Situated on 7,500 acres of water and land, the Port of Los Angeles is the largest container liner service port in the United States, with over 79 million container units shipping out nationally and worldwide each year. In addition, the port provides one of the largest cruise ship terminals on the West Coast, with three passenger vessels that transport millions of people on an annual basis. Of course, the abundance of maritime activity couldn’t happen without a strong team of seamen. In fact, the Port of Los Angeles employs well over 20,000 maritime workers. These workers face the same risks as maritime workers across the world, yet in Los Angeles, the amount of injuries and accidents due to employer negligence and unseaworthy vessels is exorbitant.
Examples of Los Angeles Maritime Accidents and Injuries
In September of 2009, longshoreman John Robert Kiser, 53, was killed after he was crushed under the rear of an empty trailer. According to the Los Angeles Port Police, the accident was a result of occupational negligence. Consequently, the accident was investigated by California’s workplace safety office, Cal-OSHA.
In another fatal accident in July of 2013, a dock worker was killed underwater when a trailer fell on him at the Port of Los Angeles. The accident happened near the Berth 27 where the victim was trapped at least 60 feet down in murky waters. According to police reports, the trailer that crushed the dock worker was used to pull cargo. Several state and federal agencies investigated the accident.
In January of 2012, longshoreman Steven Nicholas Saggiani was working at Pier J at the Port of Los Angeles when a container aboard a nearby vessel fell on top of him, causing fatal injuries. According to authorities, the container that crushed Saggiani was in the process of being moved by a crane when it fell. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) immediately began an investigation into safety violations. The rest of the crew aboard the vessel ran to seek shelter, but Saggiani was unable to move out of the way in time.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned cases are only a small amount of instances in which seamen are injured and/or killed while on the job in Los Angeles. In many occurrences, most injuries and deaths could have been easily prevented had all equipment been checked properly for defects before allowing employees to work. When seamen are injured because of negligence, employers are typically liable for damages. Under general maritime law, seamen must be provided with safe working conditions aboard a seaworthy vessel at all times.
If you’re a seaman and have been injured in a Los Angeles accident, keep in mind that you have legal rights and options if your injuries happened because of employer negligence. Be certain to document all injuries and accidents, and never sign any forms you are uncomfortable with. In fact, a Los Angeles maritime attorney should be sought out immediately after a maritime accident to ensure that your legal rights and options are protected. For more information on what constitutes seamen rights and benefits, see our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.