Some accidents have resulted in useful and practical inventions and others have advanced the food industry, but other mistakes have lead to inventions that are just really cool, even though they are not very useful at all. A great example is the invention of fireworks. As the legend goes, about 2,000 years ago in China, a cook accidentally mixed charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter together. These were all normal kitchen items at the time, but together they formed a mixture that burned and even exploded when compressed. This kicked off the development of fireworks, which became a huge element of Chinese culture to this day. Fireworks are now widely used in America for many holiday, including the fourth of July.
And then there are those inventions in which the inventor is killed by his/her invention. Take for instance Horace Lawson Hunley, a US Confederate marine engineer and inventor of the first combat submarine, named of course after the inventor, the CSS Hunley. During routine exercises the submarine had already sunk twice. This did not stop Lawson Hunley from commanding the vessel himself. Unfortunately the submarine failed to resurface drowning not only Lawson Hunley, but also seven other crew members in 1863.
If this submarine accident occurred today, as a US flagged vessel, the families or relatives of the drowned seamen would be advised to seek maritime injury lawyers so the rights of the deceased are protected and the survivors receive the compensation they deserve. At the time of the submarine accident, the Jones Act the body of law that defines the legal rights of sailors who are injured and the surviving family members of seamen who are killed while working on board a floating vessel was not yet enacted.
In fact it was the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, that increased public awareness of the many dangers at sea. Interestingly, the naval architect in charge of the plans for the ocean liner RMS Titanic, Thomas Andrews was traveling on board the Titanic during its maiden voyage. He was one of the 1,507 people who perished in the disaster. However, since he was a passenger, maritime lawyers would not be the type of attorneys to hire if there were to be a lawsuit. None the less, such historical maritime disasters encouraged Congress to provide sailors with more rights. In 1920, the US Congress responded to the events and enacted the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which later became the Jones Act. It applies only to US flagged ships.