Detroit is a Midwestern city in the heart of the interior of the U.S., but it is also an important maritime location and has been for hundreds of years. Detroit is situated on the Detroit River, which connects two of the Great Lakes. Ships come from the Atlantic Ocean, up the St. Lawrence Seaway, through Lakes Ontario and Erie, and finally onto the Detroit River. From here they may continue on through Lakes Huron and Michigan, to Chicago, and cargo may even continue from there on barges down the Mississippi River. The Port of Detroit plays a big part in this long chain of shipping and international trade.
The Port of Detroit and the surrounding waters are busy with trade, shipping, and even ferries and small cruise ships. This means that working in this maritime area is dangerous for seamen and longshoremen alike. Waters on the Great Lakes can be as hazardous as any other regions in the world and the Port of Detroit is busy, full of big equipment, heavy cargo, and a lot of moving parts. Accidents and injuries in this industry are all too common. If you get hurt on the job here, let a Detroit maritime lawyer help you get the compensation you deserve.
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The Port of Detroit
Detroit is one of several ports in the state of Michigan, but it is the largest and most important to the shipping industry. It sits on the west side of the Detroit River, opposite the international border with Canada and the city of Windsor in Ontario. Both public and private terminals for the Port of Detroit stretch from the southwest side of the city into suburbs further downriver like Ecorse and River Rouge, and up along the Rouge River.
Detroit’s terminals handle all kinds of cargo including general cargo, liquids, dry cargo, and breakbulk. Each year there are millions of tons of cargo that come into and that leave the port. In fact, the Port of Detroit is the third largest in the country in terms of tonnage of steel cargo handled. Also important here is cement, coal, road building commodities, and iron ore. In addition to the cargo terminals, Detroit has space for ferries and regional cruise ships.
Detroit Maritime Accidents
Just because the Port of Detroit is not on the Ocean does not mean it does not have dangerous waters. Accidents happen on the Great Lakes and on the Detroit River as ships come in and out of the port. In one such incident that occurred in 2007, two crew members aboard a boat died when it sank in the river. The boat was the J.W. Westcott II, a 45-foot long mail boat that plied the river for years. Both the captain and a deckhand died in the accident while delivering a pilot to an oil tanker. As the boat approached the tanker, it started to take on water, which is typical, but in this case it took on more than usual. The boat listed to the port side and filled with water within seconds. It happened too quickly for the two deceased crew members to escape.
The busy terminals of the Port of Detroit are sometimes the sites of accidents too. In 2013, for instance, a worker was killed in an accident with a forklift. The 62-year-old longshoreman was guiding a forklift driver, an important job as forklifts carrying cargo have limited visibility. Unfortunately, this driver lost sight of the worker helping him and struck him with the forklift. The worker died from his injuries and the incident demonstrates just how important communication is between workers in a port. One small breakdown in communication can lead to a serious tragedy.
Even when maritime accidents are not so fatally tragic, they can still cause serious problems like injuries, damage to equipment, and environmental disasters. Two of these were the result after an incident that occurred on the Rouge River in 2013. A bulk carrier struck and damaged a historic bridge over the river, the Jefferson Avenue Bridge. It caused enough damage to the structure to shut it down for a long period of time. The ship also received significant and expensive damage, but luckily no one was injured. The fault for the accident was with the drawbridge operator who was found to be intoxicated. He lowered the bridge onto the ship, causing the damage.
Maritime Rights and Legal Resources
If you work in the Port of Detroit or on the ships that ply the waters of the Great Lakes and the Detroit River, you have an exciting and lucrative job. You probably love your work. It’s exciting and important, and it keeps you busy and on your toes. The downside to maritime work anywhere is that it can be really dangerous. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you know how terrible it feels to be hurt and unable to work. It’s also expensive, which is why you need to know your rights under maritime law. Whether you are a seaman or a longshoreman, there is a law that entitles you to money for your injuries.
Your employer may fight back if you try to get the money you are owed, and trying to use the law to get what you deserve can be daunting, especially when going up against a big insurance company. To help you make sense of it all, take advantage of legal resources, like a Detroit maritime lawyer. This experienced professional can help you navigate maritime law, file claims, start lawsuits, and win in arbitrations and court trials. Let this expert be your guide, your representation, and your ally in your fight to get the money you are owed.