Situated close to the Savannah River and the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah is the leading city for maritime services in the state of Georgia. The Port of Savannah, a major United States seaport, is home to numerous maritime activities, with container terminals, import warehouses, marine repair facilities, ship agent services, and much more located on the premises. As with most major ports that bustle with several different industry actions, however, there are quite a few accidents and injuries that occur amongst seamen in Savannah. While it’s expected that some accidents may occur given the nature of the maritime industry, a host of other accidents happen because of negligence and careless on the part of other parties.
Examples of Accidents and Injuries in Savannah
When accidents and injuries occur, it’s bad enough that seamen are left physically and mentally harmed. Yet, it’s more devastating when these accidents occurred because of employer negligence. Employers must provide their workers with safe conditions to work in, and when these obligations are not met, disasters tend to follow.
In 2008, a longshoreman was killed at the Port of Savannah as he was unloading cargo from a ship. Lee Fluker, 69, was stuck and killed by a pack of tubular steel that was being moved by a forklift operator. The accident happened at the port’s Ocean Terminal. The pack of steel hit him so hard that he was thrown into another forklift. The 2nd forklift driver braked immediately in order to avoid hitting Fluker, but the fast braking caused the forklift’s load to topple over onto Fluker as he was trying to move out of the way. He died immediately. Since all bundles are supposed to be secured, authorities immediately began investigating the scene for negligence. For instance, if a cargo bundle has defective parts, such as weak or broken bundle straps, it is typically constituted as negligence by the employer since all machinery and parts must be in safe,working order before employees work around them.
Although Savannah has not seen many deaths in the maritime industry, two other fatalities took place in 1994. Longshoreman Anthony Mack was in the process of loading a linerboard when he was ran over by a forklift weighing 15,000 pounds. In the same year, an employee of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), John Ibanowski, was working at the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal when a bale of cotton weighing close to 500 pounds fell and landed on top of him. Both Mack and Ibanowski were pronounced dead at the scene.
Legal Resources for Injured Seamen and Loved Ones
If you’ve been injured while on the job in Savannah, or if you are a loved one of a maritime worker who was killed while working, it’s important to remember that federal and state maritime laws were established to protect seamen in the event of injuries and/or death caused by the negligence of others. Under the Death on High Seas Act, family members may be eligible for compensatory damages if the seaman was killed while working. Injured seamen may be eligible for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and much more under the Jones Act and the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). It’s also important to seek legal representation from an experienced maritime lawyer before signing any paperwork that an employer and/or insurance company may ask you fill out after your injury.
For more information on general maritime laws and acts, refer to our articles Jones Act Lawyer, Death on High Seas Act, and The Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.