Situated in Brevard County, Port Canaveral serves as a naval, cargo, and cruise port, making it one of the busiest ports in the United States. It has over 2 million annual cruise passengers and over 3 million tons of cargo moving through the port each year. It’s also home to an array of maritime accidents, involving not only seamen, but passengers as well. Sadly, a good majority of accidents that occurred in Port Canaveral could have been prevented had employers and vessel owners taken proper safety precautions beforehand.
Port Canaveral Seamen Accidents
Port Canaveral employs over 20,000 maritime workers. From commercial fishermen, longshoremen, deckhands, vessel crew members and more, the seamen who work at Port Canaveral are the backbone of its lucrative industry. Yet, as well-paying as the maritime industry is in Port Canaveral, it comes with a hefty price. Each year, a multitude of seaman are injured on the job, ranging from minor injuries to death. The following are among just a few examples of maritime injuries that have occurred at Port Canaveral:
Norwegian Breakaway, November 2013: A crew member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s passenger ship Norwegian Breakaway was injured when he was hit on the head by an unknown object, and a 70-year-old vacationer suffered a fracture in two separate incidents. The 1,068 ft.-long, 146,600 ton ship returned to port after the seaman and passenger were hurt, and two waiting helicopters flew the two victims to separate local hospitals. Brevard County Fire Rescue reported that the seaman had suffered a serious neck injury. The cause of both accidents was not clear, but it is believed that rough seas contributed to the injuries.
Crown Princess, November 2006: Nearly three dozen passengers and crew aboard the Princess Line’s Crown Princess were injured when a steering problem caused the ship to list on one side, tossing many of the 4,300 people aboard to the decks of the ship. The then-new ship, which is operated by a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Lines, was on its way to New York from Port Canaveral when something went wrong with the steering system. The 113,000 ton ship listed sharply to port (left). The list caused hundreds of crew and passengers to lose their footing and fall to the decks or hit the walls of their cabins. Of the 33 persons taken to hospitals after the Crown Princess righted herself and returned to port, two were injured critically, 14 were listed in serious condition, and the rest suffered minor injuries to necks and backs.
Accidents and Employer Responsibility
Many accidents at sea are often caused because a vessel’s owners have not kept it well-maintained, repaired, and in a seaworthy state. Maritime workers need to be given a work environment that is as safe as possible, even taking into account the unpredictability of weather and sea states. In many cases, the profit motive often outweighs an owner’s primary responsibility to make sure a ship’s crew is safe. Costly but necessary refits or repairs are put off, done hastily, or never done at all, making vessels unseaworthy and dangerous to live and work in. If you’re a Port Canaveral seaman who was injured while working at sea and the accident was caused by someone else’s neglect, you have the right to seek legal redress for your injuries.
The Jones Act allows seamen who are hurt while working aboard vessels and such offshore facilities as mobile oil rigs to sue their employers for the costs of their medical treatment and rehabilitation, present and future lost wages, past, present and future physical pain and mental anguish. To be awarded any Jones Act compensation, a seaman must prove that negligence on the part of the employer or a vessel’s state of unseaworthiness caused the injury. Because a Jones Act case is complex and must be filed before the statute of limitations expires, hiring an experienced maritime attorney is recommended.