When you are on board a cruise out of Miami, miles from shore and surrounded by nothing but water, you might think that fire is the least of your concerns. Therefore, it is shocking to learn how frequently these accidents occur and the ways cruise lines try to minimize their own negligence. According to a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report on operational accidents, there were 27 fires or explosions over the 10-year study period. These incidents are preventable, yet they put thousands of passengers and crew at risk of serious injuries.
The causes of cruise ship fires vary, and operators have a duty to protect those onboard. They also have a legal obligation to mount an appropriate response, but cruise lines tend to react in ways that advance their own financial interests. You do have rights if you or a member of your group was injured in a fire or explosion, so consult with a Miami cruise ship accident lawyer about legal options. An overview is also informative.
Common Causes Behind Cruise Ship Fires and Explosions
The CLIA report lists the reasons for many of the incidents that occurred on cruise ships from 2009 to 2019, including:
- Fire in the engine room, which contains the diesel generators, pumps and heat exchangers, boilers, and compressors;
- Explosions and fires from welding equipment, which happen while crews are undertaking repairs;
- Generator fires;
- Fires and explosions in the cruise ship smokestack;
- Explosions while cleaning tanks; and,
- Fires resulting from faulty switchboards, i.e., the components of the ship’s electrical distribution system.
Though the causes may vary, they share a common element: These fire and explosion accidents happen because the cruise operator failed to exercise reasonable care to protect passengers.
Types of Fire-Related Injuries
Burns are the biggest threat when victims are exposed to the flames and heat of a cruise ship fire. They range from a minor first-degree burn that is similar to a sunburn to severe third-degree burns, which singe layers of skin and may cause damage to muscle and tissue underneath. However, there are additional ways that people can be hurt in a fire or explosion accident:
- There is chaos and confusion when a fire erupts, leading passengers to flee the area. Some may even panic. Victims may be hurt while trying to get away.
- Smoke inhalation can cause serious respiratory conditions, and some explosions may involve hazardous chemicals.
- When fires cause loss of power, passengers could be injured as they navigate the ship in the dark.
Unfortunately, instead of stabilizing the situation and getting passengers to safety, many cruise lines will still try to complete the voyage. The motivation is financial, considering the cost of transporting passengers back home and refunding fares.
Consult With Our Miami Cruise Ship Accidents Attorneys for Free
If you were hurt because of a fire or other accident onboard a cruise ship, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA, to speak to a skilled lawyer. We can schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.