Dock and Pier Injuries

Docks and piers have an iconic history in Florida, being that we are a state surrounded by oceans and filled with lakes, rivers and streams. But these structures are too often the site of serious injury – even death. Compensation for dock and pier injuries typically falls under the umbrella of premises liability.

The Fort Myers injury lawyers at The Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, can help you determine whether your pier injury or dock injury is the basis for a viable claim, and identify all possible defendants in the case.

Often, it comes down to:

  • Who owned the dock or pier?
  • What purpose the injured person had to be on site?
  • The nature of the hazard?
  • Whether entity that owned/ controlled the dock warned of it or took corrective action?

If you have been injured in Southwest Florida on a dock or pier, contact us to learn more about how we may be able to help.

Dock vs. Pier

Although the terms “dock” and “pier” are used interchangeably, there are in fact some distinct differences, and those could come into play if you are mulling legal action against the owner/ controller of the site.

A pier is a type of platform that is supported on pillars or girders and it leads out from the shore into a body of water. It can be used as a landing stage for boats, but as those of us who have visited Fort Myers Beach know, there are several fishing piers that are not designed for boat landings. The most popular piers in Sanibel, Pine Island, Fort Myers Beach and Naples are not for docking boats.

A dock, on the other hand, is a type of structure that extends alongshore or out from the shore into a body of water to which boats can be moored.

Common Types of Pier and Dock Injuries

There are numerous different types of dock and pier injuries, depending on the type of structure and traffic. In areas where there are constant ships coming and going, heavy machinery servicing those ships and passengers being loaded and unloaded, there are a host of hazards that may include:

  • Slip-and-falls;
  • Run over by machinery;
  • Falls into the water;
  • Electrocution due to improper placement of electrical wiring/ equipment;
  • Falls on unsafe ladders, walkway or gangplanks;
  • Trip-and-falls on walkways that are not properly maintained or repaired;
  • Collapse of gangway or other structures;
  • Injury due to unsafe cargo;
  • Mooring line accidents;
  • Fire/ explosion of unsafe vessel;
  • Crane accidents;
  • Injury due to boating crash/ accident/ collision.

There may be some instances wherein more than one entity is liable for damages.

Although some of these incidents are truly the result of circumstances that were not foreseeable, the reality is many are avoidable and are the direct result of negligence by the facility, operators, employers or third parties who:

  • Overlook/ fail to implement safety procedures;
  • Don’t regularly check for dangerous conditions, despite inviting the public onto the site;
  • Fail to properly train workers;
  • Fail to repair/ replace dangerous conditions, such as rotting wood, crumbling concrete or other potential hazards.
Claims for Dock and Pier Injuries

The type of claim you will file for a dock or pier injury will depend on the type of pier and your status on site.

For example, if you are a crewmember employed by a vessel company, you may be entitled to coverage under the Jones Act (also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920), which is a federal law aimed to protect workers injured at sea. However, not everyone working at the time of the incident will be covered by the act, which specifically protects “seamen.” Federal courts have generally interpreted this to mean someone who is assigned to a vessel or fleet operating in navigable waters and whose work is related to the vessel’s purpose.

While most people injured on-the-job will be confined to the exclusive remedy provisions of workers’ compensation law, those who are protected under the Jones Act can file a negligence lawsuit against their employer. Workers’ compensation claims don’t require a finding of fault, as do negligence lawsuits.

In other cases where dock or pier injuries are suffered by members of the public or paying customers, Florida premises liability law may be applicable. Plaintiffs in these cases will need to show a dangerous condition existed and the property owner/ controller knew or should have known about it and failed to address it or warn of it.

If you are injured on a dock or pier in Southwest Florida, our experienced injury lawyers can help you explore your legal options.

800-646-1210 – Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner – Focused on Justice

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