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 center for trade, shipping and fishing. Cargo comes down the Mississippi River, oil comes in from the platforms in the Gulf, and containers come in from all over the world. Along with fishing vessels and cruise ships, cargo shipping makes this one busy port area.
It may be the state of Louisiana’s biggest city, but the Port of New Orleans is actually only the second-largest. The nearby Port of South Louisiana handles more cargo by ton than any other port in the entire western hemisphere. Together these two New Orleans-area ports make the region a big and important maritime zone. If you work here you run the risk of being injured every day you do your job. 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 the money.
The Port of New Orleans
As the second largest port in the state 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 of the 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 different lines serve over one million passengers per year.
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 as well. 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 around the world. The port brings in a lot of fruits and vegetables, steel, rubber, and coffee.
New Orleans Maritime Accidents
Maritime work is dangerous work, full of hazards on the water, on ships, and in the 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.
The Port of New Orleans is a busy workplace with big equipment and a lot of moving vehicles and machinery. Accidents are not uncommon, and sadly mostly 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 probably have been prevented with better communication and perhaps with better 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, went out of control and 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, and one which 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 was pushing 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 are presumed to have died, but were never found. A third crew member escaped the accident with only injuries. The reason that the ship capsized was found to be 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 that were being towed through the area. Some crew escaped, but five were killed in the fire. The workers had failed to secure a part to one of the ships. When that part fell off, it broke the pipeline and triggered the tragic blaze.
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 be facing weeks, or months of recover. You may even have permanent injuries. To help compensate for the expenses and lost wages of such injuries, the law allows you to seek money damages. Your employer and your employer’s insurance company should be prepared to foot the bill and give you what you deserve, but if not, the law allows you to file claims and lawsuits to get that money. The law also provides for any dependent loved ones you have in the event you are killed on the job.
To help you navigate the complex legal system, you should rely on an expert. 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 be sure you don’t miss deadlines, that you get all the right paperwork filed, and that you are well represented in arbitration and in 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.