After a maritime accident, victims and their families can be left confused about what to do next. In these situations, having a knowledgeable Washington maritime injury lawyer is an essential first step.

Maritime accident lawyers don’t just understand the law; they carefully guide victims through the process, aiming to get them the compensation they deserve.

In this article, we’ll go over maritime accidents, including the legal options available to victims, potential types of compensation, and how an experienced maritime injury lawyer can make a difference.

Washington Maritime Accident Lawyer

If you are a Washington seaman, dockworker, deckhand, officer, longshoreman, or other maritime worker and have suffered an injury on the job, the experienced Washington maritime injury lawyers of BoatLaw, LLP (formerly Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski) may be able to help.

Call 1-800-262-8529 today to speak with the experienced maritime injury lawyers at BoatLaw, LLP. Our attorneys will fight to get you what you are entitled to for your injuries.

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What Is the Maritime Industry in Washington?

The state of Washington, especially the Seattle metropolitan area, is a major maritime industry hub, with over 3,200 miles of shoreline and 75 port districts. In the last two decades, ports have seen a significant increase in maritime traffic, especially cruise ship activity.

The cruise ship industry has supported the economy of the state through visitor spending, cruise operations, crew expenditures, and more. Local and small cruises provide a mix of history, culture, nature, and activities. From 2000 to 2019, the cruise industry in Seattle grew from 120,000 passengers to 1.2 million (See Port of Seattle Cruise Ship Industry 2019). This thriving maritime industry provides thousands of Washington residents with employment, but not without risk. Maritime occupations have some of the highest levels of workplace injury.

In addition to cruise ships, Washington boasts a number of maritime businesses. The Columbia and Snake Rivers are home to several barge operations, the shipbuilding industry has four major yards in Seattle, the commercial fishing industry has over 300 companies that call Washington home, and significant amounts of trade with Asia goes through the ports of the Puget Sound. The Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma combined make the Northwest Seaport Alliance—the third-largest container complex in North America.

The Washington maritime industry also includes marine technology, which involves the development and maintenance of equipment used in underwater exploration and activities. Washington’s coastal location, along with its access to significant water bodies like the Pacific Ocean and the Puget Sound, makes it a central hub for maritime activities in the United States. This industry plays a role in supporting the state’s trade, providing jobs, and contributing to its overall economic growth.

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Common Maritime Careers in Washington

In Washington, the maritime sector offers a variety of jobs that are essential to its economy and the operation of its ports and waterways. The most common maritime jobs include working on commercial fishing vessels, where individuals catch fish and seafood for sale and distribution.

Another significant role is that of ship and boat captains, who navigate vessels across the water. Engineers and mechanics specialized in marine equipment maintain and repair ships to ensure they are safe and operational. Additionally, dockworkers and longshoremen play a big role in loading and unloading cargo from ships at ports.

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What Is a Maritime Injury?

A maritime injury in Washington refers to any harm that occurs to an individual while working in or around the maritime industry. This can include accidents on commercial fishing vessels, injuries suffered on cargo ships, or accidents occurring in shipyards and ports. Common injuries may result from slips, falls, equipment failures, or accidents during the operation of vessels. Given the physical and potential hazards of working at sea or in port environments, injuries are not uncommon. Employees who suffer from maritime injuries often have the right to seek compensation and medical care under maritime laws.

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Where Do Most Maritime Accidents Happen in  Washington?

Most maritime accidents in and around Washington occur in busy waterways and ports, as well as in the fishing grounds off the coast.

Anacorteslocated in Skagit County, Washington, and home to many dock and shipyard workers, commercial fishermen, and tugboat crew members. The Port of Anacortes, known as Cap Sante Marina, serves as a customs port-of-entry, playing a role in the city’s maritime activities by offering marine, marine terminal, and airport facilities.

Bellevue – a vibrant city in King County, Washington, positioned across Lake Washington from Seattle. The city’s proximity to Lake Washington makes it a significant area for maritime industry employees, including those working offshore. The maritime sector in Bellevue contributes to the local economy, employing a wide range of workers from offshore workers to commercial fishermen and dockyard workers.

Bellingham houses a waterfront port supporting a variety of maritime activities, including shipbuilding, ship repair, and commercial fishing. The city is also a gateway for cruises to the San Juan Islands, offering whale watching and sunset cruises.

Columbia Riveran important waterway for the maritime industry, supporting numerous ports along its banks. It is known for its hazardous conditions, leading to it being named “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” Despite the dangers, the river is a significant route for maritime commerce and recreation, including river cruises that offer a glimpse into the region’s history.

Everett notable for the Port of Everett, which stands as the largest public marina on the West Coast. Everett is significant for its maritime activities, being home to Naval Station Everett and a port that specializes in handling aerospace parts for around 750,000,000 jetliners.

Grays Harborlocated in Southwest Washington and features a rapidly growing port that handles a range of cargo, including soybeans, making it the leading exporter in the United States. The port’s deep water berths accommodate “RoRo” ships for automobiles, and it is also a primary seafood landing port in the state.

Kalamasituated on the Columbia River in Cowlitz County, Washington, and known for its port with mainline rail and Interstate 5 access. The port is a hub for over 30 companies, employing more than 1,000 people, and deals primarily in grain and timber. It features recreational areas including a 222-slip marina. The maritime sector in Kalama is important for its economic development.

Longviewlocated at the intersection of the Cowlitz and Columbia Rivers in Cowlitz County and known for the Port of Longview. This port is a big component of the maritime industry, facilitating the passage of a variety of vessels, including cargo, tanker, and fishing vessels.

Port Angeleslocated on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Port of Port Angeles is known for its deep water capabilities, accommodating a variety of vessel types including special craft, tug, cargo, and passenger vessels. The maritime industry in Port Angeles employs many residents and others who work on vessels home-ported there. The area is home to many maritime workers including sailors, pilots, tug and barge workers, and fishermen.

Seattlea massive city in King County with a significant maritime industry because of its location on Puget Sound. The city’s ports see a variety of maritime activities, serving as a hub for both commercial and recreational vessels. This city plays a crucial role in international trade, facilitating the exchange of goods with Asia and other parts of the world. Moreover, Seattle’s waterfront is also a popular destination for tourism and leisure.

Tacomalocated about 30 miles south of Seattle in Pierce County, and a significant player in Washington’s maritime industry with its proximity to Puget Sound. The city provides important port services through Admiralty Inlet, acting as a gateway for sea vessels entering Puget Sound.

Vancouvera part of Washington’s thriving maritime industry, with the Port of Vancouver on the Columbia River. The port handles bentonite clay, copper concentrate, and wind energy components, contributing significantly to the local economy.

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Who Are the Regulators in Washington’s Maritime Industry?

  1. The Washington Department of Ecology manages the environmental impact of maritime activities, and focuses on pollution prevention and response.
  2. The Washington Department of Labor & Industries regulates workplace safety and labor standards, ensuring that maritime workers operate in safe conditions and are fairly compensated.
  3. The Washington Ferries, a division of the Washington Department of Transportation, oversees the largest ferry system in the U.S., ensuring safe and efficient transportation across waterways.

These state agencies work alongside federal agencies to regulate the maritime industry.

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What Types of Accidents in Washington Are Covered Under Admiralty and Maritime Law?

Admiralty and maritime law in Washington cover a range of claims for victims involved in maritime accidents. Maritime workers in the state are susceptible to a range of specific injuries due to the demanding and hazardous nature of their work. These injuries include traumatic injuries from slips, trips, and falls on slippery decks or from heights, leading to broken bones, spinal injuries, and concussions. Overexertion from lifting heavy loads can cause musculoskeletal injuries, such as herniated discs and chronic back pain.

Repetitive motion tasks (RSI) can lead to strain injuries, including tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers are also at risk of drowning or near-drowning incidents in the event of man-overboard situations. Exposure to hazardous materials can result in chemical burns, respiratory issues, and long-term occupational diseases. Moreover, operating or working near heavy machinery without proper safety measures can lead to crush injuries, amputations, and severe lacerations.

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How Does the Jones Act Protect Washington Maritime Workers Who Are Injured?

The Jones Act provides significant protection to maritime workers in Washington who are injured on the job. This federal law allows seamen who are hurt while working to seek compensation from their employers for injuries resulting from negligence on the part of the employer or co-workers. Under the Jones Act, a “seaman” is someone who spends a significant portion of their work time on a vessel in navigation.

This law is particularly important in Washington, where many people work on fishing boats, ferries, and cargo ships. It ensures that injured workers can receive compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, and other expenses related to their injury.

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How Does the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Assist Injured Maritime Workers in Washington?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides assistance to maritime workers in Washington who are injured on the job, but who do not qualify as seamen under the Jones Act. This includes workers involved in loading, unloading, repairing, or building ships, as well as those working on docks, terminals, and other maritime facilities.

The LHWCA offers compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages because of injuries. It also provides benefits to the families of workers who die from job-related injuries. This federal law ensures that workers who are not covered by traditional workers’ compensation laws because of their maritime employment still receive necessary financial support and medical care after workplace injuries.

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What Are Maintenance and Cure Claims in Washington?

Under general maritime laws, vessel owners are liable for damages if they fail to ensure their vessel is seaworthy. If a vessel is deemed unseaworthy and a seafarer is injured as a result, the vessel owner may be liable for damages. These damages can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and additional costs related to the injury.

Maintenance and cure involves the vessel owner’s obligation to cover an injured seaman’s living expenses (maintenance) and medical costs (cure) until they are fit for duty or reach maximum medical improvement.

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Who Can File a Claim in Washington Under Admiralty and Maritime Law?

In Washington, a wide range of individuals can file claims under admiralty and maritime law if they suffer injuries or damages related to maritime activities. This includes workers on ships, like seamen, fishermen, and dockworkers, who may file claims for injuries suffered on the job. Passengers on commercial and recreational vessels can also file claims if they are injured because of negligence or unsafe conditions. Additionally, families of maritime workers or passengers who die because of maritime accidents or injuries can file wrongful death claims.

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What Are Wrongful Death Maritime Claims in Washington?

A wrongful death claim in Washington allows a family to seek money for their loss when someone dies because of another’s mistake or negligence on the water. This compensation can help cover hospital bills the deceased had before passing, funeral costs, and the money the family loses without their loved one’s support. It also includes money for the emotional pain of losing a close family member and the loss of their love and friendship.

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What Is the Legal Process for Filing a Claim in Washington?

The legal process for filing a claim under admiralty and maritime law in Washington involves several steps.

  1. Initially, the injured party or their legal representative must identify the appropriate legal basis for the claim, whether under the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or general maritime law.
    Next, you need to gather evidence to support the claim, including medical records, witness statements, and any other documentation related to the injury and its circumstances.
  2. The next step involves filing a formal complaint in either state or federal court, depending on the claim. This complaint must outline the details of the case, the basis for the claim, and the compensation sought.
  3. Following the filing, the legal process includes phases of discovery, negotiation, and possibly trial, where both sides present their evidence and arguments.

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How Does a Washington Maritime Accident Lawyer Help a Victim?

A Washington maritime accident lawyer plays a major role in assisting victims of maritime accidents. They ensure the victim knows their rights and the potential for compensation. These lawyers have the skills to thoroughly investigate the accident, gathering evidence and witness statements to build a strong case. They can accurately assess the full extent of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other applicable losses.

By negotiating with insurance companies and opposing legal teams, Washington maritime accident lawyers aim to get the best possible settlement for their clients. If necessary, they are prepared to take the case to court, advocating on the victim’s behalf with compelling arguments and evidence. Throughout the legal process, these lawyers provide support, keeping victims informed and making complex legal procedures understandable.

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Additional Resources

Washington Department of Commerce Maritime News
The Washington Department of Commerce provides insights and updates on maritime innovations and developments within the state. Through their Maritime News section, they highlight partnerships, initiatives, and investments for improving Washington’s maritime sector. This resource is a valuable tool for staying informed about the maritime industry’s economic development, sustainability efforts, and technological advancements in Washington state, including details on significant projects like the “Washington Maritime Blue” initiative.

A Century Later, Jones Act Still Important to Washington’s Maritime Economy, Jobs, and National Security
Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) emphasizes the enduring importance of the Jones Act, a century after its creation, to Washington’s maritime economy, job creation, and national security. The Act requires the use of American-owned vessels for transporting cargo between U.S. points, supporting local marine industries, and securing the maritime supply chain.

Longshoreman’s and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Coverage
This resource from the Washington Legislature outlines the rules and plans for ensuring longshoremen and harbor workers have access to compensation coverage as required by the United States Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. It details the creation of a reasonable plan to provide coverage for those unable to get it through the normal insurance market, involving participation from all authorized insurers and the Washington state industrial insurance fund, aiming to support a healthy maritime industry.

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Hire a Maritime Accident Attorney in Washington

If you have received maritime injuries in Washington, you may be entitled to compensation. These injuries can be debilitating and can take substantial time and money to get you back on your feet.

Call 1-800-262-8529 today to speak with the experienced maritime injury lawyers at BoatLaw, LLP. Our attorneys will fight to get you what you are entitled to for your offshore injuries.

BoatLaw, LLP represents clients with offshore injury claims coast-to-coast in courts in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California.

Our offices are located in Bellingham and Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco, California.

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