Located 23 miles north of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale is a popular tourist destination, and its large shipping facility, Port Everglades, is home to over 40 cruise ships. Port Everglades is a deepwater port which also serves container ships from all over the world. The U.S. Navy also uses the facilities as a liberty port. The port is the third busiest cruise port in the world, outranked only by PortMiami and Port Canaveral, which are also in Florida. However, many seamen, longshore workers and passengers have been injured or killed in incidents at the facility or aboard ships making the transit from or to the largest deepwater port south of Virginia, many which were the result of negligence or issues of seaworthiness.
Types of Accidents and Injuries in Maritime Jobs
Ft. Lauderdale’s huge shipping facilities are among the busiest in the U.S. East Coast. Over 5,400 container ships pass through Port Everglades every year, and 46 cruise ships belonging to various companies, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Holland-America, are based there.
Incidents involving passengers are rare, but longshore and seamen who work on or around ships are frequently injured or killed while on the job. Maritime jobs involve working in places where floor surfaces are often treacherous because they’re slick with lubricants or seawater. Machinery and heavy containers take up deck space, and steep ladders and metal hatches are potential hazards for seamen moving and working on a ship or on the loading docks.
Under these conditions, maritime workers are exposed to many dangers, especially if their employers neglect to keep their vessels safe and seaworthy. Whether they work in floating palaces like the Carnival Triumph or working container ships like the Maersk Alabama, seamen based in or passing through Port Everglades are often involved in the following accidents and injuries:
- Shipboard fires
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Fractures from falls caused by damaged ladders
- Head injuries caused by improper use of machinery by others
- Man-overboard incidents
- Amputations of upper limbs while using faulty cranes or winches
- Accidents involving scissor lifts on the docks
- Lifeboat drill accidents
- Exposure to asbestos-containing materials
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Food poisoning from noroviruses
- Sprains and strains
Although working on a ship, especially when it’s underway on the water, involves some risks, employers have a responsibility to provide seamen with a safe working environment. However, there are many instances when a seaman is injured because the company neglects to maintain its vessels and allows them to become unseaworthy. Ships need constant maintenance. If a ladder is allowed to rust or a fuel line leak is not repaired in a timely manner, accident rates increase and crew members suffer more injuries.
Legal Resources in Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
If you’re a seaman that’s been injured while on the job, it’s important to understand that you have legal rights that protect you under maritime law. An experienced Ft. Lauderdale maritime attorney is recommended in order to help you receive the damages you’re entitle to. For more information on compensation and rights afforded to injured seamen, see our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.