How Safe Are Cargo Ships?

Often, despite the best efforts and intentions of all involved, cargo ship accidents can and do happen. Whether in port or at sea, cargo ships can be an inherently dangerous workplace. The attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law have worked with many seamen and maritime workers who have been injured in cargo ship accidents.

Cargo ships, also referred to as container ships, are responsible for transporting the vast majority of the world’s goods between continents. The ships themselves are among the largest ever constructed, and they sail through nearly all types of conditions. The ships are also usually laden with significant amounts of cargo, all of which must be properly secured. As a result, cargo ship accidents can escalate from routine to life-threatening.

Cargo Ship Accidents

Cargo ships have a significant amount of mass, both in terms of the containers they carry and the displacement of the ships themselves. This means that everything on a cargo ship is large and powerful. The types of accidents that occur on cargo ships are usually a result, at least in some way, of that size and power.

Common types of accidents include:

  • Cargo transport accidents – Stacking and transporting cargo containers must be done in a safe and stable manner. A typical container can weigh several tons, posing a danger to both ship and crew when improperly secured, leading to containers falling over. Varying from best practices and safety guidelines can result in accidents and injuries.
  • Accidents involving machinery – Cargo ships rely on powerful machinery to complete basic tasks. From engines to cranes, breakdowns in machinery can be dangerous and cause accidents, especially when maintenance or safety guidelines are not followed.
  • Slips and falls – It might sound mundane, but a slip and fall on a cargo ship can have dire consequences. In the worst of cases, a seaman could fall overboard, a life-threatening situation.
  • Collisions – In 2017, two high profile collisions occurred between container ships and U.S. Navy destroyers. Collisions at sea happen — and they can happen in port, as well. Any type of collision involving a cargo ship can have disastrous consequences due to the sheer mass of the vessels involved.

Types of Injuries Caused by Cargo Ship Accidents

Because the types of incident tends to vary, so too does the kind of injury involved in cargo ship accidents. Injuries can range from very minor to significant and life-threatening. As with any injury suffered at sea, the line between a routine injury and a dangerous one can be quite thin. Types of injuries that are common in cargo ship accidents include:

  • Cargo Ship AccidentsCrushing injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Burns
  • Loss of limb
  • Spinal injuries or paralysis
  • Back injuries
  • Hypothermia or exposure
  • Hazardous chemical exposure

All cargo ships or container vessels should have strict safety and security procedures and policies in place. It’s also worth noting that some accidents can be related not only to the cargo ship itself but also the containers on board. Cargo ships are routinely loaded with hazardous materials, and those materials present their own unique risks.

Cargo ships will have strict rules and procedures in place designed to minimize the occurrence of accidents or, when an accident is unavoidable, the severity of injuries. However, cargo ships are undeniably a challenging and risky work environment. As a result, injuries can be both varied and severe. The attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law have helped victims of cargo ship accidents and know how life changing injuries can be. That’s why we work hard to achieve justice for all of our clients.

Understanding Your Rights in the Event of a Cargo Ship Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a cargo ship accident, it’s important to be aware of your rights. Many cargo ships sail under the control of multinational corporations and in international waters. This can make it difficult to identify responsible parties, and move forward in order to claim compensation.

But it’s important to remember that you have rights under U.S. law. Under the Jones Act, all seamen have the right to Maintenance and Cure — in other words, you’re entitled to payments for lost wages and medical expenses. If you’ve been injured due to negligence, faulty equipment, improper training, or a host of other reasons, you might be entitled to more compensation.

But there are strict limitations on how and when any complaint under the Jones Act (or other maritime laws) must be filed. That’s why it’s important to have a legal team well-versed in maritime and Admiralty Law. The attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law have, collectively, decades of experience helping injured seamen get the best results possible after suffering a cargo ship injury.