Jacksonville, Florida is home to one of the state’s largest ports, the Jacksonville Port Authority. With its strategic position on the northeastern Atlantic coast of Florida, this port is able to handle cargo and shipping from many international locations. Each of the three cargo terminals and one cruise ship terminal is situated near the mouth of the St. Johns River and is responsible for tons of international cargo and thousands of cruise ship passengers.
As a major port area Jacksonville is home to a lot of longshoremen and other port workers as well as seamen who work on the container and cruise ships that dock there. Working in this industry is hazardous, both in the port and on ships in terminals or out at sea. If you work here you face these hazards every day you go to work. Accidents are not uncommon and if you find yourself injured after a workplace incident you have a right to seek compensation. Maritime law and maritime lawyers in Jacksonville can help you get what you deserve.
The Jacksonville Port Authority – Jaxport
The Jacksonville Port Authority is known by locals as Jaxport and is home to three cargo terminals and one cruise ship terminal with space for large ships in both industries to dock and take on or remove cargo and passengers. Millions of tons of cargo go through these terminals every year. The kind of cargo that moves through the port includes containers, recreational boats, dry and liquid bulks, construction equipment, and oversized, military, and other specialized types of cargo.
Cargo ships move in to Jaxport and out to the world, doing business with the Caribbean, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The cargo that comes in here can be sent out to other parts of the U.S. by trucks on the nearby interstates or by one of several different railroads.
Accidents at Jaxport
As a major cargo hub and minor cruise port terminal, Jaxport is a busy place with a lot of moving parts and big equipment. One mistake can multiply into a serious incident that causes workers to be injured or even killed. If you work in the port or on the ships that come into dock here, you know just how dangerous your work is. Unfortunately there have been several examples in the past of accidents that cause equipment damage, injuries, and even fatalities.
An accident that occurred at the port in 2008 illustrates how one seemingly small mistake made by one person can turn into a major catastrophe. A crane weighing nearly 1,000 tons skidded across the port, nearly 700 feet, and crashed into other large cranes, causing a huge mess. Luckily no one was injured in the incident, but it did result in a lot of expensive damage. The crane had several brakes that should have been engaged. At the time of the accident a storm came through and two of the brakes had not been engaged because of a damaged rail. The result was the disastrous accident.
Other accidents are more tragic. In 2011 a crane collapsed and killed a worker. The crane had been retired and the worker had been scrapping it piece by piece when it came down on him. The crane the man was using to do the dismantling of the old crane may not have been up to the job and that could have contributed to the accident. It is possible that someone’s poor judgment regarding how to do the job led to this terrible accident.
What Causes Port Accidents?
In nearly all cases of accidents that occur in ports, like the port in Jacksonville, a cause can be traced back to negligence, poor judgment, miscommunication, or other type of error made by a person. Ultimately responsible for making sure these accidents are prevented are the employers of those involved. If you work in a port you are entitled to a workplace that is as safe as possible. This means that your employer has taken all reasonable precautions to prevent accidents. True accidents may still occur, but these are inevitable.
There are several things that make up the negligence and neglect that can lead to port accidents. One major issue is overlooking equipment maintenance and repairs. With big cargo cranes especially, lax maintenance can mean major disasters when a load gets dropped or a part falls off and hurts someone. A messy work area can cause trips and falls that hurt workers. Cargo that isn’t stored correctly in a warehouse or on docks can shift and fall. Walkways out to ships that aren’t maintained can cause workers to fall into the water. Inadequate training is also a big concern. Employers are responsible for making sure workers are trained to do their jobs. If they aren’t, mistakes can happen and people get hurt.
Jacksonville Maritime Lawyers Can Help
If you have been a victim of one of these or any other type of workplace accident in your job as a longshoreman or seaman, you have a right to compensation. Your employer or your employer’s insurance company may try to deny you that compensation, even by blaming you for the accident. If you work in the port and qualify as a longshoreman or harbor worker you are entitled to a federal workers’ compensation program. You do not have to show that there was any negligence to get this money that will help pay for medical expenses and lost wages.
Maybe you work on a ship that comes into the Jacksonville port. If this is the case you may qualify as a seaman, which means you can refer to the Jones Act to get compensation in cases where negligence played a role. Being able to determine which laws apply to you, how to file a claim to get money, and how to ensure you actually get the money you need is complicated. You have access to help, though. Jacksonville maritime lawyers are the professionals with the expertise you need. One of these lawyers can help you navigate the laws, file claims, and can represent you in a fight against your employer for compensation.