With the 10th largest port in North America, Seattle, Washington is home to an array of maritime activities. Similar to most areas with a large amount of maritime services and employment, accidents happen on a frequent basis in Seattle, especially if seamen are working in unsafe conditions or on unseaworthy vessels. In instances in which accidents happen due to the negligence of another party, such as vessel owner, employment company, or co-worker, injuries are covered under general maritime law and the Jones Act, and seamen have the legal right to file for damages against their employer.
Sea Cargo: Port of Seattle
Surrounded by water on over 1,500 acres, the Port of Seattle’s Seaport contains cargo and container terminals, 17 ocean carriers, and some of the largest panamax cranes in the nation. The seaport has so much maritime work going on at any given time that it’s been named the 6th busiest seaport in the world, handling close to 20 million loads of cargo each year.
With such a busy port, the Sea Cargo alone employs over 200,000 of the region’s employment, ranging from commercial fishermen, crane operators, dredge workers, vessel mechanics, engineers, and more. When accidents occur at the Port of Seattle, workers usually succumb to serious injuries that can last a lifetime, and even death.
Examples of Accidents and Injuries in Seattle
Although maritime accidents can happen even with the best of care and on the most seaworthy vessels, the amount of injuries that happen because of employer negligence is exorbitant in Seattle. For example, in many instances, crew workers have been required by their employers to work in extremely dangerous weather conditions, resulting in slip and fall injuries, broken bones, and more. All of these accidents could have been prevented if the employers used caution and protected their workers instead of requiring them to work in hazardous weather.
Another common occurrence in Seattle that has led to injuries is allowing seamen to work on unseaworthy vessels. Tugboats in particular are used quite often in Seattle and have been linked to numerous accidents and injuries. Tugboats that travel through the Inland Passages and Puget Sound have an important role in guiding ships and transporting products, yet unsafe vessel conditions have led to a plethora of injuries among tugboat workers in Seattle.
Other common accidents that lead to injuries in Seattle include:
- Unsafe and defective cranes
- Slippery vessel conditions
- Cargo accidents
- Repetitive use injuries
Sadly, some accidents claim the lives of maritime workers. In May of 2012, a young maritime worker died needlessly while working on a commercial fishing boat that was tied to the docks at the Port of Seattle. While he was performing a pressure wash on the boat, 25-year-old Francisco J. Montes-Lopez passed out. Paramedics were unable to revive him. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stated that excessive carbon monoxide inhalation played a role in the seaman’s demise.
Legal Resources for Seattle Maritime Injuries
As mentioned earlier, seamen who are injured while on the job are protected under general maritime and have legal rights to compensation if their injuries stem from the negligence of another party. If you or a loved one has been victim to a maritime injury in Seattle, it’s imperative to understand your legal rights and options before signing any legal paperwork. Seattle is home to a multitude of injuries and accidents that happen frequently, and all too often, seamen are either unaware or get tricked into signing away their rights. An knowledgeable Seattle maritime lawyer is highly recommended before signing any paperwork after an injury.
For more information on your rights as a seaman, see our article, Maritime Rights and Compensation.