Engine room accidents are far too common in New Orleans and throughout the United States. The engine rooms of boats can be hazardous when crew members do not take the necessary safety precautions. Employees who have not received proper training can accidentally cause catastrophic engine failure and engine room fires.
If your loved one has become seriously injured, or if your loved one has been killed in an engine room accident, our law firm can help. The New Orleans maritime lawyers at Koch & Schmidt have extensive experience representing clients in engine room accidents. Contact our law firm today to learn whether you have a right to compensation for your injuries.
Common Causes of Engine Room Accidents
All jobs aboard a vessel can be dangerous, and working in a vessel’s engine room is no exception. In many cases, working in a vessel’s engine room can be the most dangerous job aboard a vessel. Many different types of accidents can take place in an engine room, including the following:
- Engine failure
- Electrical issues
- Toxic chemical exposure
- Heatstroke due to a lack of proper ventilation
- Mechanical malfunction
- Engine room fires
- Electrical issues
Slip and fall accidents that occur in engine rooms can happen after someone negligently leaks or spills fluid on the engine room floor and fails to clean it up properly. Many boats have extremely poor lighting, making it difficult for crew members and walking around the engine room safely without injury. In other cases, the vessel owner fails to maintain machinery and equipment in the engine room properly or fails to inspect the engine room frequently. Some boats are incredibly old, and their engine rooms have defective components or equipment. Finally, when crew members fail to maintain the vessel’s chemical containment systems, toxic leaks can occur.
Most Common Injuries
Due to the inherent danger of working in a vessel’s engine room, many injuries that happen after an engine room accident are catastrophic, resulting in permanent disability. However, even mild to moderate injuries can cause devastating consequences. In some cases, crew members who become injured in engine-room accidents cannot receive treatment right away, causing their condition to worsen. One of the best things you can do after an engine room accident is to undergo a thorough medical evaluation. You may have been exposed to toxic chemicals during the engine room accent, especially if it involves a fire or explosion.
Additionally, you may have severe internal injuries that you’re not aware of. The sooner you contact a doctor, the better, and doing so will help your chances of recovering a settlement from the insurance company, or damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Injuries commonly associated with engine room accidents include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries that result in partial or complete paralysis
- Back and neck injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Ear injuries that result in hearing loss
- Eye injuries that result in a loss of vision
- Fractured bones
- Smoke inhalation causing lung damage
- Chemical burns
- Severe second-degree and third-degree burns
Engine Room Fires
In 2018, a dangerous New Orleans engine room fire caused severe injuries. Crew members noticed the fire aboard a 47-year-old boat. They made a hard landing, but the towboat struck another vessel during the maneuver, causing injuries among three of its crew members. The fire started in the boat’s engine room. Engine room fires are more common than many people realize. Engine room accidents and electrical problems cause most boat fires. Poorly maintained engines and a failure to follow safety standards are common causes of engine room fires.
Most engine room fires are caused by oil leakage coming in contact with hotspots on engines. These types of accidents are often more serious than other fires because there is always the potential that the engine room will explode. Most hydraulic and fuel oils will ignite at any temperature above 250 degrees Celsius. When oil or liquid hits a surface in the engine room that is hotter than that, the liquid will spontaneously ignite. Crew members working in the engine room should frequently be looking for hot spots and leaks to prevent dangerous engine room fires.
Why Are Engine Room Fires So Dangerous?
While all fires are dangerous, fires that take place on boats have several layers of danger. Passengers and crew members can become trapped on the boat, unable to escape being burned by the fire. In some cases, passengers and crew members suffer from severe smoke inhalation when they are trapped in enclosed areas on the boat, causing them to lose consciousness and not be able to escape.
Those who survive can suffer ongoing medical complications from severe smoke inhalation or burns. Even if crew members and passengers escape the fire on board, they risk suffering from hypothermia, drowning, or suffering other injuries caused by water and sun exposure while they wait to be rescued.
Engine rooms aboard vessels are inherently dangerous, but that doesn’t mean accidents should go without consequences. In nearly all engine-room accidents, human error is at least partially to blame. Sometimes, vessel owners will attempt to save money when equipment breaks down or when the boat needs maintenance by ignoring the problem, or they will use cheap equipment or products that have a higher rate of failure.
In other cases, the vessel’s owner fails to hire people who are properly trained. Engine rooms are full of equipment that requires specialized knowledge to operate safely. Employers have a legal duty to ensure they hire well-qualified individuals aware of all of the safety measures they need to take when working on a boat.
Contact an Experienced Maritime Accident Lawyer Today
If you become hurt in an engine room accident, you need an attorney with experience in maritime law, which is unique from other law areas. Contact the experienced maritime lawyers at Koch & Schmidt today to schedule your initial consultation.