The maritime industry in the U.S. is a big part of the economy, for the whole country, for individual states, and for local areas. This is certainly true for Maryland with its strategic location on the Atlantic coast and with the long coastline of the Chesapeake Bay. Although the state is small, the many inlets and the Bay that presses well into the interior, Maryland has over 3,000 miles of coast. The maritime industry here is dominated by the large Port of Baltimore, but there are several other smaller ports used mainly for fishing and recreational and charter boating.
In Maryland, as in any state with a lot of coastline and big ports, the maritime industry is important to the economy. It provides thousands of jobs and millions in revenue. The industry is not without its problems, though. If you work as a longshoreman or seamen in Maryland you know that you work in an industry that is full of hazards and in which you can easily get hurt. Too many maritime workers are hurt in Maryland and in other locations, in accidents that could have been prevented. If you get hurt on the job in a port or on a ship, let a Maryland maritime lawyer help you fight for the compensation you need to pay your medical and other expenses as you get back on your feet.
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Although Maryland’s coast is a long one, it is mostly dotted with small towns and small ports. The exception to that is the Port of Baltimore, located on the Patapsco River. The port area is not only a major tourist draw, with restaurants, shops, and the world-famous National Aquarium, it is also a major hub for regional industry. The Port of Baltimore imports and exports cargo and also has berthing space for cruise ships.
The port includes five public terminals for cargo and container ships, 12 private terminals, an intermodal container transfer facility, and cruise ships that depart regularly for the Caribbean, New England, and the Atlantic coast of Canada. Several different cruise lines operate from the Port of Baltimore. Cargo, however, is the main industry here. The largest exports from the Port include waste paper, automobiles, and coal. Chief imports include automobiles, petroleum products, sugar, minerals, fertilizer, salt, and construction and farm machinery. With everything taken together the port is responsible for more than 100,000 jobs and over $3 billion in salaries and wages.
Maryland is also home to several smaller ports up and down its lengthy coast. Baltimore is the only port to handle cargo and containers and the smaller ports are dedicated to fishing and recreation. These include Port Annapolis, Solomons Island Harbor, the Port of Cambridge, Somers Cove Marina, City Yacht Basin, and the Naval Air Station at the Patuxent River.
Maryland’s Maritime Accidents
Only the Port of New York and New Jersey is bigger or busier than the Port of Baltimore on the east coast. With such a productive and large port, not to mention the often rough waters off the coast of the state and in Chesapeake Bay, it’s no wonder that Maryland has seen its fair share of maritime accidents.
In 2013 an assist tug left its berth in Baltimore to help tow a barge into port, only to run aground and sink. The sinking happened because the tugboat ran into a collapsed pier, which although underwater was known to be present. Luckily for everyone on board the tugboat had not gone too far out yet, and it was able to return to the dock before it sank. No one was hurt in the incident, but the boat was damaged and it leaked thousands of gallons of fuel into the water. The fault in the accident was found to lie with the boat’s mate who used poor judgment in going so close to the collapsed pier.
In many more examples of accidents, some people get injured or even killed, especially tragic considering that most accidents were preventable. For instance, one person on the dock in Baltimore was injured when a tanker, 477-feet long and with 24 people aboard, collided with the CSX Pier in the port. The tanker was in the process of turning into its berth when the collision occurred that caused one injury and millions of dollars in damage to the pier and the tanker. The error was found to lie with the pilot operating the tanker who approached the turn with too much speed.
A frightening accident, which could have been much more serious, occurred in the Port of Baltimore. The accident was triggered by a miscommunication between seamen on a moored ship and longshore workers on the dock. They were engaging in a tricky maneuver to unmoor the ship, which involved ropes from the ship being attached to pickup trucks on the dock. Someone on the ship misunderstood and thought that all trucks had disconnected, so they began to reel in the ropes. One truck was still connected and was dragged into the water with the driver still inside. Luckily this worker was able to act quickly and jumped out of the truck before it hit the water. He suffered a minor injury to one leg.
Rights and Legal Resources for Maritime Workers
It is clear that the maritime industry, especially in a large and busy port and waterways, can be dangerous. Many different types of accidents are possible, from running aground and sinking, to being pulled into the water from a pier. Not everyone emerges unscathed from these accidents. Too often workers get hurt and sometimes even killed in tragic workplace incidents. What makes them all the more terrible is that most accidents should have been prevented by good training, expert judgement, clear communications, and other factors. When something goes wrong and a worker is hurt, he or she does have rights.
Those rights include the right to receive monetary compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, pain and suffering, and other costs. Surviving dependents also have these rights when they lose a loved one to a maritime job.
Unfortunately, figuring out just how to access these rights isn’t always easy. If you work in this industry and in the state of Maryland, there are resources for you. Maryland maritime lawyers are your best resource for filing claims, starting lawsuits, and ensuring that you get the compensation you are owed.
With the guidance of this legal professional, you or your surviving loved ones, can be sure that you are taking all the right steps. You can be certain that you aren’t making the kinds of mistakes that will cost you money. Working with a Maryland maritime lawyer is the smartest move you can make after a workplace accident that leaves you sick or injured.