Florida Maritime Lawyer

Florida’s geographical location on a peninsula with coasts on the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico makes the state ideal for a thriving maritime environment. Its coastline is the longest continuous shoreline in the U.S., and the various ports on both coasts connect Florida to other major trade centers around the world. Maritime trade and tourism create hundreds of thousands of jobs and .contributes $96 billion a year in economic value through cargo and cruise activities. However, maritime work is difficult and dangerous, and many seamen and offshore workers are injured or killed due to negligent employers or unseaworthy vessels.

Major Ports in Florida

Along with a plethora of marinas, smaller harbors, and 10 shallow draft ports, Florida’s 15 major ports handle thousands of cargo and cruise ships every year. Additionally, the state is home to 914,535 registered recreational and working boats, the largest number of licensed vessels in the U.S. Economically, the 15 deepwater ports are the powerhouses for Florida’s maritime industry. They create, directly and indirectly, 680,000 jobs and account for 13% of Florida’s Gross Domestic Product. The official names of the state’s 15 major ports are:

  • Port of Pensacola
  • Port of Panama City
  • Port of Port St. Joe
  • Port Citrus
  • Port of St. Petersburg
  • Port Manatee
  • Port of Tampa
  • Port of Key West
  • PortMiami
  • Port Everglades
  • Port of Palm Beach
  • Port of Ft. Pierce
  • Port Canaveral
  • Port of Jacksonville
  • Port of Fernandina

Florida Maritime Accidents

The high volume of traffic in Florida’s seaports, in concert with the attractive salaries that go with most of the industry’s jobs, are important contributing factors for the vital role maritime jobs play in the state’s economy. Nevertheless, maritime jobs are arduous and require long work days in a natural environment that is often inhospitable. On top of that, some employers will try to cut corners on safety procedures, regular maintenance of vessels and equipment, and hire inexperienced workers to increase profits while keeping operating costs low. This negligent behavior increases the risk of accidents to seamen, longshore workers, and other maritime professionals.

The most frequent maritime accidents and related injuries are:

  • Barge accidents
  • Collisions
  • Fishing boat accidents
  • Shipboard fires
  • Crane accidents
  • Tugboat accidents
  • Cruise ship accidents
  • Slip, trip, and fall accidents
  • Container ship accidents
  • Defective gangways
  • Defective ladders
  • Commercial diving/dive boat accidents
  • Dock and shore collisions
  • Limb amputations
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Exposure to toxic substances and/or materials
  • Burns
  • Paraplegia and quadriplegia
  • Crushing
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Wrongful death

Maritime Workers’ Rights in Florida

Because the state of Florida is on a peninsula that is nearly surrounded by water, it offers many opportunities for maritime workers on both land and sea. It is the state with the most registered vessels in the U.S., and, as mentioned before, maritime jobs play an important role in Florida’s economy. This is often offset by accidents and injuries that cause harm to seamen, longshore workers, and employees who work in offshore facilities. These injuries can result in lost time from work and lost wages, expensive medical bills, permanent disabilities, or wrongful death.

The U.S. Congress passed laws such as the Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act) and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act (LHWCA) to protect maritime workers’ rights. If you’re a maritime worker in a Florida port or on a vessel on navigable waters and suffered an on-the-job injury caused by your employer’s negligence, these laws can help you get legal redress. If your employer is not providing you with maintenance and cure or if the insurer is telling you to see a doctor you did not choose, a Florida maritime lawyer can assist you in Jones Act or LHWCA cases.