Massachusetts has some of the oldest communities in the country, dating back to colonial times when the first Europeans arrived by ship. The 3,000 miles of coast has provided plenty of opportunities for the building of ports and harbors for whaling, fishing, shipping, and tourism over the years. While the state has several ports today, many of these are small and non-industrial. The largest port is the Port of Boston, at the state’s largest city.
The Port of Boston carries the distinction of being the oldest port in the Western Hemisphere that has been continuously used since the beginning. Today the port supports thousands of jobs and is a huge part of the local, but also the New England regional economy. Because this is such a big and important port, Boston has seen a number of tragic accidents over the years. If you work in the Port of Boston, know that a Boston maritime lawyer can help you if you get hurt or lose a loved one to the job.
The Port of Boston
Boston not only has the largest port in the state of Massachusetts, and one of the most important ports in the region, it is also home to the oldest constantly-operating port in the entire Western Hemisphere. The Port of Boston is nearly 400 years old and serves as the maritime hub for all of New England and plays a huge role in the local, state, and regional economies. Just one terminal here brings in 90 percent of all the fossil fuels used in the state.
The Port of Boston and related services employ over 50,000 people. The port’s economic impact extends to more than $4.6 billion every year. The major industries served in the Port of Boston include cargo and container shipping, the cruise ship industry for tourism and recreation, and commercial fishing. The Conley Terminal at the port is a container terminal that sees ships come in and out from seven of the world’s top ten container shipping lines. Every year the terminal handles about 1.5 million metric tons of cargo.
The Boston Autoport handles imports and exports of cars and other vehicles. The Autoport can accommodate up to 70,000 automobiles each year. Cruiseport Boston manages the Black Falcon Cruse Terminal, which serves several major cruise lines and sends passengers off to the Caribbean, the Canadian Atlantic Coast, and Europe.
In addition to the terminals for cargo, automobiles, and cruise ships, the Port of Boston also includes an additional 500 acres of property in South Boston, East Boston, and Charlestown. These properties include spaces for commercial fishing, office buildings, hotels, shipbuilding and ship repair, and additional berths for cargo.
The Dangers of Maritime Work in Boston
Maritime work is always dangerous, but if you work in a major port like that in Boston, you face even more daily risks. Collisions between ships, between trucks and forklifts, cargo cranes dropping heavy loads, or even tipping over, electrical accidents and fires, trips and slips, falls into the water, falls into cargo holds, and many other situations can quickly arise and cause injuries and even deaths.
Commercial fishing is a major industry in Boston and is known as one of the most dangerous of all industries, maritime or not. Commercial fishery workers face accidents with processing equipment, on board accidents from bad weather and cold water, as well as long, grueling, and physically-demanding work hours.
Boston Maritime Accidents
A port like the Port of Boston is busy, full of heavy equipment, and includes a lot of moving parts and moving people trying to communicate with each other. Accidents are all too common, both in the port and on the ships as they come in and leave the port. Some of these accidents cause injuries, and unfortunately some of them even lead to fatalities.
One such fatal accident occurred in Boston in 2009. The accident happened in the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. Exactly what happened was never discovered, but the body of a killed worker was found under a concrete barrier in one of the terminal’s warehouses. Port warehouses store equipment, cargo, construction materials, and other items. Accidents can happen here all too easily if workers are not following safety procedures, if they are not communicating well with each other, or if items have not been stored correctly. In this case, somehow, a heavy concrete barrier fell on and crushed the worker to death.
The Port of Boston is home to recreational boating activities as well as shipping and other industries. Workers in recreational boating also face dangers and so do their passengers, as evidenced by a whale watching accident that occurred in 2010. In this case everyone was lucky in that no injuries were sustained, but it could have been worse. The whale watching boat, with over 150 tourists and workers on board, ran aground at a rocky shoal. The area was signposted and well-known as a shallow water area. Someone on the crew made a mistake or a poor decision that should have been avoided.
Ferries are also a part of the activity at the Port of Boston. Ferry accidents can be especially tragic because there are so many people on board these ships, from tourists to locals trying to get to work. In 2014 a ferry traveling from Provincetown to the Port of Boston was hit by a large wave, which temporarily disabled its engine. Forty-two passengers and crew members were left stranded with water pouring onto the boat. Luckily the U.S. Coast Guard was quickly notified and arrived soon after the accident to make the rescue. Just one injury was recorded: the ferry’s captain suffered cuts after the large wave broke the glass in the pilot house windshield.
Legal Resources for Injured Maritime Workers
If you work in the Port of Boston or you work on any of the cargo, fishing, cruise, or recreational boats that use the port, you are vulnerable to accidents that could leave you hurt, sick, or even dead. Luckily as a maritime worker you have certain rights. You can make use of laws like the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act to make sure you get the compensation you deserve after an accident. And if you die on the job, your loved ones also have these rights.
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.
Let a Boston maritime lawyer help you if you get injured on the job. Filing claims and dealing with bosses or insurance companies who want to deny you compensation can be difficult and complicated. A legal professional experienced in getting claims settled can help you file your claim, make your case, and get the money you deserve and that you need to get your life back together.