North of Seattle, on the eastern side of the Puget Sound, the Port of Everett is a busy and important point of origin and departure for container ships, commercial fishing vessels, and other boats that make up part of the local and regional maritime industry. Also near Everett, Washington is Naval Station Everett, an important station for the U.S. Navy. When put together, this comprises a large port, marina, and general maritime area, covering more than 3,000 acres.
As with any port, Everett is home to a number of industries, from fishing to shipping to recreation and real estate. Any port is a dangerous place to work, and if you work in or around the Port of Everett, you take risks on the job and are exposed to hazards every time you go to work. If you experience an accident while on the job you may need the help of a maritime lawyer to sort through your situation and your options to help you decide the steps to take to get compensation for your injuries.
The Dangers of a Port
Working in a port like the Port of Everett can be exciting and lucrative. Skilled and dedicated workers are needed in various positions to keep operations going. At the same time, it can be very dangerous working in a busy port. That a port is busy and crowded is one of the reasons it can be risky. In a port or harbor area, especially one with a busy commercial industry, there are lots of people, trucks, equipment, and machinery moving and operating at the same time. This means that accidents are fairly commonplace. If just one person isn’t paying close attention, it could lead to a worker getting hit by a truck, a crane dropping heavy cargo on someone, or a worker falling into the water, among other possible accidents.
In addition to being crowded, port areas include a lot of heavy machinery, and these can cause accidents if something goes wrong. For instance, most ports have large crane used to lift cargo to and from ships. If the cranes have not been fixed or maintained adequately, they can malfunction. A crane may swing out of control and strike workers, or drop cargo, which can cause serious injuries or even fatalities.
Being next to the water also presents a hazard. It is easy to accidentally fall into the water at a port. Workers may slip or trip and fall from a dock, from the harbor, or from a walkway or even a ship in port. Falls can be serious if workers have not been trained to respond to someone who has fallen in the water or if safety and rescue equipment is lacking. There also may be incidents in which a worker is alone, falls in the water and drowns because no one saw him go into the water. Hypothermia can also be a risk in the cold water of Puget Sound.
Accidents in and around Everett
As with any large port area, accidents happen from time to time in Everett and to workers in the maritime industry who are from the port area. For example, a man from Everett died while working on a crabbing boat. The boat had traveled all the way to the Bering Sea for crab fishing, but capsized when its cargo shifted and a large wave caused it to take on water. Six men died in the incident overall, demonstrating what the worst-case scenario is for workers in the maritime industry.
An older accident occurred more than 30 years ago, but is still remembered by the people of Everett. A fish processing vessel called the Al-Ind-Esk-A-Sea sank off the coast near Everett after a fire. The ship was anchored near Pier 1 in the Port of Everett when a fire started on it in the fall of 1982. While doing repair work on the boat, a worker’s torch accidentally caused insulation to catch fire. Fortunately all crew members aboard were able to escape without harm, but the ship was completely lost and now sits at the bottom of the Sound.
If you work in the port in Everett, or you work aboard a ship that comes into port here, you do dangerous work and you have federal maritime laws to protect you if you are injured. If you qualify as a seaman, the Jones Act gives you the right to file a claim and start a suit if you believe that your employer is not compensating you adequately and you can prove negligence in your accident.
If you don’t qualify as a seaman because you work in the port in and around, but not on the ships, you may qualify for money under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Unlike the Jones Act you don’t have to prove any negligence to get money through this law. You simply have to file for compensation if you are injured on the job.
Regardless of which law covers you, if you have an accident and are hurt on the job, you are entitled to receive the money you need to cover your lost income while you heal and to cover your medical costs for treatment. You shouldn’t have to worry about your family either. In the tragic event that you die on the job, your dependents are entitled to that compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and more.
When you get injured on the job, you are put in a tough position. You may not be able to work and you may find that your employer doesn’t want to pay out what you think you are owed. If this happens to you, turn to the expertise of a knowledgeable maritime lawyer. A lawyer with experience working on cases like yours can help you file a claim, start a lawsuit, settle arbitration, and represent you if you have to go to trial. Don’t try to go through this alone. The laws are there for you, but they can be confusing if you don’t have the specialized knowledge. Let a lawyer help you get what you deserve.