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Can I sue the vessel? Duties the vessel owes to longshore workers

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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up, with no double talk.. I figure you do also. I also use plain English, with no sugarcoating, no B.S. Lawyer Talk, and no double talk- just old fashioned, unsweetened, unvarnished truth- just the way that I would want it.”

Longshore Attorney LHWCA Lawyer-Bill Turley

The First Step

When it comes to Longshore Act Cases, nothing is more important than telling the truth. Nothing is more important than your credibility. You need to be up front and honest about every detail about your case. 

Do not exaggerate the fine print. If a judge suspects your not being truthful, then they will dismiss your case. Always be honest. Always tell the truth.

The Next Step

Do your research on Longshore Act Cases and order my free book, Win Your Injury Case: The Ultimate No B.S. Guide To Avoiding Insurance Company Tricks That Ruin Your Case [even before you hire a lawyer].

It is full of helpful and useful information when it comes to your Longshore Act Case.

Need help right now?

Give our office a call at (619) 234-2833. Our team of knowledgeable staff are here to help and listen.

Bringing a Lawsuit Against the Vessel

When longshoreman are seriously injured while aboard a vessel, they need to figure out If they can bring a lawsuit against the vessel. This article is about longshoreman suing a vessel owner.   What you are going to find is that the law for longshore workers is very, very different than State law.  If you are going to win, then you have to know the rules. So here I lay out all of the duties the vessel owners owe you, a longshore worker.

The Ninth Circuit

The Longshore Act is part of federal maritime law. Many folks don’t realize that federal maritime law is different depending on where your injury occurred.

My offices are in California (Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Bakersfield), but I represent longshoreman across America.  However, this article is going to focus on the law in the Ninth Circuit. If your injury occurred somewhere else than in the Ninth Circuit chances are, the law is pretty similar in that Circuit also. Here are the Ninth Circuit districts:

1. Alaska
2. Arizona
3. Central District of California
4. Eastern District of California
5. Northern District of California
6. Southern District of California
7. Guam
8. Hawaii
9. Idaho
10. Montana
11. Nevada
12. Northern Mariana Islands
13. Oregon
14. Eastern District of Washington
15. Western District of Washington

Duties the vessel owes to longshore workers

Lawsuits against the vessel owner are called 905(b) vessel owner negligence cases.

The law is all about what is called “duty.”  In order to hold a person or company liable for your injuries, you have to first prove that they owed you a duty and breached that duty.  Then you have to be able to prove that the breach of the duty was a cause of your injuries.

In the Ninth Circuit there are five duties of care owed by a vessel to a longshore worker.

1.     Turnover Duty of Safe Condition

This duty relates to the condition of the vessel before it is turned over to the stevedore (the longshoreman’s employer).   The vessel owner has a duty to exercise ordinary care under the circumstances to have the ship and its equipment in such condition that an expert and experienced stevedore will be able by the exercise of reasonable care to carry on its cargo operations with reasonable safety to persons and property at the time cargo loading or unloading operations begin.

2.     Turnover Duty to Warn

The vessel has a duty to warn the stevedore of any hazards on the ship or with respect to its equipment that are known to the vessel or should be known to it in the exercise of reasonable care, that would likely be encountered by the stevedore in the course of his cargo operations and that are not known by the stevedore and would not be obvious to or anticipated by him if reasonably competent in the performance of his work.

3.     Active Involvement Duty

The vessel has a duty if the vessel actively involves itself in the cargo operations and negligently injures a longshoreman.

4.     Active Control Duty

This is closely related to the active involvement duty.  If the vessel fails to exercise due care to avoid exposing longshoremen to harm from hazards they may encounter in areas, or from equipment, under the active control of the vessel during the stevedoring operation.

5.     Intervention Duty

The vessel has a duty to intervene to correct a dangerous condition the vessel or its owner knew about or should have known about that, despite being within the responsibility of the stevedore, so clearly  should be corrected rather than endured that a duty to intervene arises.

Bottom Line

There are many nuances and circumstances that affect each of the duties that vessels owe to longshore workers.  If you or a loved one is seriously injured while working as a longshore worker on a ship - then you need to find out if you have a valid lawsuit against the vessel.  

If you are seriously injured on a vessel as a longshore workers - you need to find out if you have a lawsuit against the vessel.  In many instances, it can mean the difference between having a secure economic future and having to struggle.

The damages (read: money) that you can potentially recover in a lawsuit against the vessel are much more than with a Longshore workers’ compensation case.


Remember, do your research

Order a copy of my free book, Win Your Injury Case: The Ultimate No B.S. Guide To Avoiding Insurance Company Tricks That Ruin Your Case [Even Before You Hire A Lawyer]


Need Help Today?

Call our office at 619-234-2833. We are here to help and answer any questions you might have.



Awarded Super Lawyer 2011-2017

Highest Avvo.com Lawyer Rating

New York Times Top Attorney

Chosen Top Ten Lawyer of San Diego

Elected President of Consumer Attorneys

Awarded Best Lawyer


Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. Thanks, Bill Turley

William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
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