Common Causes of Maritime Accidents

Working on ships, ferries, and other sea vessels can be a dangerous job. Accidents casn cause injuries, property damage, and even deaths. In 2008, the US Coast Guard responded to more than 27,000 offshore incidents that caused around 800 deaths and more than $121 million in property damage. In order to reduce the risk of maritime accidents, it is important to ensure that a shipping vessel is “seaworthy” through proper maintenance and equipment.

According to the website of Williams Kherker, most maritime accidents are caused by negligence on the part of management or ship owner. Seafarers are protected by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 otherwise known as the Jones Act, which allows them to collect damages if they can prove negligence on the part of their employers. In addition, the Jones Act entitles families of deceased maritime employees to collect death benefits for the death of their loved ones who were killed in a maritime accident.

Most maritime accidents were caused by human error which could have been prevented. Some of the errors that they make were due to being overworked, lack of sleep, or lack of proper training. A slight mistake by the crew can lead to serious injuries for the other workers. Human errors account for roughly 7 out of 10 maritime accidents. With a simple mistake, the boat could capsize, collide with another vessel, explode from a fire, or sink due to overboarding.

Maritime accidents can be preventable with proper care and maintenance. Likewise, keeping equipment up-to-date can also prevent accidents due to equipment failure. Aside from that, cargo must be properly loaded as it could result to head injuries, crush accidents, to name just a few. These are negligent acts which could make the person-in-charge liable under the Jones Act.

When reporting an injury or death, it should be accompanied by an accident report which contains the following:

  • the date and the location of the accident
  • The extent of damage
  • An expert evaluation of the most likely causes of the accident

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