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Tugboat and Barge Accidents

Alexandria Maritime Injury Attorney

Tugboats and barges are essentially maritime “tow vehicles.” Barges are flat-bottomed cargo vessels designed to carry freight on inland waterways, though for movement they typically require the assistance of a tugboat, which tows them towards their destination. Due to the complex mechanical connection between tugboats and barges, there are many unique injury risks associated with their operation.

If you’ve been injured while working aboard (or in-and-around) a tugboat or barge, then you could be entitled to significant compensation under the Jones Act. Depending on the circumstances, you might also be entitled to bring a claim against a third party that contributed to your injuries. The Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC can help you secure the damages that you’re reasonably owed. Contact us today for guidance.

Common Causes of Vessel and Crew Member Accidents

According to a report conducted by the Coast Guard, which analyzed data collected between 2006 and 2014, there were over 1,303 crew member injuries owed to tugboat and barge accidents during that eight year span.

Common vessel incidents included:

  • Allision
  • Collision
  • Material failure
  • Grounding
  • Maneuverability
  • Flooding
  • Sinking
  • Fire
  • Set adrift
  • Capsizing
  • And more

Common crew member incidents included:

  • Fall onto surface
  • Falling overboard
  • Strain/sprain
  • Struck by moving object
  • Line mishandling
  • Collision with fixed object
  • Crushed between objects
  • Chemical exposure
  • And more

Though crew members may be exposed to similar risks of harm as those working on other types of vessels (i.e., falling overboard risks, fire-related risks), crew members aboard tugboats and barges are uniquely impacted by the “tow vessel” dynamic.

Towing another vessel can lead to a loss of maneuverability, and in poor weather conditions or particularly trafficked waters, this can increase the risk of a collision or allision accident quite substantially. Further, the lines necessary for the tow winch may be inadequately maintained, or crew members may negligently fail to setup the tow properly.

If any of these failures give rise to an injury, then the employer may be held liable. It’s worth noting that, thanks to the application of vicarious liability principles, maritime employers can be held liable for the negligence of their crew member employees. For example, if you are injured due to a co-worker’s negligent failure to properly connect the tow winch, then you would have a right of action against your employer for damages.

Contact an Experienced Alexandria Maritime Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

At the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC, we have experience  handling a range of personal injury claims, including maritime injury claims that involve tugboat and barge vessels.

Having spent a career  navigating challenging disputes as both a prosecutor and as a plaintiff’s-side attorney, Walter Gabriel is well-equipped to represent your interests in litigation against maritime entities that may take a more hostile stance towards your claims with significant resources at their disposal.

Ready to speak to an Alexandria maritime injury attorney about your dispute? Call 318-445-2121 or send us a message through our Contact Us  page to connect with the Law Firm of Walter Gabriel, LLC today. Consultation is free and confidential.