Maritime work is dangerous in Portland and anywhere else. Workers in the port and on ships coming and going are at risk for many accidents. If you get hurt on the job, let a Portland, Maine, maritime lawyer help you get the compensation owed under the law.
The Port of Portland, Maine
Not to be confused with the Port of Portland in Oregon, this is Maine’s busiest and biggest port. Historically, this location became important as a harbor and port because it is protected from the weather and the naturally rough waters off the coast of Maine.
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Unlike other spots on the coast, Portland has decent weather, and the water here never ices over in the winter. With deep water in the harbor, it is the ideal spot for a port and is a center for cargo shipping, recreational boating, commercial fishing, ferry lines, and even a few cruise ships.
Cargo shipping is the biggest industry in the port, and oil is the number one commodity. Nearly 23 million tons of oil pass through the Port of Portland each year, and the location includes berths for oil tankers, temporary storage, rail service, and an oil pipeline. The port is the second biggest importer and exporter of oil on the east coast of the U.S.
In addition to cargo shipping, the port includes ferries, cruise ships, commercial fishing vessels, and recreational charter boats.
Portland’s Maritime Accidents
The Port of Portland can be a dangerous workplace, and accidents, like at any other port, are all too common. These accidents can cause injuries ranging from mild cuts and scrapes to broken bones, head and neck injuries, and back injuries, and in the worst cases, may lead to fatalities.
It isn’t just the port area that is hazardous. The waters leading into any port are crowded, busy, difficult to navigate, and conducive to collisions and other accidents.
Waters further offshore are also dangerous for seamen working on ships and commercial fishing vessels. The northern waters off the coast of Maine are notoriously rough, especially in the winter.
Fishing Boat Sinking
In February 2012, two fishermen experienced how scary it can get out on the waters off the coast of Portland. The two men manned the fishing vessel and were working to drain water from the fish tanks on board when they broke a pipe.
This led to flooding on the boat, which they could not control. Luckily for them, they were rescued, and both escaped injury, but it must have been frightening to know that the boat was going down and the result could have been much worse. The ship ultimately sank about ten miles off the coast.
Tanker Bridge Collision
Another offshore accident occurred in the Portland port area in 1996. A Liberian tanker crashed into the Million Dollar Bridge on its way into a terminal at the Port of Portland.
In striking the bridge, the ship was damaged, and over 170,000 gallons of oil spilled into the water, creating a major environmental disaster. Although no one was injured or killed in the accident, the ship and the bridge were extensively damaged.
Part of the reason for the accident was that the bridge span through which the boat had to pass was only 95 feet wide, while the ship was 85 feet wide. Squeezing through was a significant challenge. Also blamed was a miscommunication between the ship’s operator to the crew.
Fatal Crane Accident
Accidents also happen on dry land, in the port. In one such accident, a ship captain suffered injuries severe enough that he died from them a few months later. The captain was coordinating the unloading of cargo when a piece of machinery weighing more than one ton struck him.
The part slid out of place because of a crane that moved in a way that was not expected. The large piece of metal pinned the captain against a railing.
He had to have a leg amputated and had to go through a total of 22 surgeries before finally succumbing to his injuries. The captain’s widow sued for damages, citing negligence by the employers responsible for the crane.
Legal Rights for Maritime Workers
In the maritime industry, both in Portland and other locations, work is dangerous daily. Just one small error in judgment or miscommunication can have disastrous consequences.
Accidents in maritime settings are always possible, from the large cranes operating in the port to the possibility of ship collisions or sinking. In the worst cases, these accidents lead to fatalities, but even when they don’t, injuries can be severe enough to keep a worker off the job for days, weeks, and even months. The costs of being hurt at work can be astronomical.
Federal maritime laws include the right to sue for compensation to protect workers in this dangerous industry. This money can help injured workers pay for medical expenses, pay ordinary costs until they can return to work, and even cover punitive damages.
Surviving dependents can also sue for this kind of compensation. If you have been injured on the job, a Portland, Maine, maritime lawyer can help you get that compensation. Without this expert to help you, making mistakes or settling for less than what you are owed is easy.