Injured on a Tugboat? Find Out Who May Be Responsible

Tugboat Injuries Jun 5, 2017

After any type of accident, identifying the party (or parties) responsible is one of the first steps toward pursuing a claim for financial compensation. With medical bills piling up and the potential for significant lost income, job-related injuries can often put maritime workers’ financial futures on the line. As a result, fighting for just compensation needs to be a top priority, and it is critical to promptly conduct a thorough investigation focused on determining who deserves to be held accountable.

1. Your Employer

The first option is your employer. Under the Jones Act, if you were injured onboard a tugboat or barge, in most cases your employer will be obligated to pay you no-fault benefits known as “maintenance and cure.” Since these are no-fault benefits, your employer must pay regardless of the cause of your injury.

In addition to maintenance and cure benefits (which in some cases can be less than $25 per day), the Jones Act also entitles you to seek full compensation for your injuries if the accident resulted from your employer’s negligence. The Jones Act applies a standard of “slight” negligence, which means that your employer can be held accountable if it made any mistake that played any role in causing your injuries.

2. The Tugboat’s Owner

If your employer does not own the tugboat or barge on which you were injured, you may be able to seek compensation from the tugboat’s owner as well. Claims against vessel owners are not made under the Jones Act, but rather under the law of unseaworthiness. If your injury resulted from an unseaworthy condition, the tugboat’s owner may be liable for your:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost income
  • Travel, mileage and other related expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Other financial and non-financial harm

3. Third Parties

The third option for seeking compensation after a tugboat accident is to identify any third parties that may have caused or contributed to your injuries. These third parties could be liable for maritime negligence (such as causing a collision with your tugboat or barge or failing to adequately maintain a vessel being towed), or for supplying defective products. Under a body of law known as “products liability,” companies that design, manufacture and sell defective tools, parts, supplies, machinery, equipment and other products can be held fully liable for defect-related injuries without the need to prove negligence.

In any event, in order to secure just compensation, you will need to act quickly and avoid common mistakes that could jeopardize your legal rights. To protect yourself, you should speak with a qualified maritime attorney.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Tugboat Injury Lawyer David Willis

Licensed in Texas and New York, David Willis is a maritime attorney with more than three decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured seamen. If you were injured on a barge or tugboat, Mr. Willis can help you fight to win the compensation you deserve. To get started with a free, confidential consultation, please call 1-800-GOT HURT or request an appointment online today.

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