Working on a tug or barge can be a dangerous occupation. If you were injured on the job, we can help you seek just compensation. Contact the Willis Law Firm to speak with a barge accidents attorney today.
Licensed in Texas and New York, barge accident attorney David Willis brings more than 40 years’ experience to representing injured barge workers nationwide. If you were injured while working on a tugboat or barge, the Jones Act and other maritime laws may protect you, and you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical expenses, your inability to work, and your other losses. David Willis can help you protect your rights, and he can help you seek maximum compensation for your barge injury. To learn more, schedule a free initial consultation at the Willis Law Firm today.
Common Risks for Barge Workers
There are numerous issues that can lead to dangerous accidents for tug and barge workers on rivers and on open waters. Some of the most common risks, many of which barge workers face on a daily basis, include:
- Overworked and/or unsupervised crew members – When crew members are forced to work long hours without adequate supervision, simple mistakes can lead to serious injuries.
- Lack of proper lighting – Adequate lighting is critical to ensure that workers can perform their job duties safely and can walk safely down stairwells and walkways.
- Rough waters and hazardous weather conditions – In unfavorable conditions, even routine tasks on a barge can present severe risks for accidents and injuries.
- Slippery conditions on decks, stairs and ladders – Slip-and-fall accidents are among the most-common causes of job-related injuries for barge workers, and they often lead to disabling injuries.
- Debris on decks and platforms – Debris on decks and platforms can create trip hazards and interfere with the safe operation of equipment onboard.
- Improper and/or malfunctioning equipment – Lack of access to appropriate, working equipment can put operators and other crew members at risk unnecessarily.
- Negligent or dangerous operation of the crane – Negligent crane operation, whether due to inexperience or recklessness, can put entire barge crews at risk for injuries.
- Lack of appropriate warning signs – Warning signs are often necessary to help barge workers avoid injuries from falls, misuse of equipment, and other onboard risks.
- Reckless and negligent actions of crew members and officers – Along with negligent crane operation, other reckless and negligent actions can lead to a wide range of accidents and injuries as well.
- Improperly trained and/or inexperienced crew members – One crew member’s lack of training or experience can put everyone onboard at risk for avoidable accidents.
What Are Some Common Injuries Sustained in Barge Accidents?
The maritime industry, which includes barge workers, is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. Unfortunately, many barge accidents occur each year causing workers to sustain serious injuries. Barges experience accidents for a variety of reasons, as noted above, such as operator error, poor ventilation, failure to follow safety protocols, mechanical breakdowns, and defective equipment, among other reasons, causing injuries to maritime workers. Some examples of common injuries sustained by employees working aboard barges include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Brain damage
- Diseases (such as cancer)
Regarding diseases, barges, unfortunately, expose workers to dangerous chemicals because of the nature of the cargo that they transport. Some barges carry toxic chemicals in their holding tanks, such as benzene, xylene, toluene, gasoline, and jet fuel, among other toxic chemicals. Exposures to these chemicals (including dermal and vapor) can cause barge workers to become very sick with cancers such as leukemia, AML leukemia, and blood cancers, among other types of cancers. A barge accident law firm may be able to help you pursue a claim for these illnesses, as well.
Our Barge Accidents Attorney Outlines Your Rights
If you have been injured on the job, it is important to know your rights. Under maritime law, your rights as an injured barge worker include the following:
1. You Have the Right to See Your Own Doctor
If you were injured on a tug or barge, do not let anyone tell you that you may only see your company’s doctor. You have the right to independent medical advice, and it is critical that you seek diagnosis and treatment from a physician who does not get paid by your employer. Your company’s doctor will likely prescribe only the minimum treatment necessary to get you back to work as soon as possible, even if a different course of treatment would be better for your long-term health and wellbeing.
2. You Have the Right to Medical Privacy
Another issue with seeing your company’s doctor is that your medical records and your statements during your examination could potentially end up being shared with your employer. However, being hurt at work does not impact your right to privacy, and you do not have to share your medical records with anyone or let any third parties be present for your examination.
3. You Have the Right Not to Work While You are Injured
If your doctor advises you to rest during your recovery, you cannot be forced to work while you are injured. Your claim for compensation can include benefits for the entire time that you are unable to work due to your injuries; and, if you suffer permanent effects from your barge accident, you can seek long-term benefits as well.
4. You Have the Right to Recover Just Compensation
After getting hurt at work, you are entitled to “just” compensation. This means that you are entitled to the full compensation provided for under the law. Depending upon the cause and extent of your injuries, this could mean maintenance and cure benefits under the Jones Act, or it could mean full financial compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future loss of income
- Pain, suffering, and other non-financial losses
5. You Have the Right to the Information You Need to Pursue Your Claim
When you need to seek financial compensation for an on-the-job injury, you are entitled to the information you need in order to pursue your claim. Through an investigation and the legal process known as “discovery,” your attorney will be able to collect information such as witness statements, safety records, personnel records and corrective measures taken after the accident.
6. You Have the Right Not to Worry about Retaliation
For many maritime workers, one of their biggest fears about filing a workers compensation claim is the fear of retaliation. However, under federal law, employers are subject to strict prohibitions on retaliating against their employees. The law entitles you to seek just compensation, and your employer cannot take action against you for asserting your legal rights. If your employer attempts to retaliate (for example, by firing you, demoting you or reducing your pay), there are legal remedies for this as well.
7. You Have the Right to Experienced Barge Accidents Lawyer
Finally, you have the right to experienced legal representation. Most personal injury law firms – including ours – handle cases on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that there are no out-of-pocket costs, and you pay nothing unless you win just compensation. Since you only pay if you win, you have every reason to choose the most-experienced and most-highly-recommended attorney for your case.
Spud Barge Accidents
Spud barges, or jack up barges, are used for a wide range of purposes in offshore, inland and coastal construction jobs. These vessels provide a stable work platform that can accommodate cranes and other heavy equipment needed to support marine construction operations. Maritime workers on spud barges are involved in many activities ranging from dredging, pile driving and pipeline hookups to heavy equipment lifting and the construction of bridges and piers.
Working on a spud barge or jack-up barge can be a very hazardous job. Accidents and injuries occur every day on these types of vessels due to a wide variety of dangerous conditions, including:
- Overworked and/or unsupervised crew members
- Lack of proper lighting
- Rough waters and hazardous weather conditions
- Slippery conditions on decks, stairs and ladders
- Debris on decks and platforms
- Improper and/or malfunctioning equipment
- Negligent or dangerous operation of the crane
- Lack of appropriate warning signs
- Reckless and negligent actions of crew members and officers
- Improperly trained and/or inexperienced crew members
Requirements to Pursue a Barge Injury Claim
Here are five key steps involved in recovering just compensation for a barge accident injury:
1. Report the Accident to Your Employer
Generally speaking, you should report any job-related injuries to your employer as soon as possible. If you fill out a report, take your time to accurately describe what happened, and do not let your employer force you to change your version of the events.
2. File Your Claim Within the Statute of Limitations
All maritime injury claims are subject to “statutes of limitations.” These are laws that limit the amount of time you have to file a claim; and, if you wait too long, you could lose your legal rights entirely. Different laws have different limitations periods, so you should be sure to seek advice from a barge accident attorney as soon as possible.
3. Secure Key Evidence to Support Your Claim
If possible, you should try to collect some evidence before you leave the tug or barge. For example, you should take photos of the accident scene with your phone, and you should record the names of any crew members who saw what happened. You should also ask for a copy of your accident report, and you should keep any personal items (such as your clothes) that were damaged in the accident.
4. Obtain Medical Records to Prove Your Losses
Once again, you should see your own doctor as soon as possible. Not only is this critical to minimizing your recovery time, but your medical records will also serve as crucial evidence in your claim for compensation. To avoid any suggestion that you waited too long to seek treatment or that your injuries resulted from other factors, you should seek medical treatment as soon as you get back to land.
5. Calculate Your Current and Future Financial and Non-Financial Harm
Most maritime injury cases settle. But, to ensure that you settle for just compensation, you need to know the full extent of your financial and non-financial harm. This includes both current and future losses. The only way to calculate these losses is by working closely with an experienced barge injury attorney.
Choosing a Barge Accidents Attorney
So, you are ready to discuss your case with a lawyer. How do you choose the right barge accidents lawyer to handle your case?
- Board Certification – Board certification signifies that an attorney has proven skills and an established track record of success.
- Decades of Experience – Decades of experience demonstrate a commitment to helping injured workers and thorough knowledge of maritime law.
- Results Against the Major Offshore Companies – Results against the major offshore companies show that the barge accidents law firm has the ability to take the tough cases and win.
- Commitment to Client Satisfaction – A commitment to client satisfaction means that your needs come first and your attorney will handle your case with your best interests in mind.
- Client Recommendations – Client recommendations show that the attorney provides the level of service injured workers expect and deserve.
“When my husband got seriously injured we interviewed lots of trial lawyers until we met Mr. Willis. Instantly we knew he was the one. He didn’t let us down. His tenacity and fight changed our lives.” – Satisfied Client
“After I got seriously injured I felt lost and helpless. My father suggested I call Attorney Willis to help. His legal staff was amazing. Extremely patient and always called back when they promised. They were always available for me and helped push my case along fairly quickly. I highly recommend them to anyone I know.” – Satisfied Client
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Barge Accidents Attorney?
With the Willis Law Firm, it costs you nothing out-of-pocket to put three decades of legal experience on your side. Your initial consultation with our barge accidents law firm is complimentary; and, if you choose not to move forward with your case, that’s fine. If you hire our firm to represent you, we will not charge you anything unless we are successful in helping you recover just compensation.
Contact Our Barge Accidents Law Firm for a Free Consultation
For more information about what to do after suffering traumatic injuries in a barge accident, please schedule a free consultation at the Willis Law Firm. We are available at 1-800-GOT-HURT, or you can tell us about the accident online and we will be in touch as soon as possible. Let our barge accidents attorneys use our experience to fight for the compensation you deserve.