Barge Accidents

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Despite the trends in advancing technologies, some inventions remain essential foundations of industry. Barges, in particular, continue to defy the test of time. Used since ancient times, these flat-bottomed transport boats are commonly seen carrying bulk freight or passengers across waterways.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there are approximately 3,200 cargo and passenger facilities in the U.S. There are an estimated 23.1 million job opportunities for Americans to work on barges, towboats, oil drilling platforms and railways. The downside is that there are also many chances one of these workers will suffer from a barge accident while on the job.

Barge workers who are injured should seek legal representation from an attorney familiar with maritime law.

Barge Accidents in Houston

Houston, TX is no stranger to barge accidents. In July 2015, two barges collided and caught fire in the Bolivar side of the Ship Channel after one of the tugboats lost power. Barge workers are exposed to many potential dangers, from their job functions as well as the products they carry. Broken bones, fractured skull, ravaging illnesses and even wrongful death can occur in the line of duty.

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If you are a barge worker injured or ill on the job, it’s important to know what laws will cover your medical expenses and lost wages. The Jones Act, FELA and Longshoremen Act are forms of U.S. admiralty law that may or may not apply to you.  Contacting an attorney with extensive knowledge of maritime law is the best way to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injury. Pierce | Skrabanek understands the complexity of these laws and has a proven track record of successful verdicts for maritime employees.

Types of Barge Accidents

Maritime work has and always will be a potentially dangerous occupation. The following comprises some of the more serious barge accidents.

  • Crane accidents can occur when a heavy item is unintentionally dropped from the crane onto a worker. Cranes also run the risk of collapsing if the weight is more than the structure can bear. These accidents are most likely to occur due to improper training and supervision. Always remember to wear a hard hat, as this can prevent severe damage from a blow to the head.
  • Bow thrusters are used to maneuver barges in the water. Proper training and abiding by safety precautions are the best way to avoid severe lacerations or loss of limb.
  • Tow wire and bridle line errors are often responsible for limb amputation and can be fatal. The body can easily be crushed by the force of these instruments.
  • Pinch point collisions are responsible for some of the most painful and debilitating injuries barge workers face. Like being caught between a rock and a hard place, pinch point injuries occur when any part of the body is caught between two objects. They are often the result of improper training and taking short-cuts to try to finish work quickly. Unfortunately, trying to bypass procedures can result in a permanent disability or death.

Other common barge accidents include:

  • Unsafe ladder mishaps
  • Slip-and-falls
  • Accidents due to understaffing
  • Man overboard
  • Concussion
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Equipment-related malfunctions

Barge Accidents and The Jones Act

Along the lines of traditional workers’ compensation laws, the Jones Act was created to provide for those who work at sea and port when they are injured on the job. Generally speaking, fault is not an issue. You may still be eligible for compensation if the injury was your fault, providing it wasn’t some egregious circumstance, like coming to work intoxicated.

Maritime law mandates that seamen who are injured on the job receive what’s called “maintenance and cure.” This provision covers living and medical expenses until the sailor or crewman is fit for work.

But what if your injury is long-term, or permanent? What if it affects your ability to work years down the road? And what if your employer bears fault for what happened due to improper training or an unsafe workplace? Federal maritime law requires ship owners to maintain a seaworthy vessel.

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Seeking Compensation

When you are injured on the job, your need to seek immediate medical attention. Then report to your employer, and share any and all medical information pertaining to your injury or illness. If you feel the injury was caused by the negligence of your employer, your next step may be to contact an attorney accustomed to trying Jones Act cases.

Compensation is not automatic. Compensation is awarded on a case-by-case basis. To have the best odds, you want to have detailed documentation of what happened and the medical attention that followed. You will want to demonstrate the impact the accident has had on your life. Your attorney can help you build a strong case.


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Why You Should Call An Attorney

Maritime law is as complex as navigating the Intracoastal Waterway. This is why enlisting the help of a lawyer familiar with maritime law serves your best interest.  Having an attorney who knows maritime law on your side is the surest way to seek full compensation for any pain and suffering you’ve endured.

Call the attorneys at Pierce | Skrabanek today. Call our toll free number at 832-690-7000. Consultation is always free and at no obligation to you. We simply want to help you get back the quality of life you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

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