Boats of all shapes and sizes are used around the United States for the purposes of trade, transportation, fishing, living, recreation, military, law enforcement, and numerous other purposes. Two recent media reports highlight the unique complexities and dangers of boat explosions, which is what we will discuss in this article titled, “No Matter What Size Vessel, Boat Explosions Cost lives”.
Read on to learn more about how boat explosions on any size vessel can be devastating, as well as what you can do to stay safe and get help if injuries occur. To find out more about your individual legal rights and maritime law, contact us to discuss your case.
Boat Explosions Cost Lives
The type and severity of injuries suffered after a boat explosion vary greatly. The severity of injuries often varies depending on how significant the explosion was, the source of ignition, and how directly those onboard were exposed to the explosion, flames, or debris. Injuries may be minor, such as burns or small cuts, or may be catastrophic or even fatal.
Consider two recent examples that demonstrate just how dangerous boat explosions can be, and how no matter what size vessel or location, the dangers do not discriminate.
- Large Vessel Example: Toward the end of April 2017, the news of an explosion off the coast of Cape Cod sent ripples throughout the maritime industry. An explosion in the front storeroom of bulk carrier Tamar claimed the lives of two people onboard, and severely burned several others. Transporting cargo from Baltimore, Maryland to Azores, Portugal, the crew of Tamar was assisted by several agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard, the New York Air National Guard, the Portuguese National Guard, and the Canadian Coast Guard.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately determined and was extinguished without catastrophic damage to the ship. Investigations have been ongoing to determine the cause of the explosion, with preliminary reports suggesting a methane gas leak in the front storeroom moving to adjacent areas. The gas could have been sparked by a variety of ignition sources, as many electrical fittings were not explosion proof.
- Small Vessel Example: The size of the vessel does not equate with the level of danger should a boat explosion occur. Consider, for example, recent reports of an explosion aboard a house boat situated on Lake Powell. The explosion reportedly occurred when someone onboard attempted to start a generator. One person was killed in the explosion and four others were flown to nearby hospitals. There were 25 people onboard at the time of the explosion.
Boat Explosion Accidents and Injuries
Whether you are working onboard a yacht, sailboat, houseboat, bulk carrier, fishing ship, oil rig, or any other unique maritime vessel, boat explosions are a very real concern. While in some cases boat explosions are accidental, often times fires or explosions are caused by preventable or needless factors. Some of the most common causes of boat explosions include:
- Improper maintenance or use of equipment
- Negligence in training or supervising those onboard
- Defective or malfunctioning equipment
- Electrical hazards, such as faulty or poorly managed wiring
Boat explosions also have unique complexities due to the fact that seagoing vessels may not be able to withstand damage caused by the explosion. This presents another set of related dangers due to the possibility of the boat sinking. For those onboard, this amplifies the dangers as they may be exposed to harsh weather conditions, cold water temperatures, or be vulnerable to drowning.
Getting Help After a Boat Explosion
If you work in the maritime industry, or are planning to be a passenger aboard a seagoing vessel, you may be particularly interested in what the law says about onboard hazards and how to get help if you are injured while onboard. Federal laws, such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and the Jones Act, offer specific guidance for maritime workers depending on their title and classification as a maritime worker.
Maritime laws are complex, and have unique elements that make working with an attorney vital. Factors like the location of the accident, applicable state laws, classification of the vessel, and various factors directly related to the accident may all influence what laws apply to your case. Anyone who has been injured while working onboard a seagoing vessel should contact a maritime attorney to discuss their legal rights and any unique elements of their case.
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