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Maritime Explosions, the Injuries That Result, and Your Rights


Posted in Shipyard on February 27, 2018


Tragedy struck in an Indian shipyard recently where an explosion snuffed out the lives of five of its workers and injured at least 10 others.

The blast occurred at the Cochin Shipyard, inside of the water tank of a drilling vessel named Sagar Bhushan that had been brought in for repairs.

At Lapeze & Johns, our Houston maritime lawyers want to reinforce that the hazards that can turn a routine repair job into a life-ending situation are avoidable when proper safety procedures are taken. Consider these options before you start your next shift at the shipyard.

What causes maritime explosions?

While the risk of explosion is present within the maritime industry, it isn’t a common occurrence. Proper safety procedures are often enforced within the workplace in order to keep employers, ship owners, and workers harm-free. In the event that an explosion should occur, workers are trained to handle the situation, evacuate safely, and to take the steps to minimize damage and injury to themselves.

But it can be difficult to train for every potential cause of a maritime fire or explosion because the root cause of maritime explosions isn’t usually caused by one particular source. Flammable materials like an oil-soaked rag, volatile chemicals contacting each other that should’ve remained separated, sparks from welding, a lit cigarette, or highly-pressurized, corroded pipes that leak gases are just a few reasons that an explosion can occur.

In fact, most—if not all—of these causes are avoidable. They all result from one main source, negligence. Faulty equipment or machinery, poor flammable materials training, poor ship or oil rig design, improper storage of chemicals, storage equipment that may leak or spill, and a faulty electrical system are all types of negligence that can harm or kill workers.

What types of injuries are sustained in a maritime explosion?

Maritime explosions are the most devastating of all maritime accidents as they often lead to severe and debilitating injury – and even deaths. Some of the most frequently cited injuries caused by maritime explosions include:

  • Burns (both fire and chemical)
  • Lost limbs
  • Head injuries like a concussion or other forms of blunt force trauma to the skull
  • Back injuries from being thrown or struck by an object
  • Lacerations and cuts

If a worker is lucky enough to avoid harm in the above instances, they still have to watch out for inhalation injuries to their airways. In the recent case of the Cochin Shipyard workers, those that perished were said to have died of smoke inhalation.

What are my rights as a maritime worker?

Employers within the maritime industry must ensure that safety precautions be taken seriously in order to avoid the injury and death of their workers. When they fail, their employees suffer the consequences.

These grave explosions can leave an affected worker permanently disabled with medical bills piling up, or at worst, leave behind a grieving family with mounting funeral costs, a lifetime of pain, and with no clear idea on how to get the much-needed restitution to help their financial situation.

While some companies may not want you to know, workers on ships, ports, and offshore rigs all have the right to seek compensation should an accident occur. That right is also extended to families of the worker that perished.

That’s why it is best to know your rights in advance, so if you were ever to become injured or perish in a maritime accident like an explosion, you can inform your loved ones of what they can do to fight for justice in your place.

If you or someone you love is affected by a maritime explosion:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Reach out to Lapeze & Johns, Houston’s best maritime lawyers, for consultation.
  • Take pictures of your injuries.
  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident and any other contributing factors you may notice.
  • Never admit fault if you are seeking compensation. It may reflect badly should your claim go to court.
  • Get names of witnesses who viewed the accident.

Lastly, let our experienced maritime attorneys handle the details of your case while you focus on recovery.

The maritime attorneys of Lapeze & Johns have over 30 years experience representing those who have suffered injuries from maritime accidents and explosions. We have recovered over $350 million for our clients. Trust in our ability to successfully handle your claim.  

Your rights are your primary defense against the maritime business that feels you don’t deserve your due compensation after you’ve sustained injury. Your Houston maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns, however, are your valued reinforcements that will fight tooth and nail to make your voice heard.

Contact us today at (713) 739-1010 for your free legal consultation.