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Types of Maritime Collisions And Their Causes

Among the most catastrophic accidents that can occur at sea is a collision of two ships. We’ve seen it in the news time and again, and the results are often tragic.

The maritime attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers have spent decades working with seamen and offshore workers, as well as their families, after these traumatic events. The circumstances that lead to these accidents vary widely, but there are several different types of maritime collisions that commonly occur.

  • Side collision: This is when one vessel is struck on its side by another vessel. It is essentially the same principal as a T-bone type car accident.
  • Bow-on collision: This occurs when two vessels strike each from their front ends, or head on.
  • Stern collisions: This type of collision is one vessel running into the rear of another.
  • Allision: This collision involves one vessel striking a stationary object, such as a bridge, seawall, etc.

Any of these accidents can quickly turn fatal for crewmembers or passengers of the vessels involved. The International Maritime Organization has specific rules that govern waterway navigations to avoid collisions, but unfortunately they do still happen more often than you think.

Our attorneys have helped many clients injured in maritime collisions, including a tankerman who was injured when the river tug he worked on was struck from behind by another vessel. He suffered back injuries in the stern collision. Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. attorney Matthew Shaffer recovered $300,000 on his behalf.

Common Causes of Maritime Collisions

Our maritime attorneys note several common causes for maritime collisions. These include:

  • Human error: Carelessness or simply errors on the part of crewmembers can quickly lead to collisions at sea. Also, confusion stemming from differences in maritime traffic schemes across different regions, akin to driving on the wrong side of the road while visiting another country. Human error is the most common cause of maritime collisions.
  • Weather: Next to human error, weather conditions have the biggest impact on maritime accidents. Fog obstructing vision, high winds exerting force on vessels, ice flows colliding with vessels all fall under this category. In many cases, weather is only a contributing factor in a collision. After a thorough investigation of a weather-related collision, it’s often discovered that negligence also played a significant role in the accident.
  • Equipment failure: When an engine fails, maneuvering capabilities are lost, or other equipment essential to the operation of the ship malfunctions.
  • Infrastructure problems: If something on land is out of position, such as a draw bridge dropping prematurely, it can cause collisions. This is the rarest cause of maritime accidents, but it does occur.

If you or a loved one was injured in a maritime collision, the experienced maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris can help recover compensation. Schedule a free consultation today.

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