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Tugboat and Barge Accidents

Tugboat and Barge Accidents

Tugboat and Barge Accidents

Tugboat workers serve a vital role on the waters. They transport products, guide ships to and from busy ports, support construction projects, and also provide protection from oil spills. However, they have a dangerous job and their service often comes at a high price when working with unsafe vessel conditions.

Common Causes

Tugboats and barges are hazardous places to work. These vessels, which offer plenty of stability, are designed for maximum fuel capacity and power. Crewmembers face countless hazards, such as tripping, falling, and line handling. The potential danger increases when a tug’s horsepower is combined with the barge’s weight.

Tugboat and barge accidents and injuries are commonly caused by:

  • Falling ladders
  • Falling overboard
  • Handling heavy lines and shackles
  • Parting tow lines
  • Slippery decks
  • Unspooling or malfunction of winches
  • Falling objects
  • Faulty equipment
  • Understaffed vessels
  • Crew negligence
  • Toxic fumes
  • Violation of safety policies
  • Poor weather conditions

Common Injuries

Some of the common injury types on tugs and barges include:

  • Amputations
  • Sprains, strains, and herniated discs
  • Pinch-point and various other line-handling injuries
  • Fractures
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Brain injuries

Claiming Compensation

As a crewmember, the boat owner or your employer owes you a duty to provide you with a reasonably safe place to work. Numerous tugboat and barge accidents can be prevented by proper inspection and maintenance, hiring a competent crew, properly training the crew, as well as implementing and enforcing safety procedures. The vessel owner must, under general maritime law, provide you with a seaworthy vessel to work on. Unfortunately, it is not surprising that some boat owners opt to take shortcuts in order to save time and money.

State workers’ compensation laws do not govern compensation for tugboat and barge injuries on navigable waters. Instead, it is federal maritime law that provides crewmen injured on tugs, barges, and tow boats with special protection.

Whether you are a captain, mate, deckhand, cook, engineer, or pilot, the Jones Act protects you under federal maritime law. If negligence on the part of an owner, employer, or co-worker contributes to the cause of your accident, the Jones Act gives you the right to sue your employer and recover compensation for your sustained injuries.

Seeking Legal Representation

Tugboat and barge accidents are complex matters. If you or a loved one are injured in a tug, barge or tow boat accident, consult with a qualified legal professional as soon as possible. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney understands how injuries happen aboard ship and how your injuries will affect your ability to earn a living, and will ensure that you receive all the damages available to you. These damages include no fault maintenance and cure, unearned wages, medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages under the Jones Act.

If you or your loved one has suffered serious injury in a tugboat or barge accident, call Corpus Christi Tx maritime lawyer Sheadyn R Rogers of Rogers Law Firm at (361) 356-6057 or fill out the law firm's online consultation request form for a free consultation concerning your case.


Rogers Law Firm serves the following areas: Aransas County, Bee County, Brooks County, Duval County, Jim Wells County, Kenedy County, Kleberg County, Live Oak County, Nueces County, Refugio County, San Patricio County & the Corpus Christi TX Metroplex.



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