Marine terminal accidents usually occur because marine terminals as workplaces are incredibly busy spaces. A marine terminal is specialized type of port, designed and built so that cargo can be loaded or unloaded efficiently and in large quantities. These types of marine terminals are usually reserved for container vessels or large freighters.

The cargo loaded and unloaded from these vessels tend to be relatively massive, requiring special care and equipment. The cargo management systems in place, including cranes, forklifts, other machinery, are there to promote efficiency — but not always your safety, contributing to marine terminal accidents.

Trucks, tractor-trailer combinations, and specialized vehicles are constantly on the move at marine terminals, creating traffic hazards on top of the already dangerous work of quickly and safely off-loading cargo from a vessel. The sheer speed and magnitude of marine terminals can make them intimidating work environments, so workers and management alike must be diligent about following safety best practices.

Common Types of Marine Terminal Accidents

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers at marine terminals have higher fatality, injury and illness rates than other workers in the U.S. Some of the most common marine terminal accidents include:

  • Marine Terminal AccidentsTraffic accidents – Marine terminals require constant vehicle use. From tractor-trailers to simple automobiles, traffic is a major concern, especially given that many of the roadways are relatively uncontrolled. Traffic accidents, therefore, are a significant concern, and direct cause of a high proportion of injuries sustained in marine terminal accidents.
  • Machinery accidents – Marine terminals employ a large number of heavy machinery during day-to-day operations. Cargo containers are constantly on the move, requiring the use of specialized cranes. Marine terminal accidents involving machinery can quickly lead life-threatening and catastrophic injuries.
  • Pedestrian accidents – Collisions are not the only motor vehicle accidents that can occur in marine terminals. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable, in no small part because most vehicles around marine terminals are of big and powerful. Pedestrians are common in marine terminals, but uncontrolled intersections and busy roadways can make the very simple act of walking relatively dangerous.
  • Hazardous chemicals – Marine terminal workers are routinely tasked with transporting cargo with varying levels of environmental toxicity. Spills and leaks from containers carrying hazardous chemicals mean that workers could be accidentally exposed. Hazardous chemicals require specialized care and treatment for this very reason.

Common Types of Injuries in Marine Terminal Accidents

The most common types of injuries in marine terminal accidents are a result of motor vehicle collisions. However, even those collisions can create various injuries for workers. Some of the most common types of injuries include:

  • Broken bones from collisions
  • Whiplash
  • Lacerations
  • Injuries from mechanical malfunctions (such as crushing injuries)
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Sickness or illness related to exposure to hazardous materials
  • Injuries from motor vehicle collisions (pedestrian)

There are countless ways to improve safety in marine terminals — even heavily used and trafficked ones. Installation of traffic controls and proper training for all workers are two of the most effective ways to improve safety outcomes. It’s incumbent on management and workers to follow safety procedures with the utmost professionalism in order to ensure marine terminal accidents are rare, and the severity of those accidents is limited as much as possible.

Understanding Your Legal Rights After Marine Terminal Accidents

If you’re a longshoreman and you’ve been injured while working at a marine terminal, you might not be sure of your legal rights. Often, large container vessels will be flying under international flags, which can make liability in the case of marine terminal accidents difficult to place.

That’s why it’s essential you work with an experienced maritime attorney. Injured workers are almost always entitled to Maintenance and Cure, but motions and paperwork must be filed promptly by certain due dates in order to be valid.

At Montagna Maritime Law, we’ve helped dock workers, longshoremen, and seamen protect their rights after marine terminal accidents. If you’ve been seriously injured, the last thing you want to focus on is the legal repercussions of that injury. The experienced attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law work closely with clients to make sure you can focus on your recovery.