Cargo Ship Fire Traps 32 Crew Members

The Danish container ship, Britannia Seaways, caught on fire on the upper deck, placing 32 crew members at risk. A rescue attempt was made using helicopters from Norway, but the mission could not be completed due to bad weather. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but was extinguished thirteen hours after it initially broke out. No injuries or deaths were reported and the ship's condition was considered good enough to continue sailing to Bergen.

Whether it is off the coast of Norway or in the Port of Seattle, Washington, extreme events like the 13-hour fire onboard the Britannia Seaways can result in a catastrophic injury. Terrible winds, bad current, or exhausted crew members can all lead to events that result in a traumatic injury. Catastrophic injury is an injury that is so severe the crew member or passenger cannot possibly return to living their life as they had prior to the accident. A catastrophic accident may occur because of bad weather and sea conditions, but it can also occur because of a slip-and-fall hazard on the ship. Catastrophic injuries can create the need for one or more life-long treatments like psychological therapy, physical therapy, or dependence on prosthetics. Typical conditions include traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, amputation, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, and nerve damage.

Injured crew members have different remedies available through maritime law. Crew members may be able to make a claim through the Jones Act. The Jones Act, or Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is legislation that was enacted to hold vessel owners accountable for the death, injuries, or illness that occur as a result of the negligence of the owner, fellow crew member, or passenger. Only those that are considered seamen can make a claim under the Jones Act. To make a claim through the Jones Act, you must be a person whose job contributes to the function of the vessel or accomplishment of the mission. There must also be a connection to the vessel in navigation both in nature and duration.

Passengers onboard ships that do not qualify as seamen under the Jones Act may be able to pursue a negligence action. Negligence suits in maritime law are similar to civil suits on land. if the owner fails in their duty to provide reasonable care, and this failure results in the catastrophic injury, the owner is liable for damages. Reasonable care under the circumstances must be provided by the owner of the vessel to both crew members and any passengers onboard. Under the Jones Act, if the ship owner or employer showed willful and wanton misconduct through their ownership of the ship, then they may also be liable for the punitive damages on top of the damages for medical expenses and lost wages.

The experienced Washington maritime catastrophic injury attorneys, Gordon Webb and John Merriam, know what action needs to be taken in order to maximize the compensation you and your family will need for the years of care that this sort of injury demands. They understand the pressures facing their clients and clients' families and that the initial offer made by insurance companies may seem like a good idea initially, but prove to fall woefully short in the long run. Through diligent investigation and use of medical experts, our lawyers will work tirelessly to provide you with the representation you need during this time. If you or a family member has experienced a catastrophic injury, contact our office at 877.800.1007.

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