If you work in the New Orleans maritime industry, you risk being injured. It’s a dangerous industry, and if you are facing an employer who doesn’t want to pay out after an accident, you need a New Orleans maritime lawyer to be on your side as you fight for what you’re owed.
New Orleans’ Maritime Industry
Situated on the Gulf of Mexico coast and at the mouth of the Mississippi River, New Orleans holds a strategically important position in the maritime industry. The city also has a long history of being an important trade, shipping, and fishing center.
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Along with fishing vessels and cruise ships, cargo shipping makes this one busy port area. Cargo comes down the Mississippi River, oil comes in from the platforms in the Gulf, and containers come in from all over the world.
It may be the state of Louisiana’s biggest city, but the Port of New Orleans is only the second-largest. The nearby Port of South Louisiana handles more cargo by ton than any other port in the entire western hemisphere. These two New Orleans-area ports make the region a significant and vital maritime zone.
The Port of New Orleans and South Louisiana
The New Orleans area has two major ports and the two largest in Louisiana.
The Port of New Orleans
As the state’s second largest port, the Port of New Orleans is an important industrial and commercial center. It is also the sixth biggest port in the country.
The cargo that comes in here has 20 million square feet of handling space, several interstate highways for trucking, and six railroads. Six cargo terminals and six large cranes service all ships that come and go from the port, including container ships.
In addition to the cargo and container terminals, New Orleans has cruise terminals, and several lines serve over one million passengers annually.
The Port of South Louisiana
The largest port in the state and one of the biggest in the world is just outside of New Orleans. The Port of South Louisiana stretches for 54 miles along the coast and includes numerous canals and waterways.
The port brings in a lot of fruits and vegetables, steel, rubber, and coffee. Most of the grain and other products grown in the West come down the Mississippi River and head out from the port to be shipped worldwide.
New Orleans Maritime Accidents
Maritime work is dangerous on the water, ships, and ports. Seamen, longshoremen, and other workers face the dangers of falling overboard, being injured in collisions, getting caught in fires on ships, being exposed to toxic cargo, being struck by cargo or cranes in ports, or even being hit by trucks and forklifts.
All kinds of accidents are possible and all too common in and around the Port of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.
Cruise Ship Fatality
The Port of New Orleans is a busy workplace with big equipment, many moving vehicles, and machinery. Accidents are not uncommon and, sadly, primarily preventable. One such tragic accident occurred when a cruise ship worker died in the port in 2013.
The worker had been doing routine maintenance on the side of a docked cruise ship when he got wedged between a cherry picker and a platform holding lifeboats. He was crushed to death between the two objects, but this tragedy could have been prevented with better communication and training.
Collisions in busy port areas and surrounding water areas are also common in the maritime industry. In 1996 a terrible accident occurred when a large freighter, 700 feet long, coming into the port from the Mississippi River, crashed into a riverfront shopping mall.
Several people were injured in the accident, but the results could have been even worse. It was fortunate that no one died. It was a particularly forceful collision that the non-maritime workers in the mall were unprepared for. Panic ensued, which caused many of the injuries.
In another collision incident, a towing vessel pushed a barge in 2014 when it struck New Orleans’ Florida Avenue Bridge. This had a more tragic ending, as the captain sustained injuries that ultimately killed him.
In addition to the death, the collision resulted in millions of dollars of damage. The investigation found that the captain had not taken care to make sure the ship would be able to pass under the bridge.
Accidents on Ships and Fishing Vessels
Out on the water of the Gulf, off the coast of New Orleans, jobs for seamen are just as dangerous, if not more so, than the port jobs. In 2014 a trawling fishing vessel capsized, and two fishermen were lost in the water.
They were presumed to have died but were never found. A third crew member escaped the accident with only injuries. The ship capsized was found to be the incorrect use of the trawler, which caused it to become unstable.
In 2006 an accident with a ship broke a gas pipeline, and the resulting spill caused a fire to ignite on several barges being towed through the area.
The workers had failed to secure a part of one of the ships. When that part fell off, it broke the pipeline and triggered the tragic blaze. Some crew escaped, but five were killed in the fire.
Legal Resources for New Orleans Maritime Workers
Working in any area of the maritime industry is risky. You take chances when you go to do your job. If you get injured, you could face weeks or months of recovery. You may even have permanent injuries.
To help compensate for the expenses and lost wages of such injuries, the law allows you to seek monetary damages. Your employer and your employer’s insurance company should be prepared to foot the bill and give you what you deserve.
If not, maritime law allows you to file claims and lawsuits to get that money. The law also provides for any dependent loved ones you have if you are killed on the job.
You should rely on an expert to help you navigate the complex legal system. A New Orleans maritime lawyer knows the law well and knows how to take all the steps to maximize your chances of getting the compensation you are owed.
A good lawyer can ensure you don’t miss deadlines, get all the proper paperwork filed, and are well represented in arbitration and court trials. If you face the terrible uncertainty of how to pay the bills after a workplace accident, get a New Orleans maritime lawyer to help you and guide you.