The Port of Palm Beach, in Riviera Beach, Florida, is the state’s fourth busiest cargo and container shipping port. Cargo shipping makes up the bulk of the business in the port, but there is one cruise line, Celebration, that has set up operations here. Billions of dollars of cargo passes through Palm Beach every year, making this a busy and economically significant port for the state and for the country.
Working in the maritime industry is dangerous work, and if you have a job as a seaman on ships coming into the Port of Palm Beach, or you work as a longshoreman in the port area, you take daily risks to do your job. Knowing how dangerous the work can be, it should come as some relief to know that you have ways to get compensation after an accident. Being injured means you have medical bills and will miss out on paychecks. With maritime laws, though, you can file claims to get the cash that will help you cover those costs. A good maritime lawyer in Palm Beach can help you make it happen.
Container Shipping and Accidents
As a busy container shipping port, the Port of Palm Beach employs thousands of workers. If you work as a longshoreman or in another position in the port, there are many risks you take on a daily basis. There are plenty of different types of accidents that could occur and cause you to be injured, or even to die in the most tragic accidents.
Common port accidents include trips and slips that lead to falls. These can cause cuts, scrapes, and broken bones. When the falls are from greater heights, like on walkways and ladders, they can be fatal or cause serious head, neck, or back injuries. Falls into the water are not uncommon in ports and can lead to drownings, or even being crushed between a ship and a dock.
There are also plenty of accidents that occur with the cargo and the equipment used to lift and move it. In container shipping, large cranes are used to move the containers and these can cause serious accidents if the person operating them makes a mistake or if the equipment fails because it was not maintained or repaired correctly. Trucks moving cargo around the port also cause accidents, as do platforms and forklifts.
In port warehouses, all kinds of accidents are possible, from falls from ladders, platforms and scaffolding to falling cargo. Electrical problems can cause accidents and injuries, as can warehouse fires. If a warehouse is storing toxic chemicals, exposure can be a problem for workers. These are just a few of the many possible ways in which port workers can be injured on the job, especially in a busy shipping port.
Examples of Real Accidents
There are plenty of real accidents that have occurred in and near the Port of Palm Beach. Some accidents are truly accidental, but the sad truth is that most are preventable. If you work in this industry and have an accident, chances are you can find some type of negligence to have been involved. It may be that someone wasn’t trained properly and made an error when operating equipment or that the walkways weren’t maintained making a fall inevitable. Whatever the reason was, most accidents could have been avoided with precautionary measures.
In one such tragic example, a worker died in the hull of a container ship in the port. Initial investigations were not able to determine why he was allowed into this area of the ship alone. If proper procedures had been followed, he would not have been in there alone and the accident could have been avoided. As it happened he went into an opening that was too small, became stuck and died, despite rescuers’ efforts to get him out of the ship.
Not all container shipping accidents occur in port. Sometimes they happen out at sea where seamen do the dangerous work of operating and navigating these large vessels. In 2015, an accident occurred with a container ship in the waters near Palm Beach. Twenty five large containers fell off of a barge heading from the port to Puerto Rico and were lost. Thankfully no one was hurt, but someone made a big mistake and not only was cargo lost, but the containers were carrying batteries which cause pollution in the ocean.
If you work in the maritime industry in Palm Beach or on ships that come into port here, you have laws that protect you in the event that you are the victim of one of these accidents. If you qualify as a seaman, someone who works mostly on a ship at sea, you are covered by maintenance and cure, the doctrine of unseaworthiness, the Death on the High Seas Act, and the Jones Act. The latter is an important law because it allows you to seek compensation if you can show that your employer’s negligence played a role in your accident. The burden of proof is low and this law provides an important source of compensation for seamen.
If you work in the port you probably qualify as a longshoreman or harbor worker and may be able to get money through the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act if you are involved in an accident. To get money through this federal program you don’t have to prove negligence was involved; you only need to have been injured while on the job. Either law will help you get money to cover your lost wages and medical bills. If you die on the job your dependents are entitled to the same benefits.
Legal Resources in Palm Beach
Being able to figure out which law applies in your situation, to file a claim correctly, and then battle against your employer to get the money you are owed isn’t easy. You can find an experienced maritime lawyer in Palm Beach to help you navigate this complicated system of laws, though. A professional who has worked for other maritime workers to get them the cash they deserve has the expertise you need to fight for your rights. Don’t let your employer or the insurance companies deny you the money you need to get back to work after an accident. Work with a maritime lawyer and fight back.