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How to File a Lawsuit for a Longshore Accident in California

March 05, 2023

What is the Process for Filing a Longshore Accident Lawsuit in California?

California’s longshore workers play a vital role in this country’s economy. Unfortunately, serious accidents are not uncommon due to the nature of the work. From heavy machinery malfunctions to falling objects, there are myriad ways to get injured as a longshoreman. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you may be exploring your options for recovering damages, such as filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties. But how do you begin this process?

First, you must ensure that your situation qualifies for a lawsuit before proceeding with your case. This requires an investigation of your accident and the circumstances surrounding it. A knowledgeable California longshoreman accident lawyer can help determine whether you have a valid lawsuit. Even if you aren’t able to take your case to court, you still have options to recover damages for your injuries. However, prompt action is essential after any longshore accident to ensure that you meet all filing deadlines and do not forfeit your right to seek the compensation you are entitled to.

Can You Sue Your Employer or Coworkers for a Longshore Accident?

Longshore accidents often result from a mistake or oversight on the part of your employer or coworkers. You may have been accidentally exposed to hazardous chemicals or suffered injuries when another employee misused a piece of equipment.

In these situations, you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer or the at-fault employee. Instead, you must file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).

What is the LHWCA?

The LHWCA is a federal law that provides benefits to individuals who are injured while working a maritime job on the navigable waters of the US or any connecting areas, such as docks, wharves, and shipyards. The law was enacted to provide protection and benefits to workers who would not be covered by typical workers’ compensation and were not eligible for coverage under the Jones Act because they were not part of the crew of a vessel.

The LHWCA functions similarly to workers’ compensation. It is a no-fault insurance that pays for medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and a portion of lost wages after a person suffers an on-the-job injury. Covered injuries may result from accidents or from a disability or illness caused by repetitive movements or exposure to dangerous substances. The LHWCA will also pay survivor’s benefits to a worker’s family if they are killed in a work-related accident. Because the LHWCA provides a remedy to injured employees, they cannot pursue their employer or coworkers for further damages in court.

When Can You File a Lawsuit for Your Longshore Accident?

If your employer and coworkers cannot be held liable in court for your injuries, it may seem that there would be no situations where you would need to file a lawsuit for your damages. However, this is not true. Shipyards, docks, and terminals are bustling with activity, and some individuals working alongside you may not actually be your coworkers. Instead, they could be third-party contractors hired by another employer to perform jobs. If one of these individuals caused your injury through negligence, carelessness, or malice, they could be held responsible for their actions through a lawsuit.

Alternatively, you may have grounds for a product liability lawsuit in addition to your LHWCA claim. If your injuries resulted from defective, malfunctioning, or unsafe machinery or faulty safety equipment, the item’s manufacturer could be liable for the damages you suffered. If you have questions about whether you have a viable lawsuit in your longshore accident case, contact a knowledgeable maritime worker injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.

Who Can Be Held Responsible in a Longshore Accident Lawsuit?

If anyone other than your employer and coworkers was wholly or partially at fault for your accident, you could bring a civil lawsuit against them in court. Third-party contractors are common culprits in longshore accidents and may include:

  • Forklift operators
  • Delivery drivers
  • Truckers
  • Ship captains and crew
  • Crane and other heavy machinery operators
  • Longshore workers employed by other companies

Additionally, if a defective or dangerous product caused your injuries, you may have a case against the parties involved with creating and selling the product, such as:

  • Manufacturer
  • Assembler
  • Designer
  • Wholesaler
  • Distributor
  • Retailer

What Damages Can You Recover in a Civil Lawsuit?

A longshore accident can be devastating for you and your family. You may be temporarily, or even permanently, unable to work and have a mountain of medical debt from your treatment. A civil lawsuit allows you to seek damages for the many losses caused by your injuries. At the conclusion of a successful lawsuit, the court may award you three main types of damages.

Economic Damages

These damages compensate you for the financial losses you’ve suffered, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Therapy and rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning potential
  • Costs for accessibility upgrades to your home and vehicle

Non-Economic Damages

Serious injuries don’t just have a financial impact; their effects reach into all aspects of your life.

While LHWCA claims do not cover these types of losses, they can be recovered in a civil lawsuit and include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional distress

Punitive Damages

While relatively uncommon, the court may opt to award punitive damages if the defendant acted intentionally to cause harm or showed a complete lack of regard for the safety of others. Punitive damages are a method of punishing an individual for their grossly negligent acts.

How Can a Longshore Accident Attorney Assist You?

The ports of California are fast-paced environments with high risks of injury for the longshore workers employed there. If you’ve been injured at Long Beach or any of the other ports, it is critical to fully understand your options for compensation, from the LHWCA to civil lawsuits. An experienced Long Beach longshore accident attorney can help you determine the best course of action for your case so you can get the full recovery you deserve. However, time limits on these claims can be very short, so seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is essential. Call today for a free case evaluation.

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Cases We Handle

  • maritime worker working on ship

    Longshoremen & Shipyard Workers

    Longshoring and shipyard work are very dangerous occupations. Workers in these fields, along with marine construction workers, are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, a very generous no-fault workers’ compensation system. It covers medical expenses, temporary disability, permanent disability and vocational rehabilitation.

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  • sea vessel docked at US shore

    Jones Act Seamen

    A seaman is a member of the crew of a vessel or group of vessels under common ownership or control. The vessel can be anything from a raft to a cargo ship. We represent seamen who work aboard recreational vessels, tugboats, dredges, barges, skiffs, workboats and cargo ships. We also represent seamen who are marine construction workers

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  • Diving

    We represent people who have been injured in SCUBA diving accidents and Commercial diving accidents. We also handle diving boat accidents. Diving can be very dangerous. We successfully represented a commercial diver who was seriously injured while cleaning the propeller of a U.S. Navy ship at Pearl Harbor

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  • accident at construction site and hard hat on floor

    Construction & Industrial Accidents

    Construction and industrial sites can be very dangerous. Although you generally cannot sue your own employer for a construction site or industrial accident (generally workers’ compensation is your exclusive remedy against your employer) there are many circumstances in which you can file a third party lawsuit against an entity other than your employer for an unsafe condition at a work site which causes you to be injured

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  • Forklift and Crane Injuries Lawyer

    Crane & Forklift Accidents

    The Easley firm has extensive experience with crane and forklift accidents and workplace accidents involving dangerous equipment and machinery. These accidents can be caused by operator error and they can be caused by the unsafe and defective condition of the equipment

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  • auto accident involving two cars on a city street

    Motor Vehicle & Truck Accidents

    Motor vehicle accidents can result in serious injury and death. These kinds of accidents can involve automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and unsafe road design and unsafe road conditions

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  • Catamaran Injuries Attorney

    Passenger Vessel Accidents

    Passenger accidents are common on recreational vessels, catamarans, tour boats and cruise ships.  They are frequently caused by rough sea conditions and unsafe conditions aboard the vessels.  The Easley firm has extensive experience in the field of maritime law.  We have made new law in the field of maritime law with numerous precedent setting decisions in the State Appellate Courts, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court

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  • Defense Base Act

    The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act which covers civilian employees of U.S. defense contractors injured overseas, including war zones. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensations Act as extended by the Defense Base Act is a very generous no fault workers’ compensation system

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Areas Where We Practice

Preston Easley is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He served five years of active duty as a Naval officer — three years as a deck officer on a fast frigate and two years as a patrol boat skipper. Mr. Easley also served aboard a tank landing ship in the reserves.




Let Us Get You The Compensation You Deserve

Preston Easley is an experienced lawyer with considerable expertise in handling federal and state personal injury cases. He will aggressively seek the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. Attorney Easley represents victims of serious and fatal accidents involving cars, trucks, construction projects and maritime work.

Construction Workers We Help

  • Crane and Forklift Operators
  • Pile Drivers
  • Scaffold Workers
  • Iron Workers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Operating Engineers
  • Electricians

Maritime Workers We Help

  • National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) Shipyard Workers
  • Manson Construction Company Workers
  • Manson Dredging Workers
  • Dutra Dredging Workers
  • Commercial Divers
  • Scuba Divers
  • Commercial Fisherman
  • Government Maritime Claims Against the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers, or the US Coast Guard, etc.
  • Marine Construction Workers
  • Offshore Oil and Gas Workers
  • Seamen
  • Shipyard Workers
  • YYK Enterprises, Inc.
  • Pacific Tugboat Service
  • Long Beach Container Terminal
  • Tugboat, Dredge, Longshoremen, and Ferry Workers
  • Barge Crews and Barge Workers
  • Marisco Limited
  • HL Welding
  • SSA Marine
  • Catalina Express
  • R.E. State Engineering
  • Shimmick Construction
  • Nova Group
  • American Scaffolding
  • Safway Scaffolding
  • Kirby Tugs
  • Crowley Tugboats
  • P&R Water Taxi
  • Continental Maritime
  • Pacific Ship Repair
  • Seaward Marine
  • Healy Tibbitts
  • General Construction
  • BAE Shipyards
  • South Coast Welding
  • Matson
  • Pasha
  • Hawaii Stevedores, Inc.
  • McCabe, Hamilton & Renny
  • Young Brothers
  • Sause Bros.
  • Foss Maritime
  • Fenix Marine Services
  • ITS
  • Total Terminals
  • TraPac
  • PCMC
  • Maersk
  • Yang Ming
  • China Overseas Shipping
  • Evergreen

Boating Accidents

  • Catamaran Accidents
  • Charter and Tour Boats
  • Cruise Ship Accidents
  • Passenger Accidents
  • Jet Ski and Personal Watercraft
  • Motorboat Accidents
  • Recreational Accidents
  • Scuba Diving Accidents
  • Speed Boat Accidents
  • Yachts and Sail Boat Accidents
  • Repair Accidents
  • Crew Accidents
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