Located on the southern tip of Texas along the Rio Grande, Brownsville is ideal city for the maritime industry. The Port of Brownsville, a deepwater seaport, offers import and export shipping for goods including steel, iron ore, grain, petroleum products, and more. In addition, commercial fishing, especially shrimp fishery, is lucrative in Brownsville, with dozens of shrimp boats going out into the Gulf of Mexico. The Port of Brownsville employs a myriad of seamen, and with such busy work coupled with jobs that considered risky, accidents and injuries are bound to occur. However, many of these accidents stem from unseaworthy vessels and employer negligence.
Brownsville Maritime Accidents and Injuries
Unfortunately, working at the Port of Brownsville comes with inherent risks and dangers. For example, in October of 2009, a 58-year year old worker was unloading cargo from a vessel when an industrial chain struck him in the head. He was immediately rushed to a local hospital in critical condition. After the accident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began a thorough investigation of the incident.
In November of 2011, another accident that led to injuries took place at the Port of Brownsville when a propane gas leak occurred. The leak caused a release over 57,000 gallons of gas to disperse into the air. Numerous area employees were evacuated, yet one worker was injured when a ruptured valve struck him. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) investigated the accident.
The aforementioned accidents are only among a few of the instances in which workers have been hurt at the Port of Brownsville. For instance, with several commercial fishing vessels in Brownsville, including the Tiburon, Chief, Valley Tide, and more, fishing accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries in Brownsville. Common commercial fishing accidents include slips and falls, falling overboard, severe weather conditions, and fatigue from being overworked. In fact, according to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 545 seamen lost their lives during 2000-2010 while fishing on commercial vessels.
Freight barge accidents are also common in Brownsville. With tons of cargo entering and leaving the port on a frequent basis, it’s not necessarily uncommon for accidents to happen. Yet, several accidents stem from broken machinery and defective equipment. Employers must oblige to federal and state maritime laws that mandate all seaman must be provided with the safest possible working conditions. When employers fail to repair faulty cargo straps and other devices used for maritime work, accidents typically follow, and can often be fatal.
Employer Negligence and Injuries in Brownsville
As with other major ports in the United States, employers of seamen in Brownsville must adheres to state and federal maritime laws, as previously mentioned. If these laws are broken and a seaman is injured, the employer is typically responsible for damages. If you’ve been injured, it’s important to understand what your legal rights and options are. An experienced maritime attorney is recommended for any maritime worker who was injured on the job due to the negligence of another party. For more information on rights and compensation, see our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.