Safety and Health Reporter

Boat Fires

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Boat Fires

Brien Roche

On September 2, 2019 a recreational dive boat caught fire, killing 34 people on board.  The fire occurred over the Labor Day weekend.  The boat was the Concepcion.  It was a 75 foot dive boat.  The boat was anchored off the north coast of Santa Cruz Island, 25 miles off the California coast.  The NTSB investigation suggests that the fire began where people were charging their cell phones.  This was in a common salon area of the boat.  This was one level above the sleeping area where 33 passengers were asleep at the time of the fire.

Prior to this fire there had been another fire on a boat owned by the same company.  However that boat was the Vision.  That fire was quickly put out because it was detected early.

On the Concepcion there were no smoke detectors in the salon area.  However there were smoke detectors in the sleeping area.

The crew failed to follow basic instructions to have an overnight roving patrol on-duty.  Probably if such a person had been on duty, the fire would have been noticed and been put out before it caused any problems.

Boat Fires-Passenger Training

Likewise the passengers were not given a required briefing on safety procedures.

The sleeping compartment consisted of three different decks where bunks were laid out.  A sleeping crewmember on the top deck right below where the fire was, noticed a glow coming from the deck above.  When he went to investigate, he found the fire blocking his way upward.

Noteworthy that several crewmembers abandoned the boat in a skiff.  They were able to reach safety.

Boat Fires and Applicable Law

Boating accident cases may be controlled by maritime law.  This depends on where the event takes place.  It also depends on the facts of the event.

A boating accident can result in severe injuries. They involve personal watercraft and wave runners. They may involve other types of small vessels. I have been a boater most of my life. I have owned both sailboats and motorboats.

In handling these types of claims you must know the administrative regulations as well as U. S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules.

Key Questions in Boat Fires

    • Does admiralty jurisdiction apply?  This depends on many things. Is the waterway a highway for interstate commerce? Did the event pose a potential hazard to maritime commerce? Did it arise out of activity that bears a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity? If the answers are Yes then maritime jurisdiction may apply.  Such a case can be brought in federal court.
    • To what extent does state law apply?  State law may supplement maritime law. For this to be the case state law must not conflict with maritime. In addition it must not interfere with the uniform working of the maritime legal system

Other Legal Issues

  • Should the case be filed in federal or state court?  If filed in federal court and maritime jurisdiction controls, then there may be no right to a jury trial.
  • Is the plaintiff potentially a seaman under the Jones Act?  If so, then that plaintiff may have special rights.
  • If the case involves a wrongful death which occurred more than three nautical miles offshore, then it may be governed by the Death on the High Seas Act.  On the other hand, dependents of non-seamen killed in state territorial waters may bring a wrongful death action that is governed by state law.
  • Does the Limitation of Vessel Owner’s Liability Act apply?  If so, then there may be special limitations on the amount of recovery.
  • Was the operator of the boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Did the operator act in compliance with the Virginia Administrative Code dealing with the safe operation of boats?

If you have been involved in a boat fire or boating accident contact us. We have experience serving the watercraft accident needs of our Fairfax, Va. and Washington D.C. clients.

Also see boats on this site for a review of Virginia case law.  Also see the page on Wikipedia for information on boats.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Boat Fires

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Boat Fires

Brien Roche

On September 2, 2019 a recreational dive boat caught fire, killing 34 people on board.  The fire occurred over the Labor Day weekend.  The boat was the Concepcion.  It was a 75 foot dive boat.  The boat was anchored off the north coast of Santa Cruz Island, 25 miles off the California coast.  The NTSB investigation suggests that the fire began where people were charging their cell phones.  This was in a common salon area of the boat.  This was one level above the sleeping area where 33 passengers were asleep at the time of the fire.

Prior to this fire there had been another fire on a boat owned by the same company.  However that boat was the Vision.  That fire was quickly put out because it was detected early.

On the Concepcion there were no smoke detectors in the salon area.  However there were smoke detectors in the sleeping area.

The crew failed to follow basic instructions to have an overnight roving patrol on-duty.  Probably if such a person had been on duty, the fire would have been noticed and been put out before it caused any problems.

Boat Fires-Passenger Training

Likewise the passengers were not given a required briefing on safety procedures.

The sleeping compartment consisted of three different decks where bunks were laid out.  A sleeping crewmember on the top deck right below where the fire was, noticed a glow coming from the deck above.  When he went to investigate, he found the fire blocking his way upward.

Noteworthy that several crewmembers abandoned the boat in a skiff.  They were able to reach safety.

Boat Fires and Applicable Law

Boating accident cases may be controlled by maritime law.  This depends on where the event takes place.  It also depends on the facts of the event.

A boating accident can result in severe injuries. They involve personal watercraft and wave runners. They may involve other types of small vessels. I have been a boater most of my life. I have owned both sailboats and motorboats.

In handling these types of claims you must know the administrative regulations as well as U. S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules.

Key Questions in Boat Fires

    • Does admiralty jurisdiction apply?  This depends on many things. Is the waterway a highway for interstate commerce? Did the event pose a potential hazard to maritime commerce? Did it arise out of activity that bears a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity? If the answers are Yes then maritime jurisdiction may apply.  Such a case can be brought in federal court.
    • To what extent does state law apply?  State law may supplement maritime law. For this to be the case state law must not conflict with maritime. In addition it must not interfere with the uniform working of the maritime legal system

Other Legal Issues

  • Should the case be filed in federal or state court?  If filed in federal court and maritime jurisdiction controls, then there may be no right to a jury trial.
  • Is the plaintiff potentially a seaman under the Jones Act?  If so, then that plaintiff may have special rights.
  • If the case involves a wrongful death which occurred more than three nautical miles offshore, then it may be governed by the Death on the High Seas Act.  On the other hand, dependents of non-seamen killed in state territorial waters may bring a wrongful death action that is governed by state law.
  • Does the Limitation of Vessel Owner’s Liability Act apply?  If so, then there may be special limitations on the amount of recovery.
  • Was the operator of the boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Did the operator act in compliance with the Virginia Administrative Code dealing with the safe operation of boats?

If you have been involved in a boat fire or boating accident contact us. We have experience serving the watercraft accident needs of our Fairfax, Va. and Washington D.C. clients.

Also see boats on this site for a review of Virginia case law.  Also see the page on Wikipedia for information on boats.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

    Contact Us For A Free Consultation