The coast of Massachusetts spans nearly 3,000 miles and has had a rich maritime history for hundreds of years, since the first European settlers arrived. There are many ports up and down the coast, although most are small and not industrial ports. The largest and busiest port in the state is the Port of Boston, and a two other smaller ports at Gloucester and New Bedford, are also ports with shipping, commercial fishing, and other maritime industries.
All ports are dangerous places to work, as are the ships and other vessels that come into ports to unload cargo, fish, and passengers. Maritime workers anywhere take risks on the job and those working in Massachusetts are no exception. If you work here keep in mind that Massachusetts maritime lawyers can help you get compensation in the event that you are injured in an accident. These experts have the knowledge and experience you need to get you the compensation you deserve.
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The biggest port in the state is the Port of Boston. This is also the oldest continually-operating port in the entire Western Hemisphere. It is the hub of maritime activity for New England and an important part of the local and regional economy. One terminal at the port is single-handedly responsible for bringing in 90 percent of the state’s fossil fuels. The port also has container terminals, a cruise terminal serving several major cruise lines, and a large Autoport that serves auto importers and exporters. Up to 70,000 vehicles go through the port each year.
There are a couple of other large ports in Massachusetts, including the Port of New Bedford on Buzzards Bay. It services cargo ships, cruise lines, and commercial fishing vessels, but also has a thriving recreational boating industry. In Gloucester, where fishing has long been the major industry, commercial fishing vessels still dominate. The port also has services for cruise ships, recreational vessels, diving, and marine supplies and repairs.
The Dangers of Maritime Work
If you work in the maritime industry anywhere in and around Massachusetts, you know how hazardous the work is. From the stevedores moving cargo in ports to the seamen operating ships as they come into port, this is dangerous work. On ships common dangers accidents include collisions, groundings, bad weather that causes a ship to sink, accidents with equipment, and falls overboard. In ports there are far too many accidents that occur with cargo and the machinery used to lift and move cargo. Vehicle accidents are also fairly common in ports.
For Massachusetts the most dangerous type of maritime work is a big part of the industry here: commercial fishing. Commercial fishermen face the some of the most dangerous conditions of any other job. The fishing equipment, the processing equipment, and the bad weather and rough waters along with long, grueling hours combine to make a workplace that is conducive to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.
Massachusetts Maritime Accidents
In Massachusetts there are all too many real examples of the dangers of the maritime industry. Many people over the years have been injured or killed on the job, either in ports or on ships and fishing boats. One such accident that occurred in 2009 was deadly. It occurred at the Port of Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. The port employee was found crushed under a concrete barrier inside a warehouse. Exactly how it happened was not immediately obvious, but the death underscores how dangerous and unpredictable it can be to work in a port setting.
For recreational workers and their passengers, the maritime setting can also be full of hazards. In 2010, a passenger boat used for whale watching ran aground on a rocky shoal. Over 150 tourists on the boat had to be evacuated, and luckily no one was killed or hurt badly. This is also an example of an accident that should have been prevented. The shallow area in which the crash happened was well-known and well-signposted. There was no reason for the crew to direct the ship into the too-shallow waters. Someone manning the ship was inexperienced and untrained, made a bad judgment or miscommunication, or even was under the influence at the time of the accident.
Another grounding of a ship in shallow waters occurred with a commercial towing vessel in 2013. The towing vessel was heading into Buzzards Bay when it ran aground on a rocky spot. The accident caused part of the ship to be damaged, which led to the leaking of several hundred gallons of oil into the water. Accidents like these can cause huge environmental problems. In this case there were no injuries, but people can get hurt in these accidents too. The mate on the vessel was found to be at fault for not using autopilot and not taking over manual control until it was too late to avoid running aground.
Legal Resources for Injured Maritime Workers
Workers who are hurt in accidents like these examples and others have legal recourse to get compensation depending on the circumstances. A seaman aboard a ship can get compensation through the Jones Act if the employer can be shown to have been negligent in the accident that caused an injury or illness. For port workers a federal workers’ compensation program is available to insure money is available after an accident on the job. For those workers who die on the job, the same rights apply to surviving dependent loved ones.
A Massachusetts maritime lawyer is a great resource for anyone who has been injured on the job and is being denied compensation. A lawyer can help with filing claims, starting lawsuits, negotiating and even going to trial. If you are in this situation and you don’t think you are getting what you deserve, let a lawyer help you figure out what steps to take next. With this expertise you can be assured that you will are able to get the maximum money that you are owed and that you need to get back on your feet after a devastating accident.