If you work at the Port of Houston, you face risks on the job and the possibility of accidents that could leave you injured. Federal maritime laws are in place to ensure you get the money you need to get back on your feet after an accident. To help you navigate the system of laws, depend on a Houston maritime lawyer.
The Port of Houston
Of the 18 ports in the state of Texas, the Port of Houston is the biggest and busiest. It’s also one of the country’s biggest and most important ports and takes in and exports more cargo by ton than any other.
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The port is mainly dedicated to cargo and container shipping, but there is one cruise terminal here. The port spans 25 miles and leads all other ports in handling breakbulk cargo.
Each year the Port of Houston sees over 8,000 shipping vessels and more than 200 million tons of cargo.
In addition to the public shipping terminals, 150 different private companies are operating in the port, which contributes to over one million jobs in the state. The Bayport cruise terminal is a modern facility and the starting point for cruise ships in the Princess and Norwegian cruise lines.
Maritime Accidents in Houston
Many accidents have occurred in Houston area ports, some that caused multiple fatalities.
Not far from Houston, in the smaller Port of Texas City, the Houston area saw its most disastrous accident in 1947. A French cargo ship exploded because an onboard fire overheated the large cargo of highly-explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
The explosion killed several hundred people, even though the ship had been evacuated. It was such a large explosion that people in the port were killed, and thousands more were injured.
Cargo Hold Fall
One example of a less tragic accident occurred in 2015 when a worker fell into the cargo hold of a ship. He had to be removed with a crane and carried to the hospital to receive treatment for serious injuries.
In another incident, a barge ran into an electrical tower, which could have caused serious electrical injuries, but thankfully did not. Instead, it cost money by shutting down the shipping channel while repairs were made.
Houston’s port has also seen its fair share of pilot-related accidents. All boats coming into the port must hire a local pilot to navigate up the channel and into the port.
Pilots have hazardous jobs and have to move ships through the narrow channel and past other vessels moving through the same channel. Accidents are bound to happen, but too often, these are preventable accidents caused by miscommunications and pilot errors.
For example, a big collision occurred in 2001 when a pilot did not communicate to a passing ship that he was coming, and he was piloting the ship too fast for the conditions in the water. The collision didn’t injure anyone, but it did result in a major cargo spill that polluted the water.
Collisions also hurt people, including one that happened when a ship entered the port and struck a bridge over the canal. A crane on top of the ship hit the bridge. The ship’s captain should have known that it would not clear the overpass.
Several people in vehicles on the bridge at the time were seriously injured, but nobody was killed. A lot of damage was done to the bridge as well.
Legal Rights for Houston Maritime Workers
The jobs of maritime workers are dangerous, as the above examples illustrate. There are so many ways in which cargo shipping, navigation, and loading and unloading can go wrong with disastrous consequences.
Accidents may lead to minor injuries, major injuries, life-altering injuries, and even fatalities. And, if you have been in one of these accidents, you have a right to seek compensation.
To help you get that compensation, you need to rely on the assistance of a professional, someone experienced in helping other maritime workers get the money they were owed. Maritime law protects you, but navigating the many rules that apply to different types of workers and situations isn’t easy.
You may need to go up against your employer or an insurance company, which will be much easier if you have a Houston maritime lawyer on your side. With someone like this, you can get all the money you are owed, which is crucial to getting well again and back to work.