Boarding or Disembarking Vessel Accidents

Many people are aware that a vessel’s owner and operator may be responsible for injuries sustained aboard the ship, but liability doesn’t begin there.

Liability actually starts during the boarding process, since the ship’s passengers and crew are entitled to safe access when entering and exiting the vessel.

Vessel Boarding Accident Risks

Some of the most common accident causes when boarding and disembarking a maritime vessel include:

  • Movement of the ship. When a vessel moves, the gangway connected to it will move as well. Attempting to negotiate the gangway while the ship is rolling or swaying can easily cause a crew member to fall.
  • Slick surfaces. The slope of a gangway fluctuates with changes in the tide, increasing slip and fall risks. Vessel operators should provide gangways with anti-skid surfaces.
  • Movement of the dock. Not all docks are steady. Many are designed to float, and floating docks are susceptible to wave motion caused by violent winds or passing ships. Vessel operators have a responsibility to warn crew members about the dangers of floating docks to ensure their safety.
  • Missing handrails. A gangway needs proper railings of sufficient height that are strong enough to support a crew member. Missing or inadequate handrails may cause a serious overboard accident.
  • Lack of safety nets. Nets provide an extra barrier between the gangway and the water, and when these nets are missing, drowning and hypothermia risks increase.

What You Should Do If You’re Injured

If you’ve been hurt while boarding or disembarking a vessel, you should:

  • Report the accident. Immediately document your accident and notify your supervisor of any injuries.
  • See a healthcare professional. You have the right to choose your doctor, and should seek medical attention as soon as possible after injury. Be sure to keep follow-up appointments and stick to your doctor’s instructions.
  • See a lawyer. The Jones Act provides compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits for injuries sustained while boarding or leaving a vessel. You need an experienced maritime injury attorney to help you receive the benefits you deserve. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.
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