A woman recently died after she was run over by a truck transporting a cargo container in Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades.

The deceased woman was apparently driving a golf cart through one of the shipping container yards inside the port when she collided with a “mule truck,” which is a vehicle similar to a tractor-trailer, used to transport cargo containers from one area to another within the port. The collision caused the woman to be ejected from the golf cart, after which she was tragically run over by the truck. The intersection inside the port where the incident occurred has no stop signs or traffic signals.

The incident occurred just hours after another serious injury was reported at the port, when a cargo container allegedly flipped over and injured a nearby worker.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently investigating to determine the cause of both incidents. Workplace safety is especially crucial in environments like the port in Fort Lauderdale, where cranes, trucks and other heavy equipment transport large containers throughout the facility while other vehicles such as golf carts and cars are being driven in close proximity.

Florida employees who are injured on the job are normally entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits which, in many cases, will help cover the costs of related medical care and will also pay the employees a portion of their salary (normally 66 2/3%) until they are cleared by a physician or return to work. Workers’ Compensation can also act as a shield to protect employers from claims made against them for damages a worker incurs as the result of a job-related injury, because it is the exclusive remedy for employees to seek in such claims.

Under the circumstances in these particular incidents, the parties responsible may in fact be independent from Fort Lauderdale’s Port and a third-party claim could possibly be brought.

Furthermore, under Florida Statute §440.11(b), even employers may be found liable to an employee for other categories of damages in the event that:

1. The employer deliberately intended to injure the employee; or

2. The employer engaged in conduct that the employer knew, based on prior similar accidents or on explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee, and the employee was not aware of the risk because the danger was not apparent and the employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the danger so as to prevent the employee from exercising informed judgment about whether to perform the work.

To determine whether or not a claim for additional damages against an employer can be brought, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney, as this brief excerpt of Florida law will depend entirely on the individual circumstances of each potential claim. In relation to the incidents at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, it will be interesting to see the outcomes of these investigations and how the individual circumstances of each will affect either party’s ability to potentially seek damages.

For more information on this topic or any other, please feel free to contact the Schulman Law Group at (954) 349-3300 or at info@www.schulaw.com