While serving a vital role within the shipping industry, tugboat workers are exposed to dangerous working conditions on a daily basis that often lead to them suffering serious injuries. This includes not only tugboat captains, engineers, dockhands, and other workers onboard tugboats, but seamen onboard barges and other towed vessels, and even longshoremen and harbor workers on dry land.
Our Houston tugboat accident lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP are committed to helping maritime workers collect just compensation for their job-related injuries. We represent victims of tugboat accidents in the Houston Ship Channel, the Gulf of Mexico, the Panama Canal and in other navigable waters around the United States. If you or a loved one has been injured in a tugboat accident, contact our maritime accident attorneys for a free consultation today.
Common Causes of Tugboat Accidents and Injuries
Whether in the confines of a canal lock or on the open water, tugboat accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. The following are all common causes of tugboat accidents that can entitle injured workers to seek just compensation for their injury damages:
- Accidents involving heavy lines or shackles;
- Captain or crewmember negligence;
- Collisions with docks, canal locks, and other vessels;
- Falling overboard;
- Falling from heights;
- Fires and explosions;
- Inadequate crew numbers;
- Inexperienced crew members;
- Parting of tow lines;
- Slippery decks; and
- Towing winch and other equipment failures.
Understanding Your Rights After a Tugboat Accident
After a tugboat accident, it is important that you speak with an experienced maritime accident lawyer as soon as possible. There are special federal laws that protect maritime workers, but you need to act quickly in order to preserve your claim for maximum financial compensation.
The Jones Act – The Jones Act applies to seamen onboard vessels in navigation. Under the Jones Act, maritime workers injured onboard tugboats or other vessels can seek “maintenance and cure” benefits as well as full compensation for any injuries resulting from their employers’ negligence.
The Longshore Act – The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Longshore Act”) covers most maritime workers who do not qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act. It provides for “no-fault” benefits while also entitling injured workers to seek full compensation from any negligent third parties.
Maritime Law – Regardless of whether you are protected under the Jones Act or the Longshore Act, you may also have a claim under general U.S. maritime law. If your injury is the result of an “unseaworthy” condition, the tugboat’s owner may be fully liable for your medical bills and other injury-related losses.