Section 905(b) Claims
An injured individual working on the docks or engaging in some other type of maritime activity, but who is not considered a seaman, could have a claim that is controlled by the Longshore Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (also known as the “LHWCA”). This Act limits an employer’s liability to statutory benefits which the employer pays regardless of negligence in return for immunity from getting sued by the injured employee, the injured employee retains the right to bring a tort action against a third party.
Section 905(b) of the LHWCA creates a cause of action against a vessel owner is for its negligence. The term “vessel” under the LHWCA is defined to include the vessel’s owner, owner pro hac vice, agent, operator, charterer or bare boat charterer, master, officer, or crew member.
Similar to other maritime claims, the doctrine of assumption of risk and contributory negligence do not apply in a Section 905(b) claims. Rather, any negligence on the part of the claimant only serves to reduce the recoverable damages.
Vessel owners generally owe three primary duties longshore workers. The first duty is known as the “turnover duty.” This duty relates to the condition of the ship when longshore workers start the stevedoring operations. The second duty is called the “active control” duty. This duty is in effect when stevedoring operations are underway and such operations are with the active control of the vessel. In these situations, the vessel owner is required to use reasonable care to prevent injury to longshoremen in areas that are under the control of the vessel. The third duty is the “duty to intervene.”
The attorneys at Lueder, Larkin & Hunter, LLC are familiar with the LHWCA and knows how to properly analyze your case. Please feel free to contact us for more information.