Accidents in Engine Rooms
If you are a crew member working on a ship or vessel you know that the engine room can be a dangerous place. Engine rooms on ships contain high temperatures, highly pressurized equipment and machinery can create a treacherous working environment. All types of injuries can occur in a ship’s engine room when proper precautions and safety measures are not taken. These injuries can be very serious, if not deadly. Some of the most common conditions leading to engine room accidents include:
- Leaks and spills on the engine room floor
- Poorly maintained equipment and machinery
- Poor lighting
- Leaks and releases hydraulic fluid and oils from engine systems
- Engine explosions and fires
- Poorly maintained Electrical equipment
- Toxic exposures to benzene and other chemicals
- Asbestos dust exposure from insulation and pipe coverings
Injured Workers Have Important Legal Rights
When an accident occurs in an engine room injured workers have important legal rights. The Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 688, is a federal statute enacted by Congress to help protect seamen who are injured or become ill in the scope and course of their maritime employment. This Act gives injured seamen the right to file a negligence lawsuit against their employers to recover damages for their injuries.
In order to prevail in a Jones Act negligence case, the injured seaman need only prove that the employer’s negligence played some role in causing his or her injuries. This is a very low burden of proof in comparison to ordinary negligence claims. In an ordinary negligence claim the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was a primary cause of his or her injuries. In a Jones Act case, your employer can be held legally liable even if your employer’s negligence only played a very small part in your injuries.
It is also important to remember that if you are a seaman who is injured in an engine room accident, you are entitled to collect maintenance and cure benefits from your employer regardless of who may be at fault for your injuries. Similar to state worker’s compensation benefits, Jones Act seamen have an absolute right to collect maintenance and cure benefits when they are injured on the job. In cases of exposure to asbestos products on ships and vessels that years later cause the workers and seamen to be diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer or mesothelioma, those workers have the right to file a third party case or product liability against the asbestos product manufacturer and the ship owner for their injuries and other damages.
Crew members who suffer from burns and other engine room-related injuries may also have the right to file legal claims against other responsible parties, including the owner of the ship or vessel. Under General Maritime Laws, ship owners have an absolute duty to provide seamen with a “seaworthy” ship – a ship that is suitable and fit for its intended use. When the owner of the ship fails to meet this duty and a seaman is injured, the owner can be held liable for damages.
Discuss Your Case with a Maritime Attorney
At the Willis Law Firm we represent crew members and other maritime workers who have been injured in all types of maritime accidents. We understand that working on a ship or vessel is a difficult and hazardous job. When a maritime worker is injured it is important to seek advice from an experienced injury attorney. Our firm has over thirty years of experience helping injured seamen and crew members recover the compensation they are legally entitled to receive. Contact us today at 1-800-468-4878 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.