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Hurt at Work on a Florida Container Ship


The remedies for maritime injuries to passengers and crew are different from injuries suffered on dry land. This is true for many reasons, but primarily it is due to application of federal statutes and the general maritime law. When someone is injured in Florida, Florida statutes and common law will apply. When someone is injured on the open water or “navigable” water, their recovery will be governed by federal statutes and the general maritime law.

Like most everything else these days, the practice of admiralty and maritme law requires a degree of specialization and expertise to truly know what protections are available.

At Michael F. Guilford, P.A., we focus our practice solely on helping injured people recover compensation after maritime injuries. Among these are injuries aboard container ship. Here are a few things you should consider if you are injured while working aboard a container ship.

What are Container Ships? 

A container ship is a large ocean-bound vessel that carries “intermodal” containers.  Containers are designed to be carried by truck or rail to the port and then lifted by crane and placed on board the ship.  They are often stacked several rows high and several rows across.  When the ship arrives in its destination, the containers are then lifted off the ship, placed back on trucks or rail cars and delivered to their final destination.  In this way, a container can be loaded in another country and remain in the same container from the manufacturing plant in all the way to the final reciever.

Where Most Injuries Take Place

The majority of container ship accidents actually happen while still in the harbor being loaded or unloaded. For the individuals who work around these ships, common injuries include:

  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Concussion
  • Crushing injuries
  • Fractured bones
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Burns
  • Disfigurement
  • Amputations
  • Herniation and bulging discs
  • Torn muscles and ligaments

Common Reasons for Shipping Container Injuries 

Perhaps the most common reasons for injuries are poor training of crane operators, poor condition of equipment or negligent operation of a crane. Loading and unloading is busy chaotic time and many things can go wrong. A cable can break, an operator can get distracted, a shipping container could topple, or a lashing chain could break.

When a person is injured while working on or around a shipping container in the harbor, depending on his/her status (crew, longshore worker, civilian) there are a number or laws that could apply.

Laws that Protect Shipping Container Workers 

There are four different options that may apply to this type of injury:

  • Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

This law applies to injured workers who are employed by companies that provide direct services loading and unloading ocean-bound vessels at U.S. ports.

  • The Jones Act

This law applies to injured seamen who are hurt while in the service of the ship.

  • Florida Workers’ Compensation

If you are not a longshoreman or a crewmember, then the Florida Workers Compensation Act (FWCA) may apply to your claim for injury.  Under the FWCA  injured workers file a claim with their employer’s insurance company and seek payment under a specific schedule of benefits. If you are employed by a land-based employer and you were injured while delivering to the port or doing some other task near the container ship, you may have rights under the FWCA.

  • Florida Personal Injury Law and the General Maritime Law

If you are not covered by one of the statutory schemes, you may still be able to recover for injuries sustained on and around these ships, under the common law remedies provided by the Florida and the General Maritime Law.

If you were injured due to the negligence of a shipping company, harbor management, or some other entity, you may have rights to compensation:

Call Michael F. Guilford Today 

For help figuring out your best approach to compensation, call Michael F. Guilford, P.A. in Miami today. Consultations are free, so you have nothing to lose by calling. But time is limited, so don’t delay.


  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

It's Your Time To Win

Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998