Longshoremen, stevedores and other dockworkers load and unload the cargo transported by vessels. This work involves operating a number of heavy equipment, including cranes and forklifts. Like all maritime work, there is always the potential for serious injury due to human error or from improperly maintained or operated equipment.
When a dock worker becomes ill or injured, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides them with compensation while they are unable to work. LHWCA benefits fulfill a function similar to state workers’ compensation insurance, providing medical benefits and disability benefits to partially cover the wages lost because of their illness or injury. It also provides survivors’ benefits to the families of dock workers who die on the job.
The trade-off for accepting LHWCA benefits is that the injured dock worker is unable to sue their employer, even if employer negligence was responsible for the accident. This means they are unable to seek further compensation for lost wages, pain, and suffering, etc.
LHWCA Benefits Often Don’t Cover the Full Costs of Your Injuries
The problem is, in cases of really serious injury, LHWCA benefits don’t come close to providing the total amount of compensation needed to fully cover the losses and ongoing expenses caused by their injuries. However, there are other options available to injured dockworkers who need to recover additional compensation for the damages caused by their injuries. One of these options is filing a third party claim for dockworker injuries.
What is a Third Party Claim?
A third party claim, or third party lawsuit, seeks compensation from a third party — a person or company who is not your employer — who shared liability for the accident that caused the dockworkers’ injuries.
Even though you can’t take legal action against your employer, an attorney will be able to investigate the causes of your accident and determine who was responsible. It’s not uncommon for a third party to be responsible for your injuries.
Examples of Third Parties Who May Share Liability in a Dockside Accident
Examples in which a third party could be held responsible for an accident includes:
Property negligence: If you are working at a site not owned or managed by your employer (say, aboard a vessel berthed to a dock), you could file a third party lawsuit against the site’s managers or owners if you can show that your injuries were caused by dangerous conditions at the site.
Defective products: If your injuries resulted from an accident caused by a defective part or piece of equipment, you may be able to seek damages against the manufacturer of the defective product.
Toxic Substances: If exposure to a toxic substance (toxic fumes, asbestos, lead-based paint, etc.) caused your injuries, you can file a third party lawsuit against the manufacturer of the substance.
Another individual: If your injuries resulted from an attack by a co-worker you can file a third party lawsuit against the individual.
Winning a Third Party Claim for Dockside Injuries
As with any other lawsuit, in order to prevail in a third-party lawsuit, you’ll have to prove that:
- You had a work-related accident
- This accident caused your injuries
- A third party was responsible for the accident
- You suffered losses due to these injuries
The Lambert Firm Help File Third Party Claims for Dockworker Injuries
If you’re a dockworker who’s been injured in an on-the-job accident, the first thing you should do as soon as possible after your accident is to speak to an experienced maritime injury attorney.
The Lambert Firm has been protecting the rights of injured dockworkers, seamen, and offshore workers since the 1970s. We’re one of America’s leading maritime accident injury law firms. We have an impressive record of success, including a major settlement in a third party lawsuit involving multiple workers who were injured or killed in the Arco Explosion.
Call us today at 800-521-1750 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your case.