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Vessel Negligence Claims under 33 U.S.C §905(b)

Chapter 18 of the 33 U.S.C. Code constitutes the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The Longshore act is a federal worker’s compensation act that provides benefits for several types of maritime employees. Under the LHWCA, an injured maritime employee may file a 905(b) claim which allows them to file a third-party tort lawsuit against a vessel owner for vessel negligence. For example, a longshoreman injured at work is eligible to receive several covered damages under this specific maritime law such as lost wages, inability to work, medical bills, and more.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers maritime employees including longshoremen, dock workers, cargo handlers, welders, crane operators, stevedores, among others. If you are a land-based maritime employee who was injured while at work, contact Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC to discuss eligibility for benefits under the Longshore Act.

Maritime Negligence Attorney in California, Washington, New York, Connecticut, Alaska and Oregon

If you are a maritime employee who was injured on the job, you may be eligible to file a 905(b) vessel negligence claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. For assistance in your case, it’s best that you contact our maritime attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC right now. We will provide experienced legal counsel and help you claim those benefits.

We represent maritime employees on contract coast-to-coast, including injuries that occur in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and North Pacific. We have offices throughout the Pacific Northwest including in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, New York, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. Call us at 1 (800) 262-8529 to set up a free consultation.


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What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that provides benefits for maritime employees who are injured on the job. The statute supplies payment of medical care, compensation, and vocational rehabilitation services. The LHWCA also provides benefits to dependents if the injury causes, or contributes, to the maritime employee’s death.

The federal law covers workers in the maritime industry including longshore workers, shipbuilders, ship-repairers, and ship breakers. The LHWCA statute excludes the following workers from coverage:

  • Employees engaged in clerical, secretarial, security, or data processing work
  • Individuals employed by a club, camp, recreational operation, museum, or retail outlet
  • Individuals employed by a marina and who are not engaged in the construction, replacement, or expansion of the marina
  • Aquaculture workers
  • Individuals who build any recreational vessel under 65 ft in length or repair/dismantle a recreational vessel
  • People who are employed by suppliers, transporters, and vendors
  • People who are temporarily doing business on the premises of a maritime employer

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What is a 905(b) Claim?

Per the LHWCA, a 905(b) claim allows an injured maritime employer to file a third-party tort lawsuit against a vessel owner for vessel negligence. Negligence applicable for a 905(b) claim occurs in situations where the ship has a defect, or the vessel owner caused or contributed to the employer’s injury. The section 5(b) negligence remedy is available to longshoreman and any other maritime employee covered by Longshore Act, just as long they’re injured as a result of vessel negligence.

The U.S. Supreme Court states that there are three duties owed by a vessel owner under section 5(b). These include turnover duty, active control duty, and duty to intervene:

  • Turnover duty: The turnover duty relates to the condition of the vessel upon the commencement of stevedoring operations. Included in the turnover duty is the vessel owner’s responsibility to exercise ordinary care and to warn the stevedore of all hidden dangers. This does not include dangers that are open and obvious. Additionally, the ship owner does not have an obligation to supervise cargo operations as this is the stevedore’s duty.
  • Active control duty: Under active control duty, the vessel owner is obligated to exercise reasonable care after cargo operations have begun and prevent injuries that are still considered under vessel operator’s control.
  • Duty to Intervene: The vessel owner is responsible for intervening in cargo operations when he or she knows a dangerous condition exists. They also have the duty to intervene when they know the stevedore has failed to correct the dangerous conditions.

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Recovered Damages With a 905 (b) Claim

In order for a vessel owner to qualify for maritime damages under a 905(b) claim, they must be considered negligent per the 33 U.S.C. statute. Injured maritime employees who fall under the LHWCA can file a 905(b) case if they are able to prove the following four elements.

These include duty, breach, injury, and causation.

  • Duty – The vessel owner carried a legal duty to protect the defendant.
  • Breach – The vessel owner failed to uphold the duty when they chose to act reckless, careless, or were grossly unaware of their surroundings.
  • Causation – The negligence of the owner caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • Injury – The vessel owner, also known as the defendant, was harmed as a result of the defendant’s actions.

When an individual qualifies for a 905(b) claim, they can recover several damages. These damages include:

  • Funeral costs
  • Lost ability to work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Past medical expenses
  • Present medical bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Loss of society and funeral benefits

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Additional Resources for Vessel Negligence Claims

Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs: LHWCA – The U.S. Depart of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) has several divisions. One of them is the Division of Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Programs (DLHWCP). Click the link to view their three compensation districts: Eastern District, Southern District and Western District. Their contact information is:

Eastern District

Boston Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET

New York Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET

Norfolk Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET

 

Southern District

Jacksonville Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET

New Orleans Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM CT

Houston Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM CT

 

Western District

San Francisco Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM PT

Seattle Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM PT

Long Beach Suboffice

Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM PT

The Longshore Act: 33 U.S. Code Chapter 18 – Click the link to view Chapter 18 of 33 U.S. Code. The website provides all subsections that fall under this Chapter titled Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation. You’ll be able to read more information about liability for compensation, medical services and supplies, determination of pay and more.


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Longshore Act Maritime Attorney in California, Connecticut, Alaska, New York, Washington and Oregon

Maritime law can be complex. If you believe you have a Longshore Act 905(b) claim, you should reach out to an experienced maritime attorney. Our vessel negligence claims attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC are familiar with the LHWCA and can help you win the full amount you are owed. We will advocate fiercely on your behalf.

To discuss your accident, contact our maritime lawyers at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC. We represent clients in Washington, Oregon, New York, Connecticut, California, and Alaska, with offices in Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 to receive a consultation free of charge.


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  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
  • Washington State Bar Association
    The Washington State Bar Association operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court to license the state's nearly 40,000 lawyers and other legal professionals.
  • Oregon State Bar
    The Oregon State Bar is a government agency in the U.S. state of Oregon. Founded in 1890 as the private Oregon Bar Association, it became a public entity in 1935 that regulates the legal profession.
  • Alaska Bar Association
    The Alaska Bar Association is a mandatory bar association responsible to the Alaska Supreme Court for the admission and discipline process of attorneys for the State of Alaska.