The ports in Delaware provide thousands of lucrative jobs to maritime workers. Unfortunately, many seamen and port workers suffer on-the-job injuries as a result of negligent employers, as well as working on unseaworthy vessels. Maritime workers who suffer injuries should contact a Delaware maritime lawyer to discuss their legal rights.
Located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., Delaware is home to the Port of Wilmington, the nation’s main entry point for perishable goods. Delaware is also served by three smaller ports at Dover, Newark, and Lewes, but most of the cargo traffic is handled at Wilmington. Several ferries also operate on the Delaware river, linking the state with neighboring New Jersey.
Delaware’s Port of Wilmington and Maritime Accidents
Despite Delaware’s small size both in terms of geography and population, its main maritime facility on the Delaware River is one of the busiest on the East Coast. The Port of Wilmington is a deep water port which offers full services to the 400 ships that pass through each year. Wilmington is the main entry port for such perishable goods as bananas and fruit juice, and it’s the East Coast’s export facility for livestock. Approximately five million tons of cargo are loaded or unloaded at the Port of Wilmington every year.
Along with berthing spaces for freighters, tankers, and roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) ships, the Port of Wilmington contains the largest on-dock cold storage complex in the U.S. It also houses 250,000 square feet of dry warehouse space. Approximately 50 of the Port’s 308 acres are open space areas set aside for containers, automobiles, and other types of bulky cargo.
Industrial ports such as Wilmington are bustling with activities around the clock. Seamen, longshore workers, and other maritime workers are constantly on the move.
Delaware Maritime Injuries
Whether ships are in port or underway, the maritime environment is inherently dangerous, and industrial accidents occur frequently.
Per the Diamond State Port Corporation (DSPC), the Port of Wilmington’s operator, Delaware’s main port reduced its accident rate by 20 percent per year between 1997 and 2002. The DSPC safety enhancement program encompasses every aspect of port operations in Wilmington, including:
- Food cargo
- Docks and warehouses
- Transportation operations
- Heavy equipment safety
- Traffic control
- Water safety
Nevertheless, maritime work is risky. This is especially true if employers don’t use caution and allow accidents to occur by failing to stress safe methods of securing equipment on ships or docks.
Why Contact a Delaware Maritime Lawyer
Seamen and longshore workers who are injured on the job have protections under maritime law:
The Jones Act gives injured seamen the right to sue their employers if the accident was a result of negligence or if their vessel’s seaworthiness was compromised in any fashion. The Jones Act also allows seamen to collect money for their daily expenses. Seamen also get funds which cover the costs of their medical treatment while they recover from their injury. This type of compensation is called maintenance and cure.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides certain port and offshore workers with compensation for work injuries and illnesses. Under the LHWCA, injured workers receive temporary assistance that equals two-thirds of their weekly salaries. Other types of compensation include payment of medical expenses, compensation for lost or severely injured body parts, and various classifications of disability awards that range from partial to total disability.
If you’ve been injured in a maritime job-related accident, remember to file an accident report with your employer as promptly as possible. If your employer’s insurance company sends a representative to ask for a written or oral statement, you are under no obligation to provide one. Don’t allow anyone to pressure you into signing anything. For more information about your rights as a maritime worker, call Maritime Injury Guide at 1-877-363-6148.