Causes of Accidents & Subsequent Common Injuries at the Port of Baltimore, Maryland

The Port of Baltimore along with its cargo and container terminals provide workplaces for hundreds and thousands of longshoremen, stevedores, crane operators, dock workers and harbor workers. These men and women perform physical labor - day after day - while operating or working near dangerous equipment. Their efforts keep the Port of Baltimore running efficiently and effectively as the port continues to grow to be among one of the busiest ports in the country. Even smaller ports in the area, like the Port of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania or smaller yet Port Annapolis in Maryland, hundreds of longshoremen and other dock workers risk injury while working under hazardous conditions.

A dock worker's employment involves loading and unloading vessels, repairing vessels, maintaining vessels, shipbuilding, among many other physical work and are constantly exposed to hazards that can result in serious bodily injury or death. Their employment exposes them to risks each day, and even though their employers are to provide a safe work environment in compliance with federal regulations, accidents still occur. If you are injured from an accident that occurs at port, you there are laws that protect you financially. An experienced maritime legal team can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Causes of Accidents & Subsequent Injuries Typical at Ports

The dangers of working at Port of Baltimore are many. Accidents can be caused by a number of things, including falling objects or workers falling from heights onto the dock or into the water, equipment malfunctions or equipment failures, chemical spills, cargo shifts, explosions, to name a few. Accidents can also be caused by inexperienced or inadequately trained crew members or dock workers, unsafe transport and hauling of dangerous cargo, inadequate inspections or maintenance, improperly secured cargo or overloading of cargo.

These kinds of accidents can have catastrophic consequences. Sometimes the accident could have been prevented through proper caution and maintenance. Negligence often plays a role. Sometimes, however, accidents just happen. Common injuries associated with port accidents range from mild to severe or death. Most usually, though, the injuries are quite severe given the conditions of the work environment. From traumatic brain injuries to burns to disfigurement to death.

Specific Maritime Accidents & Injuries at Ports in Maryland

Gilman & Bedigian is prepared to handle a variety of personal injury cases stemming from maritime accidents. We represent longshoremen, dock workers, and harbor workers who have been injured or surviving family members of a longshoreman, dock worker, or harbor worker who died from his or her injuries stemming from an accident at port. We handle (1) crane injuries; (2) mooring line injuries; (3) dock and longshoremen injuries; and (4) offloading injuries, all of which occur at ports throughout Maryland.

Crane Injuries

Cranes are huge machines that are operated at ports to lift and transport cargo. Cargo can weigh thousands of pounds, so if a crane malfunctions or a human error is made, tragedy can result. In direct line of injury are dockworkers, longshoremen, stevedores and crane operators, each of whom has their role in loading and unloading cargo. Some of the causes and subsequent injuries of crane specific accidents are below listed.

Common Causes of Crane Injuries at Port of Baltimore, MD

A crane accident does not happen on its own; there's always a reason for it. Factors that contribute to crane accidents are multiple, from human inattention to human negligence to product defect. Common causes of crane accidents at docks and ports of Maryland include:

  • Employer/employee failure to comply with federal regulations and safety standards;
  • Inadequate numbers of employees;
  • Inexperienced or improperly trained workers;
  • Unsafe working conditions during inclement weather;
  • Overly heavy or improperly balanced containers or cargo loads;
  • Malfunctioning or defective equipment.

These causes of crane accidents can be the result of negligent or intentional acts by any employer, employee, or manufacturer. A full investigation into the accident will reveal the cause(s) and reasons behind it.

Common Types of Injuries from Crane Accidents

Imagine a load too heavy for the crane to lift. The crane's operator attempts to lift the load and loses control. Crane malfunctions and the load drops and depending on where it drops and what it drops on, seriously ripple effects can cause more damage and harm to workers. Crane injuries have the potential to be horrific, but they aren't always. The variety of injuries most common to crane accidents include:

  • Burns
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), mild to severe
  • Broken/fractured bones
  • Severed or crushed limbs
  • Spinal cord injuries, including nerve damage and paralysis
  • Disc injuries: slipped, ruptured, herniated, or bulging
  • Disfiguring lacerations.

Mooring Line Injuries

Mooring lines are cables that keep ships secured at docks and terminals while workers load and unload cargo. When something threatens the mooring line's integrity, accidents follow, and they are the type of accidents that have great potential for life-threatening injuries.

Common Causes of Mooring Line Accidents at Port of Baltimore

Mooring line accidents happen when something causes the cable to snap, break, split, or other. Common causes of accidents involving mooring lines can include:

  • Tripping over mooring lines;
  • Damaged equipment that causes the mooring line to snap;
  • Mooring lines attached too tightly, causing a snap or break;
  • Inexperienced or insufficient workers handling mooring lines inappropriately.

Common Types of Injuries from Mooring Line Accidents

Injuries from a mooring line accident can range from temporary to permanent or life-threatening damage. Injuries most associated with mooring line accidents include:

  • Amputated or crushed limbs
  • Broken/fractured bones
  • TBI, mild to severe
  • Eye injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries or paralysis
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Muscle injuries.

Dock Worker & Longshoremen Injuries

Dock workers are essential to the operations of Maryland ports. There are many terminals and thousands of ships each year using Maryland's ports and shipping channels. Dockworkers load and unload the cargo, repair equipment or vessels requiring maintenance, and perform other duties and tasks as required and per their expertise. They are exposed to substantial risk throughout the course of their jobs that can lead to accidents and subsequent injuries or death.

Common Causes of Dock Worker & Longshoremen Accidents

There are a number of conditions that lead to accidents that involve dock workers. Many such conditions are in a poor state because maintenance isn't provided on a regular basis, or the poor conditions are simply the nature of the hazardous work at port:

  • Wet, slippery surfaces that can cause a fall;
  • Mooring lines or rotted wood that workers can trip over;
  • Heights where a worker can fall onto platforms or into the water;
  • Explosive materials that can cause a fire;
  • Heavy loads that can cause accidents in different ways;
  • Defective equipment that can cause any number of accidents;
  • Inclement weather that can cause loads to shift, mooring lines to snap, among other things; and/or
  • Toxic chemicals that can cause hazardous fumes.

Common Injuries from Dock Worker & Longshoremen Accidents

Given the dangerous nature of dock work, it goes without saying again that workers can suffer serious or fatal injuries if something goes wrong on the job. Some common injuries that can result from any of the above conditions include:

  • Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Disease, respiratory problems
  • TBI, mild to severe
  • Fractured or broken bones
  • Amputated or crushed limbs
  • Severe burns
  • Spinal cord damage or paralysis
  • Slipped, ruptured, herniated, or bulging discs
  • Disfiguring lacerations

Offloading Facility Injuries

Offloading facilities are necessary components of port activity. These are the facilities where workers load and unload cargo from ships. Cranes are used here alongside forklifts and other heavy dockside machinery and equipment. Trucks come and go and workers continue to load and unload enormous amounts of cargo. Accidents happen when there isn't enough manpower, when it's extremely busy when equipment fails, when safety protocols are not upheld, safety equipment is not provided, inexperienced workers work, among many other factors. When certain factors collide, accidents happen.

Common Types of Offloading Facility Accidents

In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the working environment that is an offloading facility, workers need to focus on what they are doing while remaining attentive to their surroundings. Any number of thing can lead to an accident that could include:

  • Fires or explosions;
  • Falling heavy objects; or
  • Equipment accidents involving forklifts, trucks, or other dockside equipment.

Common Injuries Stemming from Accidents at Offloading Facilities

The high volume of routine, yet dangerous work compounds the potential for injuries or fatal accidents at offloading facilities at ports in Maryland. Common injuries include:

  • Severe burns, due to fires or explosions
  • Amputated or crushed limbs
  • Spinal cord or nerve damage, especially after falls or crush accidents
  • Broken bones
  • Mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Disfiguring lacerations.

Laws that Cover Harbor Workers

Injured longshoremen, crane operators, stevedores, and other dockside workers in the maritime industry generally have certain rights and protections. These rights can be found under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA is a federal statute that provides workers' compensation benefits for workers injured at port as a result of their maritime employment. This law may require your employer to pay your medical costs, disability payments, and rehabilitation costs.

Compensation in the form of medical costs, disability payments, and rehabilitation costs, however, do not always cover the complete loss suffered by the injured party and his or her family. The LHWCA recognizes this failure to compensate in full, therefore, the Act grants the injured party the right to sue third parties for negligence if it caused the accident. A lawsuit against a third party can produce compensation that encompasses a damage award for:

  • Past and future medical costs
  • Pat and future loss of earning capacity
  • Physical pain
  • Physical limitations
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish.

This additional financial recovery goes beyond the provisions of the workers' compensation. It gives the injured party and his or her family the means to restore some of what was lost and the ability to secure a decent future. If the longshoreman or dock worker was killed, surviving family members can also file a wrongful death claim against the third party to recover compensation for the loss of their loved one.

Comprehensive Representation for Your Maritime Accident Claim

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident that occurred at a port, then you will want an experienced maritime personal injury lowery to handle your case. Experience brings with it a thorough understanding on the industry and the intricate rules and regulations that make up maritime law. Qualifying for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act is a daunting experienced with complex forms and strict deadlines. Additionally, you must determine if you have a cause of action against a third party for negligence, and if so, to file your lawsuit properly and timely to avoid dismissal or rejection. If you complete your forms and submit them for a claim and/or lawsuit, you will have a team of lawyers at the maritime company prepared to manipulate and intimidate to either reduce or deny your claim.

There's no reason you should do this alone, and there's no reason you should do it with a lawyer who claims the ability to represent you but doesn't provide the results.

At Gilman & Bedigian, we focus on facts, analysis, and strategy and advocate on your behalf tirelessly until we recover fair and just compensation. We will help you with your LHWCA claim. We will also help you with a lawsuit against a third party. We will thoroughly investigate the accident, employ experts when needed, persistently negotiate for a settlement in your favor, or else will go to trial and argue before a judge and jury the merits of your lawsuit. In fact, we have a reputation for smart, strategic litigation, and insurance companies know it.

Plus, you don't pay us until you win your settlement or receive a damages award.

Maryland Maritime Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian

The attorneys at the Maryland law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent maritime workers who have been injured during the course of their work. You deserve the compensation that cure and maintenance offers, and we know how to fight for your interests to get you what you need. Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162.

Let Us Help

If someone you are close to has been seriously injured or worse, you are naturally devastated not only by what has happened, but by the effect that the injury or loss has had on you and your family. At a time when you're vulnerable, traumatized and emotionally exhausted, you need a team that will support you through the often complex process that lies ahead.

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