Maritime accidents are not uncommon in all coastal countries. The U.S. is not an exception from that. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s annual report in 2011 only they responded to more than 20,000 cases. They managed to save the lives of over 3,800 individuals but unfortunately other 648 suffered fatal injuries. Besides the loss of human life maritime accidents have other serious consequences. They involve serious financial losses especially in case of cargo boats or other vessels with economic purpose. The larger a vessel involved in an accident is, the more likely the incident will have consequences on the environment, especially due to leakage of fuel.
The most common types of maritime or offshore accidents include overturn, bumping accidents, crushing incidents, explosions, fires and overboard incidents. All these events have some common causes, like equipment malfunction, negligence or recklessness of the vessel operators or crew members and harsh weather conditions. However as different statistics reveal in around 70% of the cases human error plays a significant role. The victims of such accidents are various. They include crew members, maritime officers, harbor workers, fishermen, dockworkers and passengers of all type of vessels. Of course, considering that maritime employees spend more time on seas, they are more likely to suffer severe injuries than passengers.
The injuries a person can suffer on seas covers a wide range, ranging from mild to fatal. Probably the most common type of injury is represented by slip and fall accidents. Due to slippery floors, bad weather conditions or poor illumination on decks all individuals can end up with bruises, cuts, broken bones or even head and spinal cord injuries. More severe injuries include burns due to fires or explosions, intoxication, lost limbs, disfigurement and drowning.
Drowning was the cause of death of 30 years old Keith Morris, whose boat slammed into the break wall at the entrance to Stamford Harbor on the evening of July 22. Two passengers from the boat were thrown in the water and other two were trapped in the hull of the capsized boat. Residents in the area alerted the emergency unit and they managed to save the lives of the four passengers. Unfortunately nothing could be done for the boat owner.
All maritime accidents are the subject of official investigations. Their purpose is to determine the cause of the disaster, help prevent further similar cases, establish whether maritime safety law has to be improved and establish whether injured parties are entitled to financial compensation. The cause of the Stamford accident has not been determined yet, but victims and their family members are certainly interested finding out who is responsible for their injuries, sufferings, losses and the terrifying moments they spend on that night. Considering that official investigations might take a long time, individuals injured in any circumstances while at sea should contact a maritime attorney. If the victims can be legally considered seamen, meaning that they spend at least a third of their time on seas as employees, they will be eligible for compensation based on the Jones Act. As long as worker’s compensation only covers basic costs like medical bills, the Jones Act can bring more considerable compensation like present and future treatment costs, lost wages, deterioration of life style and pain and suffering. Similar compensations are available for family members of deceased seamen. Unfortunately the Jones Act does not apply to other individuals injured on seas. However they will still need and admiralty lawyer to investigate the circumstances of the case and establish whether there is a valid legal claim or not. A simple personal injury lawyer is not a valid choice in case of maritime injuries as these cases fall under the incidence of admiralty laws and they should be filed in federal courts