North Carolina has two important ports that make up a significant share of the cargo that comes in along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. If you work here or on ships that come into the ports, you should know that a North Carolina maritime lawyer could be your best ally if you are injured on the job. You and your loved ones can rely on a North Carolina maritime lawyer to fight for compensation.
North Carolina’s Maritime Industry
North Carolina’s long Atlantic shoreline is primarily made up of shifting sand dunes and islands that come and go with the tides, which is not conducive to ports. However, the state has two major cargo ports, one at Wilmington and the other at Morehead City.
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The North Carolina State Ports Authority runs both, and both play essential roles in the maritime industry, handling a variety of cargo that comes in and out each year.
The maritime history of North Carolina is long and rich, with the first settlers from Europe arriving here by boat more than 400 years ago. The long coast has seen its share of shipping, international trade, and even piracy.
The Ports of North Carolina
North Carolina’s long coastline has just three ports: the Port of Wilmington and the Port of Morehead City, both cargo ports, and Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, the largest military terminal in the world.
The Port of Wilmington
The larger of the two state-run ports is the Port of Wilmington, situated on the banks of the Cape Fear River, about 30 miles inland from the mouth of the river.
It is a multi-use cargo and container port and a designated Foreign Trade Zone with facilities to handle containers, bulk cargo, and breakbulk cargo. In 2015 the port took nearly five million tons of cargo.
The Port of Morehead City
The Port of Morehead City sits at one of the deepest East Coast harbors on the Intracoastal Waterway and Bogue Sound. The port handles bulk and breakbulk cargo and is the second-largest port in the country in terms of the amount of rubber imported.
In addition to cargo shipping, the port has facilities for commercial and recreational fishing boats. Morehead City also leads other ports in exporting phosphate.
This is the leading military port serving the East Coast. The U.S. Military runs the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point and is responsible for handling military materials, many dangerous.
These include ammunition, weapons, explosives, and other military equipment. The port also serves as a transfer point, moving cargo between ships, trucks, and rail to distribute it to different places around the country.
Maritime Accidents in North Carolina
The maritime workplace is a dangerous one. Workers in ports and on ships and boats face a lot of daily hazards. In ports, the most significant dangers involve moving cargo around the port area.
Most cargo is large and can cause much damage if something goes wrong. Cargo, cranes, and port vehicles have been involved in accidents triggered by worker miscommunications, poor equipment maintenance, or errors in judgment.
Offshore ships cause accidents, too, from sinking and capsizing to onboard fires, collisions, and equipment accidents.
One such accident occurred in 2013 when a passenger ferry ran aground at Battery Island. The coast of North Carolina is dotted with islands, so ferries are essential for people to get around.
In this incident, more than 12 people were hurt after running aground abruptly, causing passengers and crew members to be thrown dangerously around the ferry.
The fault was found to lie with the ferry captain, who simply wasn’t paying attention when the boat struck a sandbar.
Tall Ship Sinking
Another accident that occurred in the water happened in 2012 when the tall ship Bounty sank. Sixteen people were on board then, and three were seriously injured.
One crew member died, and the captain was never found and was presumed to have died. The fault was with the captain, who recklessly decided to sail the ship out of its port even though they would be going into the path of Hurricane Sandy.
Port accidents are also too common and can be just as tragic as those that happen on ships out at sea. At the Port of Wilmington in 2013, a coil of wire struck a worker, who was knocked into a cargo hold of a ship and fell 70 feet.
The worker, 23 years old, had been working on unloading a ship when the 2,000-pound coil fell. The man was flown to the nearest hospital for treatment, but how the accident happened was unknown, and he was fortunate not to have been killed on the scene.
Another accident occurred at the port in 2016 when a worker was pinned between a lift basket and a light fixture while replacing light bulbs. Luckily, a ground-based spotter saw what happened, overrode the lift, and brought the worker down with only injuries sustained.
In 2001, the Port of Morehead City had to be shut down entirely when several gallons of an explosive chemical spilled. Fortunately, the spill was less significant, and the cleanup took just one day. The port reopened the next day.
The spill occurred when a forklift driver struck and punctured the highly explosive chemical containers. Authorities had to assure the press and public that it was not a terrorist incident and simply an accident on the part of the forklift driver. Fortunately, no explosion occurred, and no one was hurt.
Rights and Resources for North Carolina’s Maritime Workers
If you work in the North Carolina maritime industry, you have an exciting job but face many daily dangers. If you are a seaman, you risk being on a sinking ship, falling overboard, ing hurt in a collision, or suffering injuries from onboard equipment or fires. You could even die on the job.
As a seaman, you are covered by the Jones Act, which can help you fight for compensation if your employer was negligent in the accident but refuses to pay.
A North Carolina maritime lawyer can help you use the Jones Act correctly to get the money you deserve. A lawyer can also help your loved ones if you are killed in a workplace accident.
Working in a port makes you more likely to qualify for post-accident compensation through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. If you work in the port and are hurt on the job, regardless of negligence, this law can provide you with the money you need to pay for medical bills and compensate you for lost wages until you can return to work. If you die on the job, your dependent loved ones are also entitled to this compensation.
Regardless of your position in the maritime industry, you have the rights and resources to help you get the money you need if you are hurt on the job.
A North Carolina maritime lawyer is your best ally in these situations. This experienced professional can guide you through the steps you must make, ensure you have no errors, and represent you as you fight for your rights.