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7 Marines Killed in Explosion at Training Site

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By Andrew Lu on March 19, 2013 10:37 AM

Seven U.S. Marines were killed in an explosion during a training exercise. Seven others were hurt.

The explosion happened at the Hawthorne Army Depot in western Nevada, reports Reuters. The cause of the explosion, which occurred about 10 p.m. Monday, remains unclear.

Investigators are still reviewing whether the proper safety protocols were followed. Regardless, the military could potentially be liable for these death and injuries.

The Hawthorne Army Depot is an enormous 147,000-acre site that is primarily used to store and destroy ammunition. As a result, it should be expected that the military follow certain safety protocols and measures to protect personnel involved in training programs on the premises.

In a civilian setting, employers can be held liable for the injuries of their workers. Generally speaking, employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace. And even for inherently dangerous jobs, employers have to take certain steps to mitigate the risk of harm. Failure to take these steps can result in liability.

However, the military is not your normal private employer. Instead, to be able to sue the military (i.e., the federal government), a plaintiff would have to follow federal rules for bringing a claim. The laws that cover these claims can include:

  • The Federal Tort Claims Act. This law allows individuals to collect money from the federal government for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage caused by the negligence of federal employees within the scope of their employment. But there are many caveats under this law.

  • The Military Claims Act. Plaintiffs may have no private right to sue under this act, but the military may settle cases for up to $100,000. This law is generally used for overseas injury claims.

  • The Military Personnel and Civilian Employees' Claims Act. This act compensates Navy and Marine Corps military and civilians for loss, damage or destruction of personal property incident to service.

But bringing a claim against a government entity like the military can be complicated, and there are time constraints to consider as well. As a result, you will want to consult an attorney experienced in dealing with this unique area of law.

As for the deadly explosion at the Nevada depot site, investigators are currently notifying victims' relatives before releasing their names to the public, NBC News reports.

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