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Dry Dock Accidents

Many different types of accidents can occur onboard a vessel, from a collision with another ship or a port to equipment malfunctions. It is very common to hear about the accidents that happen at sea, but dry dock accidents can be just as dangerous. Dry docks are used for the construction, maintenance, and repair of a vessel and can often be a dangerous environment. Employees should work with extreme caution and follow proper safety techniques. There are specific laws and regulations in place to provide proper and adequate safety for dockworkers and other seamen. Nevertheless, oftentimes, dock operators, and vessel owners may fail to abide by these regulations, and as a result, crewmembers work under hazardous conditions that can lead to life-threatening injuries. Additionally, it is also the responsibility of the vessel owner to make sure all crew members are properly trained as accidents can happen from a worker’s inexperience in properly handling equipment or because of a simple careless error.

The injuries sustained from a dry dock accident can be life-changing for the dockworker and their families. In tragic cases, life-threatening occupational injuries can lead to the loss of a loved one. Whether you are the family member of a dock worker or the injured dock worker, it is imperative that you seek the help of an attorney.

Seattle, WA Dry Dock Accident Lawyer

Dockworkers are essential in making sure that operations run smoothly around ports and docks. With the various container terminals and ships passing through ports and shipping channels, dockworkers have the tasks with loading and unloading cargo, making repairs, and other duties that help operations run efficiently. Dockworkers are exposed to a variety of risks, such as hazardous chemicals from unloading cargo or falling overboard. If you have been injured on the job because of the negligence of the vessel owner or a crewmember acquiring an attorney can help you determine if you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries.

At Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC, our dedicated admiralty lawyers can help you and your family navigate through the legal difficulties and help you find a resolution to compensate you in the short and long-term. Some injuries have long-lasting consequences that may hinder your ability to work again; the financial burden of ongoing medical bills should not put you down. Our Seattle, Bellingham, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland maritime attorneys have decades of experience. At Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC, we help our clients every step of the way. Do not hesitate to give us a call at 1 (800) 262-8529 for a free initial consultation or fill out the initial consultation form. We represent injured maritime workers in Oregon, Washington, California, and Alaska.


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Types of Dry Dock Accidents

Heavy equipment and the complex machinery of the dry docks make it a high-risk work environment in which accidents can happen suddenly and cause catastrophic injuries to crewmembers. Although dry docks are dangerous, there are preventive measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of an accident.

Below are some common types of dry dock accidents that can happen:

  • Electrocution – There is a high chance of sustaining an electrical shock because of the numerous electrical connections in the engine room.
  • Equipment Failure – Tools and equipment with high-pressure components are used during maintenance operations. When a high-pressure component ruptures or bursts, it can cause severe damage to a crewmember. If a high-pressure vacuum or pipe bursts, it can puncture or pierce the skin severely.
  • Explosions / Fire – On a dry dock, fires can spread quickly because of the flammable chemicals that are being used in the repair of the vessel, or because of the flammable materials contained at the dry dock (e.g., fuel, gas, paint, welding equipment, etc.). During dry docks, the engine room is filled with various electrical connections, and a short circuit can cause a fire.
  • Enclosed Space / Toxic Chemical Leaks – Working in enclosed areas is dangerous because of the toxic and flammable chemicals. Seafarers can suffer from unconsciousness or worse death from the exposure of toxic chemicals.
  • Gate Accident / Flooding – After repairs and maintenance are complete, the dock is filled with water to start the sea trials of the vessel. Often times recent repairs may have water leakage, which can cause flooding in the engine room the loss of lives. It is imperative to be attentive and make sure that all repaired parts, valves and systems do not have water leakage. Additionally, if the gate ruptures, it can allow for the sea to burst through and flood the dry dock.
  • Loading Accident – Equipment, ship materials, and parts are constantly being loaded and unloaded from the ship, which can lead to serious injuries if the load falls. A crewmember could be crushed by falling loads. It is imperative that during crane operations, crewmembers are properly trained, and there is clear communication.
  • Slip and Fall / Trip and Fall – The engine room may be a bit hectic with spare parts, tools, and equipment lying around, and this makes workers susceptible to slip and fall accidents.

If you have been injured, it’s important to know the cause of your accident, whether that was because of a crewmember’s careless mistake, or a vessel owner’s negligence, because it can help you seek the compensation that you may be entitled to. If your employer is not interested in conducting an investigation, retain an experienced and skilled maritime attorney who can conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf. The injuries from a dry dock accident can be life-changing for you and your loved ones.


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Causes of Dry Dock/Terminal Accidents

Many dry dock accidents are caused by mistakes made by an individual. If you were injured because of the negligence or carelessness of another individual, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.

Below are a few causes of dry dock/terminal accidents:

  • Accidentally starting machinery and systems while maintenance is being done can cost the life of a crewmember.
  • Not inspecting and maintaining gates can lead to ruptures and floods.
  • Defective Equipment is hazardous for employees because, during dry dock operations, cranes are used to lift equipment or tools from the engine room. If the equipment and tools dock workers are using malfunctions or are defective, it can cause a load to fall on crewmembers.
  • Not maintaining equipment can also cause tragic incidents. For instance, not maintaining pipes can cause them to burst injuring crewmembers.
  • Workers who are not properly trained or are under the influence of alcohol or drugs are a safety concern for other crewmembers. The occupation is dangerous to start with; however, when a crewmember or a fellow coworker is impaired or not properly trained, it can increase the risk of an accident or an injury. Crewmembers work closely together and depend on each other to get the work done efficiently and safely.

If your accident was caused by the negligence of a fellow crewmember, your employer, or a third-party, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. It is vital for the safety of your coworkers, others in the maritime industry, and yourself that negligent parties are held responsible for their actions. Consult with an experienced maritime dry dock accident lawyer that can inform you of your legal options.


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Attorney for Dry Dock Accidents in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and California

The effects of your injury may have you feeling at the end of your financial rope, but it does not have to be that way. At Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC, our dedicated and passionate maritime attorneys are here to help injured maritime workers. We will be with you every step of the way. Do not suffer the repercussions of your dry dock accident injury alone. The dedicated maritime lawyers at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC, are passionate about protecting maritime rights, and we have offices in Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and San Francisco.

Call us at 1 (800) 262-8529 for a free initial consultation so we can discuss the circumstances around the accident and your injury. At Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC, our seasoned attorneys provide our clients with guidance and resources. Retaining an attorney from Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC is gaining a seasoned maritime legal team who will work tirelessly to provide you with proper and quality representation. We represent clients in Washington, California, Alaska, and Oregon.


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This article was last updated on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
  • Washington State Bar Association
    The Washington State Bar Association operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court to license the state's nearly 40,000 lawyers and other legal professionals.
  • Oregon State Bar
    The Oregon State Bar is a government agency in the U.S. state of Oregon. Founded in 1890 as the private Oregon Bar Association, it became a public entity in 1935 that regulates the legal profession.
  • Alaska Bar Association
    The Alaska Bar Association is a mandatory bar association responsible to the Alaska Supreme Court for the admission and discipline process of attorneys for the State of Alaska.