With access to the Pacific Ocean via the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland, Oregon provides a myriad of maritime services and activities. Thousands of seamen in Portland enjoy the lucrative careers that maritime work brings. On the other hand, however, Portland has a high rate of maritime injuries and accidents, many of which stem from the negligence of employers. From crane accidents to injuries stemming from repetitive use aboard vessels, Portland has a high amount of incidents that could have been eliminated with the proper preventative measures.
The Port of Portland
The Port of Portland, boasting four marine terminals, is responsible for the shipping of a multitude of national and international goods. In fact, over 17 million tons of cargo go through Portland on an annual basis. Seaman are responsible for a host of activities to ensure that shipping and the handling of cargo is done correctly. From longshoremen unloading goods aboard vessels, mechanics repairing parts, and more, seamen are the forces behind the maritime industry at the Port of Portland.
In addition to cargo, other types of work in the Portland maritime industry includes commercial fishing, cooks aboard vessels, electricians, engineers, oilers, deck crew work, chief officers, tugboat operators, and much more.
Of course, as with any other area with a high amount of maritime activities, Portland seamen are at risk for a host of injuries and accidents, especially if they aren’t afforded their legal right to work aboard a seaworthy vessel, around safe equipment and in safe weather.
Maritime Accidents in Portland
In 1993, a longshoreman Michael Cork was killed by a top loader located in one of the Port of Portland’s terminals. Although Cork’s employer moved to dismiss any liability, an investigation determined that a safety violation occurred which led to the seaman’s death. The Board attested to the findings by stating:
“Employers have a duty to attempt to prevent workers from being killed by machinery on the job, under the general duty clause as well as more specific safety rules. As acknowledged by Mr. DeForest, `on the surface, the fact that a top loader hit and killed someone looks like a violation of some [safety] rule.”
In another Port of Portland accident in the late 90s’, longshoreman Donald Ronne suffered a traumatic injury that led to a total and permanent disability. Ronne suffered a knee injury while working on the deck of a vessel. After surgery on the injured knee, he was released to return to work, yet his condition worsened when attempting to climb a crane aboard a vessel. The pain eventually spread to his lower back and other areas. Although Ronne prevailed in court with the help of a maritime attorney, his employer and insurance adjuster tried to deny his claim based upon him returning to work after his knee surgery.
Seaman Rights in Portland
Donald Ronne’s maritime lawsuit is a prime example of why seamen should never return to work until they are 100% sure they are better and most importantly, if you’ve been injured, never sign any paperwork that may reduce or eliminate your rights unless you’ve retained legal representation to protect you. If you’ve been injured while on the job, it’s important to seek medical treatment right away, and if you disagree with a physician’s assessment, get a second opinion. In the meantime, if your employer or an insurance adjuster attempts to coerce into signing any paperwork you are not comfortable with, it’s crucial to find a Portland maritime attorney who can assist you.
For more detailed information on rights and benefits, see our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.