The 50th state in the Union is a popular tourist destination, but as an island state it also has a major maritime industry. The state sees cargo and container ships, cruise ships, recreational boats, tourist boats, commercial fishing vessels, and cruise ships come and go all the time. To accommodate this important industry, Hawaii has several ports, all under the control of Port Hawaii. Although Honolulu Harbor handles the bulk of the cargo industry, each port has an important role to play in the state’s economy.
For those workers who are injured in the state while doing a maritime job, Hawaii maritime lawyers are available to help in the battle for injury-related compensation. Longshore work and the jobs of seamen are dangerous and injuries are all too common. Because of federal maritime law, you can rest assured that you can get compensation to take care of your bills if you are hurt on the job. Unfortunately, actually getting that money isn’t always easy. This is where a Hawaii maritime lawyer comes in handy.
The many ports of Port Hawaii are led by the largest one at Honolulu Harbor. Situated on the most populous island of Oahu, Honolulu Harbor is crucial to the people of the state. Being on remote islands means that residents here rely on shipping to get many of their daily goods. Honolulu serves as the hub for cargo coming in and exports going out and is a major part of the state’s overall economy. The harbor is a natural one, but is also maintained to be adequate for shipping. Major commodities handled here include petroleum products, lumber, and break bulk. In addition to containers and cargo, the Harbor also includes space for commercial fishing vessels, passenger ships, cruise ships, and research vessels.
The second busiest port in Hawaii is also its newest. Construction on Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor only finished in 1990 and is just 19 nautical miles from Honolulu Harbor. In addition to handling cargo and containers, this port also has facilities for ship building and ship repair. Also close to Honolulu is Kewalo Basin, a man-made harbor constructed to relieve some of the congestion at busy Honolulu Harbor. It largely provides space for passenger, recreational, fishing, and research vessels.
As with any maritime location, Hawaii has seen its share of accidents on ships, in the water, and in ports and harbors. The maritime industry is a dangerous one. In ports, space is limited and is full of moving workers, moving equipment, trucks, and cargo-loading cranes. Already a natural environment for hazards, ports are often vulnerable to the kinds of accidents caused by poor judgment, lack of training, and miscommunication. Just one small error in a port, on a ship, or in the crowded waters of a harbor can lead to a serious accident that causes monetary damage, injuries, and even fatalities.
One example of an accident that occurred in the waters of Hawaii, which could have been prevented, was the sinking of a tow boat in 2015. The vessel, called Nalani, took on water and sank during trials near Oahu. Luckily, all eleven people on board the boat were able to be rescued and no one was lost or injured. The fault was found to be with the captain who made an error of judgment. He made a poor choice to get the boat underway before watertight integrity could be established. The boat sank in 2,200 feet of water and could not be recovered. It was a total loss.
It isn’t just ship accidents that can happen in the local maritime industry. Port accidents are likely to occur as well. In a crowded and busy port like Honolulu Harbor, accidents can happen when workers make the wrong decisions or don’t communicate properly. Common accidents include falling or collapsing cranes, dropped cargo, truck and forklift accidents, falling into the water from docks or walkways, toxic cargo chemical exposure, and fires. While many accidents fortunately cause no injuries, many can be devastating. Workers face broken bones, cuts and scrapes, head injuries, lost limbs, illness from chemical exposure, burns, and even death in the face of workplace maritime accidents.
Legal Resources and Rights for Maritime Workers
If you live in Hawaii and work in the maritime industry you have a great job that is exciting and lucrative. You get to work in the warm and sunny climate of this beautiful state and enjoy working near the ocean. On the other hand, you work in a job that is full of hazards. Any little mistake on the job, from you or anyone else, could lead to a debilitating injury or death. Coming back from an injury can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. Fortunately there are resources and legal rights for injured maritime workers. Federal maritime law gives you an avenue for claiming the compensation you need to get back on your feet and back on the job.
Your best resource in the event that you are injured on the job is a Hawaii maritime lawyer. Lawyers specializing in maritime law have the experience and knowledge to help you decide which laws apply to you, how to file a claim, and they can represent you if you have to face off against your employer during arbitration or a court trial. A maritime lawyer can be your best secret weapon in getting the money you need and deserve after a workplace accident.