Much of the cargo ships and barges transport consists of volatile and combustible chemicals, including oil and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Even ships that do not carry these types of chemicals have fuel and other flammable materials on board and equipment that may explode. When these materials ignite at sea or at dock, it can set off an explosion that can severely injure crew members on the ship. Those crew members may be able to recover for their injuries under federal law.
A lawyer from Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski experienced in handling maritime explosion cases can represent you in seeking compensation for damages you've suffered as a result of the ignition of chemicals while at work at sea, or if you've lost a loved one due to a maritime explosion. The injuries from an explosion can be substantial, and you could lose your ability to work.
At Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, our attorneys are licensed and experienced in the federal and state courts of Washington, California, Alaska and Oregon. Contact us at 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule a free consultation.
A significant cause of explosions at sea is cargo that is combustible. Barges that carry chemicals, pressurized gas, fertilizer, and explosives like TNT and C-4 are especially vulnerable. While these materials are supposed to be tightly contained, any accident that exposes them to flame, including a collision with another ship or the harbor, may have an instantaneous, deadly result. Many of these materials are also highly volatile, and any failure to maintain them at a certain temperature or limit their exposure to other elements can lead to explosion.
Malfunctions in equipment or mistakes made in maintaining it may also lead to explosions. Some causes of explosions on vessels include:
An explosion can have numerous consequences including injuring anyone in the vicinity.
The sheer force of a blast from an explosion can cause injuries. A large enough explosion can cause a shockwave that has negative consequences for the surrounding crew and equipment. The force of ignition can toss heavy objects that may impact crew members or cause a collapse on the ship.
When an explosion happens, fire typically follows. Crew members may have severe burns and suffer injury from smoke inhalation.
When the ship is on fire, the only place to go may be into the water. Or, the force of the explosion may throw a person into the ocean. In the icy waters of the Pacific, crew members forced into the water for safety or by an explosion may drown or experience hypothermia.
Seamen have the right to seek relief in federal courts because of legislation known as the Jones Act. The Jones Act allows crew members to seek relief for medical bills, lost wages, and lost ability to work if they were injured due to an explosion resulting from negligence on the ship.
Negligence can cause an explosion when the vessel operator does not have sufficient procedures in place to guard against the events that caused the explosion. In other cases, the vessel operator may not have maintained safety manuals or operating manuals detailing those procedures. Neither are the actions of "reasonably prudent" operators and the vessel may be considered unseaworthy.
Furthermore, if a vessel owner does not have sufficient crew to implement the procedures meant to prevent explosions or the crew members are not trained on how to handle the volatile chemicals, the vessel may be considered unseaworthy.
If you are a crew member in the Pacific Northwest who was hurt in an explosion while on a vessel, or your loved one was killed at sea due to materials exploding, contact a skilled maritime lawyer at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski. We will fight for the recovery you deserve. Call us at 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule a free no obligations consultation.
This article was last updated on Monday, July 30, 2018.