Fires onboard ships seem like they might not be all that dangerous. After all, when surrounded by water, how big of a problem can a fire become? When it is an engine room fire, it is an incredibly serious issue. In 2014, an engine room accident onboard a massive cruise liner resulted in the death of three crewmembers. (CruiseCritic.com, 2014) This proves that even the most sophisticated and modern engine rooms can suffer fires and accidents that lead to serious injury and death.
Naturally, it is the crew or maritime workers in those engine rooms who are at the most risk when an accident or fire occurs, but that does not mean that others remain unharmed. After all, a fire can cause an explosion and harm large numbers of the crew. There are also the fumes that an accident in an engine room can generate, and this too can lead to danger. There are also the electrical issues at such times, leaving many people exposed to electrocution.
The list of possible injuries or problems that an engine room accident could cause is extensive, and yet so many of the problems can easily be described as avoidable. Everything from blown lines to inadequate fire suppression equipment can all be pointed to as reasons for an engine room accident to have caused widespread injury or trouble. These reasons, and the fact that they were not addressed, is seen by the law as a form of negligence. This is a sort of negligence that leads to liability and the demand for compensation.
Because engine rooms are dangerous and because so many injuries and accidents occur in them, a lot of maritime workers wrongly feel that they won’t have any right to pursue maintenance and cure, compensation, or support after an incident occurs. After all, if you work in a high-risk area you have to just accept that you are going to be injured, right?
Actually, the answer is “No.” The maritime laws are in place to reduce the threats of such accidents and the damages they impose on workers. When even rigid safety standards and federal guidelines fail to prevent accidents, there are further rules in place to offer those injured a way to be compensated – and particularly if negligence played a part in the issue.
As an example, a vessel’s owner or the employer responsible for those operating it will always be legally obligated to ensure that those working onboard the vessel have the appropriate level of training to do the job assigned. They are also to be sure that the individuals doing the work get enough time off between shifts to prevent fatigue. Owners and employers are also to be sure that any equipment has been inspected and maintained, and repaired if needed. Such simple issues can be used to determine and subsequently prove negligence. The burden of proof is on those injured, however, and so it is best for someone who is seeking compensation to consult with a maritime lawyer immediately after an engine room accident.
Whether you’ve experienced a head or back injury working in a cramped space or you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one due to an engine room accident, a maritime lawyer is going to be able to help you obtain any maintenance and cure or compensation that is yours under the law. Don’t hesitate to sit down with a lawyer and discover all of your options.