Despite being slow-moving vessels, barges can be extremely dangerous for both crewmembers and longshoremen working on loading or unloading cargo. Mistakes and maintenance issues frequently lead to accidents, leaving many workers to cope with serious and often life-changing injuries. At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we are committed to helping Jones Act seamen, longshoremen and other maritime workers win just compensation for injuries sustained in barge accidents at the Port of Houston and throughout the Gulf region. If you have been injured in a barge accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, loss of income, chronic pain, and other losses.
Common Injuries in Barge Accidents
Whether navigating in open water or moored at a floating dock for loading or unloading, barges present a number of risks for serious injuries. While barges themselves can be dangerous workplaces, loose cargo, cranes, heavy equipment, and other potential hazards increase the risk of barge-related accidents. When you factor in inexperienced or negligent maritime workers, lack of safety protocols, and poor maintenance of barges and equipment, it is easy to see why barge accidents are not only all too common but also regularly to blame for serious maritime injuries. Some of the most common causes of barge accident injuries include:
- Being pinned between a barge and a dock
- Crane accidents (including malfunctions and operator errors)
- Crushing injuries from falling or shifting cargo
- Heavy machinery and equipment accidents
- Injuries caused by “unseaworthy” barges
- Injuries from slips and falls
- Near-drowning injuries
Who Is Responsible for Barge Accident Injuries?
When seeking just compensation for barge accident injuries, the first step is to determine who (or what company) is responsible for the accident. This requires a thorough investigation, and it may actually be that there are multiple parties that are to blame. When our attorneys represent barge accident victims, we focus on identifying all responsible parties so that we can seek maximum compensation for our clients’ losses. Depending on what caused the accident, the parties that may be responsible for your barge accident injuries include:
- Your Employer. Under the Jones Act, negligent employers can be held fully responsible for seamen’s injuries. Under the Longshore Act, employers must often provide “no-fault” compensation to longshoremen and harbor workers who get hurt on the job.
- The Barge Owner. If you were injured on a barge that was unseaworthy, the barge owner may be liable for your injury-related losses.
- The Port Operator. Port operators can also be held financially liable for certain barge accidents caused by cranes and other land-based equipment.
- Other Maritime Companies and Third Parties. Finally, depending on the cause of the accident, any of a wide range of other companies could be responsible as well. This includes shipping companies, owners of other vessels, and equipment manufacturers.