After suffering a maritime or offshore injury in Delaware, it’s normal to have several questions:
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a maritime workplace, our lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.
With its namesake river and shores on the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware is a natural location for maritime cargo operations. Although this small state only has four ports, this industry is still an important part of the local economy. Hundreds of vessels pass through these ports each year, handling goods ranging from fresh fruit to automobiles.
Maritime occupations have a range of hazards, and those which involve offshore work are especially dangerous. On-the-job injuries are common for both offshore and on-shore maritime workers in Delaware. When a maritime or offshore worker suffers a serious injury at work, it’s important for them to get the financial assistance they need while they’re recovering.
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Fortunately, the Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act allow injured maritime employees to recover financial compensation. Depending on the nature of your work, you should be eligible for one of these two forms of compensation. However, recovering the financial compensation you deserve can be difficult.
In order to begin seeking compensation, you must first determine if you qualify as a “seaman” under the Jones Act. A seaman is anyone who spends at least 30% of their work time in the service of an eligible vessel on navigable waters. This generally includes all crew members and some other workers who contribute to the function of a vessel. A Jones Act claim allows you to sue your employer if your injury occurred due to some form of workplace negligence, along with providing no-fault benefits for living expenses and medical bills.
Those maritime workers who are not covered under the Jones Act will be looking to file a Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation claim. These are no-fault benefits which do not consider how negligence may have contributed to your injury. Any work-related injury is eligible for these benefits, which include coverage for necessary living expenses (like rent/mortgage, utilities, food) and medical expenses.
Delaware has three major ports which deal in cargo and passenger transportation:
Various parts of this port are operated either by the government or private companies. The US government controls the Delaware City Public Wharf, which is used for mooring government vessels and fishing boats. Some commercial and other small watercrafts occasionally use the wharf. The Occidental Chemical Corporation owns and operates the Delaware City Barge Dock, using it to ship liquid chemicals. Star Enterprise owns and operates a refinery at Pier Numbers 1, 2, and 3.
Breakwater Harbor is operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) and primarily deals with passenger transportation, including the popular Three Forts Ferry Crossing. The harbor has docking facilities and marinas which can be used by fishermen and recreational boaters.
Located in Delaware’s capital city, the Port of Wilmington is owned and operated by the state-owned Diamond State Port Corporation (DSPC). This port is located at the intersection of the Delaware and Christina Rivers, about 65 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. This is a large-scale, full-service deepwater port and marine terminal. On average, about 400 ships transport over 6 million tons of cargo through this port each year.
If you’ve been injured while working in or around a port or other maritime setting in Delaware, it’s important to be aware of your right to financial compensation. In either type of work injury claim, you’ll be dealing with the complex system of maritime law and will likely face resistance from your employer’s insurance company and their lawyers. To fully explore your rights and give yourself the best chance of receiving compensation, it may be useful to speak with an experienced maritime lawyer.