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Legal Blog

Common Oil Tanker Accidents

When a major oil tanker accident happens, we usually see it on the news. It’s become a familiar sight: oils slicks spreading across the water, and groups of volunteers in protective suits diligently cleaning beaches. What doesn’t make the news are the common oil tanker accidents that may not have the economic or environmental consequences of major spills, but that still affect the lives of marine professionals and their families.

Every day, Texas seamen and dockworkers face the danger of explosions, contamination, and crushing when large ships unload their dangerous cargo. Accidents are a common occurrence in the Houston area. Fortunately, federal law gives injured sailors and their families the right to recover damages after accidents that result from negligence. If you or a loved one has incurred injuries in such an incident, call a Houston maritime accident attorney from The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at (281) 283-8500, or reach out online to schedule a free consultation of your case.

Gas Exposure Injures More Sailors than Collisions and Sinking

Although they tend to be highly-reported accidents in the media, collisions and sinkings do not frequently occur on oil tankers. These accidents are getting rarer, as communication and navigation equipment continues to advance. Nonetheless, there are some noteworthy incidents that happened despite all the modern precautions.

In 2013, for example, a tanker collided with the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The damage was minor, and no one was injured, but the accident caused concern, because the vessel was being brought to port by an experienced pilot with specialized knowledge of the bay. This means that more accidents like this could happen again – possibly with more damaging consequences.

The most significant risk when working around oil is invisible. Crude oil contains toxic gases such as benzene, hydrogen sulfide, and other hydrocarbons. This is the most frequent danger to sailors on takers, and it’s a difficult risk to mitigate. The oil is stored in confined spaces where these gases can build up over the course of a long voyage. One misstep and a crewmember can breathe in the gases, which can cause nausea, dizziness, and organ damage.

Crude oil itself is a dangerous substance. In addition to the danger from gases, sailors are often injured after coming into contact with the oil, which causes rashes and swelling. If your eyes get exposed, you can expect serious irritation requiring immediate medical attention. In rare cases, sailors accidentally ingest oil, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. If a sailor is in contact with oil or its gasses for an extended period, severe damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys is possible.

Fire and Explosions Cause Fewer Injuries than Routine Accidents

When we think of tanker accidents, we often picture the images that make the news, such as raging fires and billowing smoke. Oil is a flammable substance, and anyone who works around it faces the risk of fires and explosions. It is important to note, however, shipping companies and ports go to great lengths to mitigate this risk, and are generally successful. For this reason, injuries from fires and explosions on oil tankers are not as common as you would think.

What most people don’t realize is that the most common types of accidents on tankers are the same as on other vessels:

  • Crush injuries caused by heavy machinery
  • Broken bones and amputations caused by lines
  • Failures of safety equipment
  • Back injuries from lifting
  • Slip and falls because of slick surfaces
  • Blunt trauma from falling objects on or below deck

When an injury occurs, it is often the result of negligence. In these cases, your Houston maritime lawyer may be able to recover compensation for you and your family. Negligence can exist under many different circumstances, such as when:

  • The crew of a vessel is not properly trained
  • The ship is poorly maintained
  • Safety equipment is lacking or defective
  • Hazards are not properly marked
  • The officers commit a navigational error

Have You Been Injured in an Oil Tanker Accident? Call Us Today for Help

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our goal is to thoroughly review every case that comes through our doors to determine if negligence contributed to a client’s injuries. With our knowledge of the industry, experience with maritime law, and passion for advocacy, we will fight to bring your case to a successful resolution. If you are suffering from the effects of an oil tanker accident, let our maritime attorneys help you. Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 for your free consultation.