Maritime Law on the Columbia River

Vessel owners and operators have a duty to provide their employees with a safe workplace under the Jones Act. Failing to adhere to safe practices and regulations can result in injuries to maritime workers given the inherent perils of working on the River and nearby Washington and Oregon Coasts. When accidents happen, understanding your rights under maritime law can be the difference between receiving a full settlement or no compensation at all.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a maritime accident in Washington, Oregon, or Alaska, contact the experienced maritime lawyers at BOATLAW, LLP.

With multiple offices along the Pacific Northwest, our lawyers are licensed in multiple states and equipped to tackle your maritime liability issues at both the federal and state levels.

Call BOATLAW, LLP at 1-800-262-8529 now to learn more about how an experienced maritime and admiralty attorney can help ensure your rights under the maritime laws are enforced.

Attorney for Maritime Injuries on the Columbia River

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest and the largest North American river emptying into the Pacific Ocean. For purposes of the courts’ admiralty jurisdiction, the Columbia River qualifies as navigable waters of the United States. The Columbia River is 1,243 miles long and its headwaters are in Columbia Lake. Under centuries old maritime jurisprudence, it meets the test because it is a river that is capable of being used, in its ordinary condition, for the carriage of people or property (See The Daniel Ball, 77 US. (10 Wall) 557, (1870).

The river is also known for their river cruises, it provides a historical adventure of Columbia’s past and a wonderful experience of the breathtaking Northwest region. The Columbia River cruises provide local experience, and since 2019 the industry continues to grow attracting many to Hayden Island, with a total of seven ships on the river. Nevertheless, the Columbia River has been dubbed “The Graveyard of the Pacific,” in that it has seen approximately 2,000 shipwrecks since 1972. It is one of the most dangerous rivers flowing into the Pacific and ship owners, and operators need to be vigilant in exercising safety. Many experienced captains would rather transit the Gulf of Alaska in Winter than cross the Columbia River Bar, located at the River’s mouth.

There are approximately 17 ports on the Columbia River, including ports in Kalama, Longview, and Arlington.  The maritime industry plays a key role in the region’s economy. While accidents do sometimes occur, vessel owners have a duty to maintain safe practices when sending workers into the swift currents of the Columbia River.

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Ports Along the Columbia River

Maritime employers operate vessels from port to port along the Columbia River. The port towns are also home to tourism and recreational activities. Some of the ports on the Columbia River include the following:

  • Port of Ilwaco  – Ilwaco, WA
  • Port of Astoria – Astoria, OR
  • Port of Longview – Longview, WA
  • Port of Kalama – Kalama, WA
  • Port of Woodland – Woodland, WA
  • Port of St. Helens – Columbia City, OR
  • Port of Camas-Washougal – Washougal, WA
  • Port of Klickitat – Cook, WA
  • Port of The Dalles – The Dalles, OR
  • Port of Arlington – Arlington, OR
  • Port of Morrow – Boardman, OR
  • Port of Umatilla – Umatilla, OR
  • Port of Walla Walla – Walla Walla, WA
  • Port of Pasco – Pasco, WA
  • Port of Kennewick – Kennewick, WA
  • Port of Benton – Richland, WA

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Types of Maritime Claims BOATLAW, LLP Handles

Under maritime and admiralty law, vessel owners warrant to their workers that the vessel, its gear and equipment shall be fit for their intended purposes. In other words, the ship shall be seaworthy. Deficient equipment or even incompetent or insufficient crew can render a vessel unseaworthy.

A ship owner’s breach of the duty of seaworthiness subjects it to liability under the general maritime law. If you have been injured due to the negligence or unseaworthiness of a vessel or its operator anywhere in Washington, Alaska, California, or Oregon, you may be entitled to the following money damages:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Permanent impairment
  • Loss of domestic services
  • Loss of consortium

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Additional Resources

The Jones Act:  Visit The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) website. The AMP is a coalition designed to unite the maritime community, including vessel owners, shipboard workers, builders, yard repairmen, manufactures, etc…. The AMP represents the interest of the domestic maritime industry.  The site provides information on how the Jones Act relates to the domestic maritime industry in the U.S.

MARAD: Find information on the website of the Maritime Administration which is an agency within the U.S Department of Transportation that deals with waterborne transportation.
The U.S. Constitution invests the federal courts with original jurisdiction over maritime cases, although certain types of maritime cases are heard in state courts pursuant to the Savings to Suitors Clause.
In those instances, federal law is the substantive law of the case, whereas state law governs the procedure. Contact information for state and federal courthouses appears below.

King County District Court — West Division
King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: (206) 205-9200
Fax: (206) 296-0910

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
The Honorable Ricardo S. Martinez, Chief District Judge
700 Stewart St.
Suite 2310
Seattle, WA 98101
Phone: (206) 370-8400

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Find a Lawyer for Maritime Liability in Cowlitz County, WA

If you or someone you know was injured working on a commercial vessel as a deckhand, officer, diver, or in any other capacity and needs assistance with medical bills, lost wages, or other compensation as a result of the injury, contact BOATLAW, LLP.

Our lawyers have served the communities with maritime issues throughout the Pacific Northwest for years. We take cases throughout Cowlitz County, in the Longview metropolitan area and in other areas throughout Washington State, including Longview, Gray’s Harbor, Olympia, Port Angeles, and Willapa Bay.

Call BOATLAW, LLP at 1-800-262-8529 to schedule a no obligation consultation to learn more about how a maritime liability attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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