Fatal Crane Accident at the Port of Savannah Might Be Grounds for a Civil Suit

A union longshoreman, 50-year-old Stephen Cobb, was killed in a crane accident at the Port of Savannah on March 26th. He was pronounced dead at the scene at the Garden City terminal in the early morning. Little information has been released about the nature of the accident itself. It involved a rubber-tired gantry crane that was used for moving shipping containers, but it’s not clear whether Cobb was operating the crane or working nearby, whether there was an equipment malfunction, or what safety precautions were in place.

A police investigation is ongoing and will include an autopsy.

The Port of Savannah Has Had Several Serious Crane Accidents Over the Years, Especially at Its Garden City Terminal

Cranes are powerful and dangerous pieces of equipment that should be operated with great care, by trained individuals, and in accordance with safety instructions from OSHA and the manufacturer. When crane accidents occur, the consequences are often destructive and life changing, as many former port workers can attest.

In November of 2015, a jockey truck operator was severely injured in another crane accident at the Garden City terminal. While attempting to lift a shipping container out of the victim’s truck, a crane operator accidentally lifted the entire truck approximately 30 feet off the ground. It fell, the driver was thrown through the windshield, and then had his leg traumatically amputated when the truck rolled on top of it.

Just under two years later, another worker successfully sued the Georgia Ports Authority after a 16-pound twist lock fell from a crane and struck his head, causing permanent injury, also at the Garden City terminal. He was awarded $4.6 million.

Employers, Including the Georgia Ports Authority, Are Responsible for Providing Safe Workplaces

No matter the inherent risks of an occupation, employers always have a responsibility to follow OSHA regulations and take any other reasonable steps that may be necessary to keep workplaces as safe as possible. Landowners are also responsible for making their properties safe for anyone with a legal right to be there, whether or not they can be considered employees.

This is equally true whether the employer/owner is a small business, an international corporation, or a government entity like the Georgia Ports Authority. Port workers have a right to expect effective safety measures, and to expect compensation when preventable accidents do occur.

Civil Suits Are Often the Best Option for Injured Port Workers and Bereaved Families

Like most large entities, public or private, the Georgia Ports Authority doesn’t have a stellar record when it comes to taking care of injured workers and their families. The man who lost his leg was terminated from employment shortly afterward, and his subsequent lawsuit alleges that it was because the port would not make reasonable accommodations for him to continue working with his new disability.

When the man who was struck by the twist lock sued, the Georgia Port Authority tried to have his claim dismissed by arguing that, as a State organization, it was immune to litigation relating to federal wrongdoing.

Across professions, even when injured workers and the families of those killed on the job do receive payments without filing a suit, these payments rarely even cover immediate related expenses. The best way to get fair compensation that accounts for the full impact the accident will have on survivors’ lives is almost always with the help of a qualified wrongful death or personal injury lawyer.

If you are Stephen Cobb’s next of kin, or if you have been injured or lost a loved one due to another accident at the Port of Savannah, call The Stoddard Firm to learn about how we can help.

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