The Port of Detroit and surrounding waters are busy with trade, shipping, ferries, and small cruise ships. This means that working in this maritime area is dangerous for seamen and longshoremen. If you get hurt on the job here, let a Detroit maritime lawyer help you get the compensation you deserve.
Detroit’s Maritime Industry
Detroit is a Midwestern city in the heart of the interior of the U.S. It is also an important maritime location and has been for hundreds of years. Detroit is situated on the Detroit River, connecting two Great Lakes.
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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 through Lakes Huron and Michigan to Chicago, and cargo may continue on barges down the Mississippi River. The Port of Detroit plays a big part in this long shipping and international trade chain.
The Port of Detroit
Detroit is one of several ports in 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.
Public and private terminals for the Port of Detroit stretch from the city’s southwest side 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 millions of tons of cargo come into and leave the port.
The Port of Detroit is the third largest in the country regarding tonnage of steel cargo handled. Also important here are 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 the Detroit River as ships enter and exit the port.
Fatalities in Boat Capsizing and Sinking
In one such incident in 2007, two crew members aboard a boat died when it sank in the Detroit River. The vessel was the J.W. Westcott II, a 45-foot-long mail boat that plied the river for years.
The captain and a deckhand died in the accident while delivering a pilot to an oil tanker. As the ship 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. One minor breakdown in communication can lead to a severe tragedy.
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 essential 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, demonstrating how important communication is between workers in a port.
Bulk Carrier Collision
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 resulted from an incident 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 an extended period. 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
You have an exciting and lucrative job if you work in the Port of Detroit or on the ships that ply the waters of the Great Lakes and the Detroit River.
The downside to maritime work anywhere is that it can be hazardous. 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, so you must know your maritime law rights. Whether you are a seaman or a longshoreman, maritime law entitles you to seek damages 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.
Take advantage of legal resources like a Detroit maritime lawyer to help you make sense of it all. This experienced professional can help you navigate maritime law, file claims, start lawsuits, and win arbitrations and court trials. Let this expert be your guide, representation, and ally in your fight to get the money you are owed.