Located along the Mississippi River, New Orleans provides the perfect spot for the maritime industry. New Orleans is home to the Port of New Orleans, the leading cargo handling seaport in the nation. In addition to handling 50,000 barges, the Port of New Orleans is also handles 193 short tons and over 100 million annual passengers on several cruise ships. With thousands of maritime workers performing duties at the port, there are bound to be accidents, especially in the maritime field. However, if these accidents are a result of employer negligence and unseaworthy vessels, maritime workers may be entitled to damages.
Maritime Accidents in New Orleans
While some injuries that occur during maritime work are minor, such as a longshoreman who suffered a minor abrasion when unloading cargo, other injuries are much more significant. For instance, in October of 2013, the Coast Guard began investigating an accident that left a maritime worker dead. The man, whose name was not made public, worked as a crew member of the Carnival Cruise Line. While the ship Carnival Conquest was docked at at the Port of New Orleans, the man was painting the outside of the vessel when he was crushed to death by machinery.
In another devastating accident that occurred in December of 1996, a 700-foot-long freighter crashed into the local riverfront shopping area in New Orleans. The vessel was traveling down the Mississippi River when it crashed, killing at least six people and injuring several more. According to the Coast Guard, the freighter was heading down the river when it lost its power and steering. As a result, it smashed directly into a structure at the Riverfront Mall. In a panic, several guests and passengers aboard the ship began jumping into the river.
Meanwhile, some guests of the mall disappeared under the rubble caused from the crash, while others watched beans, rice, and other products that were on ship fly through the sky. A total of 800 people alone were on the vessel when the accident happened, including numerous crew workers. Although the total amount of people in and around the mall that day wasn’t recorded, most of the stores were packed with customers as it was a warm, sunny day.
Negligence That Leads to Injuries and Accidents
Both of the aforementioned stories may have been prevented with the proper precautions and safety measures. For instance, employers must ensure that their workers are afforded a safe, seaworthy vessel to work aboard before the vessel sets sail. Additionally, machinery used in and around vessels must be in good condition working condition. Sadly, many employers, in an attempt to cut financial corners or just through sheer carelessness may fail to provide the adequate precautions and safety that maritime workers are entitled to.
If You’ve Been Injured
If you’re a seaman and you’ve been injured while on the job, you may be eligible for damages under general maritime law, the Jones Act, and more. Under state and federal maritime laws, seamen who are injured must be provided with maintenance and cure benefits regardless of how the injury happened, but injuries due to employer negligence may cover damages for lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. For more information on the benefits you may be entitled to, see our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.