Gangway and Ladder Safety

Crewmen Injured Getting On and Off the Vessel Using Unsafe or Dangerous Gangways
Millions Recovered for Injured Jones Act Seamen and Commercial Fishermen

Federal maritime law protects injured seamen, commercial fishermen, and fish processors who are not provided a reasonably safe method and equipment to get on and off their vessels. Unsafe gangways and ladders can cause serious and permanent injuries to crewmen. Failure to provide safe means to get aboard your vessel is negligence and creates an unseaworthy condition. The Jones Act and the general maritime law provide compensatory damages to crewmen injured when a reasonable safe way is not provided to get on or off the boat.

Safe practice requires that gangways be provided to crewmen whenever possible so that they may safely come and go from a ship. Jumping from a dock to the boat is inviting serious injury.

In serious injury accidents involving gangways and ladders utilized by crewmen to access a vessel, it is important to have early investigation of the accident and to request that all evidence be preserved. If possible, early inspection of the ship, tug, or fishing boat’s gangway involved in an injury accident should be made.

Gangways must be properly secured, should be at least 20 inches wide, fitted with proper rails and hand holds, and the walking surface must be properly treated with non-slip materials. Gangways and ladders must extend to the ship’s rail and should have steps and hand rails for the crewmen to safely step to the deck of the vessel. Gangways should be kept properly trimmed.

Proper safety procedures, equipment and men should be used to position a heavy bulky gangway in place. Far too many accidents happen because of negligence while attempting to move a ship’s gangway. Safe practice requires proper training and supervision of crew attaching gangways to a vessel.

Federal maritime law and the Jones Act governs crewmen injured on gangways. The duty to provide a seaworthy vessel extends to the end of the gangway. Crewmen putting a removable gangway in place are covered by Federal maritime laws, even though they are injured while working on the pier or dock.

Crewmen injured in gangway accidents are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. There are few exceptions to the employer’s duty to provide maintenance and cure benefits. The no fault benefits of maintenance and cure means your reasonable and necessary medical expenses must be paid by the employer, and you should be paid a daily living allowance.

A second category of damages available to crewmen injured in gangway accidents is damages for negligence of the employer under the Jones Act, and damages for unseaworthiness against the vessel owner. Under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness doctrine, a seaman is entitled to claim compensatory damages for injuries caused by negligence and a vessel that is not reasonably fit for its intended purpose. Damages available for Jones Act negligence and unseaworthiness include damages for pain and suffering, lost past and future earnings, compensation for lost future earning capacity, medical expenses, and vocational retraining costs.

The Jones Act and the unseaworthiness doctrine are fault-based remedies. However, the law is in the favor of the injured seaman, and the Jones Act and unseaworthiness doctrines are powerful tools for an experienced maritime injury lawyer to recover damages for an injured seaman. A gangway that fails under normal and expected use is presumed to be an unseaworthy condition.

Maritime injury lawyer James Beard has been representing injured crewmen, fishermen and fish processors for his entire legal career. He understands ship gangway and ladder cases. Let Beard put his 30 years of maritime law experience to work for you.

Under Federal law you are entitled to claim maritime benefits and compensatory damages for your injuries. Call Beard to discuss your case at 1-800-621-1091. Beard understands seamen and fishermen, and he knows how gangway accidents aboard ships, tugs, and fishing vessels can be prevented. If you have been seriously injured, you deserve to have an experienced maritime lawyer and team of maritime experts on your side.