If you work in a maritime job in Oregon, you are entitled to a safe workplace even amid a dangerous job. If you are facing a debilitating injury because of an accident on the job, there are federal laws in place to ensure you get adequate compensation. There are also professional and experienced Oregon maritime lawyers who can help you recover damages.
Oregon’s Important Ports
Many ships set sail from the coast of Oregon, setting out to fish and crab, to send containers overseas, or to take tourists out for travel and recreation. Among the state’s ports, two are most vital to the maritime industry.
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Port of Portland
One of the largest and busiest ports in the country is the Port of Portland. Several terminals are here from the coast along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Millions of tons of cargo move through the port every year, including a significant portion of international cargo. The port is connected to trains that move cargo out and in to be dispersed or put on ships.
To get to the port, ships must navigate the treacherous Columbia River bar, where the rough waters of the river meet the ocean’s currents.
Port of Coos Bay
Another important port area in Oregon is the Port of Coos Bay. This is on Puget Bay, located on the Pacific coast, close to northern California. It is one of the largest deep-water harbors on the Pacific Coast and is essential for taking in cargo, especially lumber products.
Millions of dollars of imported and exported cargo go through this international port yearly. The port employs hundreds of workers to move that cargo and maintain ships, equipment, and machinery.
Maritime Accidents in Oregon
If you work in the maritime industry anywhere, you face a risky job. Working on ships at sea means facing the possibility of:
- Falling overboard
- Being struck by cargo
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Being injured by fishing equipment
- Injuries from ship fires
In port areas, working as a longshoreman, you may be injured by large cargo and container cranes, struck by cargo trucks, the victim of a fall into the water, or be injured by any other type of trip, slip, and fall accident.
Actual examples of the accidents that maritime workers in Oregon and elsewhere may suffer are all too common:
- Crane Accident. In 2013, a large crane weighing more than 600 tons collapsed at the Port of Portland. Luckily no one was caught underneath the crane when it fell, but the incident illustrates how hazardous this work environment can be, especially when proper precautions are not taken.
- Fishing Boat Sinking. Fishing is a typical maritime industry on Oregon’s coast, and commercial fishing is among the most dangerous maritime jobs. In 2012 a fishing vessel ran aground on the way into the port at Newport. Large waves were blamed for losing control of the boat, and the accident resulted in the breaking apart of the ship. Luckily for the crew, the Coast Guard quickly lifted them from the sinking boat.
- Fishing Boat Sinking. Another fishing vessel sank in 2014 when it started taking on water, and again, the Coast Guard luckily rescued the crew members, and no one was lost or injured.
- Tourist Boat Fire. In 2008, a passenger tourist vessel called the Queen of the West caught fire in its engine room while taking tourists up the Columbia River. The cause was a fault in the engine that caused oil to spray into the exhaust. All passengers and crew members were rescued, but one suffered hypothermia. Many lives were saved and injuries avoided because the ship owners voluntarily installed a fire detection system.
Oregon’s River Bar Pilots
River bar pilots are specially trained workers who navigate ships through dangerous waters. They are locally based and know their area. Ship captains give up control to let these elite pilots do their job.
In Oregon, the Columbia River bar, where the river meets ocean currents, some of the best pilots in the world take ships into the Port of Portland. Columbia River’s bar is one of the most dangerous waterways and requires care and skill to navigate without incident.
Even with training and skill, these pilots are at significant risk on the job. Falls represent a major source of accidents. Pilots often use ladders to get from a boat onto a ship to be navigated, often in rough waters and dangerous weather.
In one incident from 2006, a pilot fell from one of these ladders and drowned in the Pacific Ocean. The pilot wore a life vest and had other safety gear, but the waters were so rough that he was carried away and could not be found and rescued.
In another example of a river bar pilot accident, a worker fell into the water as she moved from a ship she piloted to her pilot boat. Luckily the pilot was rescued immediately from the frigid and rough waters of the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon.
She was wearing all of the appropriate safety equipment and was lucky that, even in the darkness, her coworkers could pull her back up to the boat.
Oregon Maritime Lawyers
If you work in the maritime industry in Oregon, whether as a river bar pilot, a longshoreman in one of the ports, a commercial fisherman, or some other type of seaman, you have a right to get compensation if you suffer injuries during an accident.
There are lawyers in the state who specialize in maritime law. They are ready to help people like you get the compensation you deserve and help you navigate the complicated system of laws that make up federal maritime law.