Arkansas Barge Accident Lawyer Explains Protecting Workers from Maritime Injuries

Arkansas offers various waterways such as the Port of Little Rock, the Port of Pine Bluff, and various river terminals for water transportation using vessels such as barges and tugboats. With a large amount of maritime traffic using these waterways in  Arkansas each year and because of the nature of the dangerous work completed by workers aboard these vessels, accidents are inevitable and can unexpectedly occur in the blink of an eye. When these accidents are caused because of the negligence of a vessel’s owner, operator, or other crew members, there are some special maritime laws that protect these maritime workers and provide them the right to seek compensation from the negligent parties with the help of an Arkansas barge accident or tugboat injury lawyer. 

At the federal level, maritime workers performing work on and off vessels near navigable waters may be covered under either the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The Jones Act and LHWCA provide compensation to various maritime workers injured while working aboard a vessel, such as a tugboat or barge, or working offshore performing such tasks as loading, unloading, or repairing a vessel.

Jones Act Protection for Arkansas Workers

If you are a seaman and have been injured on a ship or vessel you may be able to file a negligence suit against your employer under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides injured seamen with the right to recover damages against employers for injuries arising from the negligent acts of the employer or co-workers during the course of the seaman’s employment. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, in order to recover under the Jones Act, the injured seaman must prove some negligence or fault on the part of the employer or the employee’s co-workers. A negligence suit can be filed against an employer for all types of unsafe conditions, including:

  • Lack of proper equipment
  • Lack of safety devices
  • Improperly trained or unsupervised crew
  • Unsafe work procedures
  • Broken or improperly maintained equipment
  • Negligence of co-workers
  • Assaults by co-workers

The burden of proof required in a Jones Act claim is much lower than a traditional negligence claim. In an ordinary negligence case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In a Jones Act case, the employer can be held liable for the slightest degree of negligence. This means that in order to recover Jones Act damages, you only need to prove that your employer’s negligence played some part, no matter how small, in causing your injuries.

Unseaworthiness Claims Against Vessel Owners

Under General Maritime Law, injured seamen also have the right to recover damages from the vessel owner. Owners of ships and vessels have a legal duty to provide crew members with a seaworthy vessel. If the vessel or any of the equipment on the vessel is unsafe or not fit for its intended purpose, the vessel owner can be held liable for a crew member’s injuries. This means if the owner of the vessel or ship is different from your employer, you will be able to file an unseaworthiness claim against the vessel owner. Filing deadlines or statute of limitations on a claim under General Maritime Law is usually three years from the date of the incident, but due to many situations the filing deadline may be as short as one year. Therefore it is crucial that an injured seaman or non-seaman contact a maritime injury lawyer to make sure that all notice requirements and filing dates under the General Maritime Law are calculated and understood by the injured party.

Conditions that can give rise to an unseaworthiness claim include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Improperly maintained or worn out equipment
  • Inadequate equipment
  • Spills and other slipping hazards
  • Improperly trained and/or unsupervised crew members
  • Lack of safety devices and life-saving equipment
  • Lack of warning signs for hazardous or dangerous conditions

How a Maritime Lawyer Can Help Arkansas Barge and Tugboat Workers

Because of the complexity of maritime laws, if you are injured while performing maritime-related work aboard a vessel such as a tug boat, you should seek counsel from an experienced Arkansas tug boat injury lawyer who can advise you as to the specific laws that apply to your case, like the Jones Act or LHWCA. 

An Arkansas barge accident attorney can assist you with following the necessary legal processes (such as negotiating a settlement or filing a lawsuit) to help you obtain compensation for the injuries you sustained while working on or near an Arkansas vessel, such as a barge. An Arkansas maritime attorney may be able to help you recover for a variety of different damages associated with your maritime work-related injury including, but not limited to medical bills, lost wages, cost of rehabilitation, economic loss, and pain and suffering.

Arkansas Barge Accident Attorney Outlines the Hazards Workers Face 

Arkansas barge workers are exposed to a variety of different types of accidents each year such as: 

  • Collisions due to operator error, 
  • Slips and falls from wet surfaces, 
  • Improperly lifting heavy equipment and cargo, 
  • Inadequate railing, 
  • Snapbacks and line accidents, 
  • Mechanical issues
  • And more.  

These accidents can cause injuries such as burns, back injuries, broken bones, paralysis, drowning, hypothermia, brain injuries, crush injuries, and sometimes even death.

Toxic and Harmful Chemicals are a Threat to Barge Workers 

Additionally, barges that transport toxic chemicals in their holding tanks (i.e. benzene, xylene, toluene, gasoline, and jet fuel, among others) sometimes cause workers to be exposed to these chemicals in an unsafe manner. Negligent exposure to these dangerous chemicals can cause barge workers to become sick with a variety of different cancers such as leukemia, AML leukemia, blood cancers, and other types of cancers. 

Because these injuries can be so severe, it is essential for workers to obtain proper medical treatment and appropriate financial support which is what maritime legislation tries to provide for injured maritime workers and their families. An experienced Arkansas barge accident lawyer can assist injured workers with understanding their rights and obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.

Laws Protecting Injured Crew Members

The Jones Act and LHWCA provide some protection for Arkansas maritime workers. The Jones Act covers crew members specifically. Typically, the crew member must be doing work on the ship and contribute to the vessel’s mission when the injury occurs. In contrast, the LHWCA is a federal law that provides protection to traditional maritime workers such as, longshore workers, ship-repairers, and harbor construction workers. The LHWCA excludes crew members from its coverage as they are covered by the Jones Act. Typically, the injuries sustained by these maritime workers must be on the United States’ navigable waters or in the areas adjoining U.S. waters. 

Arkansas Tug Boat Injury Lawyer Explains Common Types of Accidents

In addition to barges, tug boats are also used in Arkansas waterways. These vessels help maneuver other vessels by towing or pushing them. Although these vessels are built to be powerful and sturdy, tugboat workers who assist with towing or pushing another vessel are performing dangerous maneuvers which sometimes can lead to accidents and injuries. In fact, working aboard an Arkansas tug boat can be just as dangerous as working aboard a vessel in the open seas. For example, pushing or pulling a large barge through narrow waterways while also trying to avoid structures such as bridges, sandbars, or other vessels nearby can be challenging. Some examples of tug boat accidents may include, but are not limited to: 

  • complications with towing or pushing another vessel,
  • mechanical or electrical failures,
  • collisions, 
  • wet services causing slips and falls, 
  • fires, and 
  • safety equipment malfunctions. 

Injuries Tugboat Workers Face 

As with barges, common injuries sustained from these types of accidents, and others, by Arkansas tugboat workers working on and off Arkansas tug boats can be serious, which, as explained by an Arkansas tug boat injury lawyer, may include, but are not limited to:

  • drowning,
  • fractured and broken bones,
  • back injuries,
  • burns,
  • spinal cord damage or paralysis,
  • amputated limbs,
  • herniated discs, and
  • death.

Contact the Maritime Lawyers at Willis Law Firm For Immediate Assistance After a Barge Accident or Tugboat Injury 

Willis Law Firm helps workers and their families who suffer from maritime-related injuries. Do you have questions about maritime law and the remedies available for yourself or a loved one injured while working on or near an Arkansas vessel? Our firm has over 40 years of experience working with maritime laws and helping maritime workers and their families obtain the compensation they deserve. If so, give us a call at 1-800-468-4878 email us through our online webform for a free consultation.

About The Arkansas River

Approximately 1,469 miles long, the Arkansas River originates in the Rocky Mountains near Leadville, Colorado and makes its way through four states: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The river is the sixth longest river in the nation and is the second longest tributary to the Mississippi-Missouri river system. Major cities along the Arkansas River include Pueblo, CO, Wichita, KS, Tulsa, OK and Little Rock, AR.

The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is an inland waterway system that primarily follows the Arkansas River. This extensive system of locks and channels begins at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and runs southeast to the Mississippi River.

Ports and terminals along the Arkansas River offer critical facilities contributing to the state’s economic development. These ports include the Port of Fort Smith, the Port of Little Rock, the Port of Pine Bluff/Jefferson County and the Port of Muskogee.

Arkansas River Terminals include:

  • Arkansas City – Bunge | Arkansas Valley
  • Dardanelle – Bruce Oakley
  • Dumas/Pendleton – Bruce Oakley | Riceland
  • Linwood – Bunge
  • Morrilton – Bruce Oakley
  • North Little Rock – Bruce Oakley
  • Pine Bluff – Bunge | Gavilon | Watco
  • Van Buren – Consolidated Grain Barge | Five Rivers

The Willis Law Firm – Representing Workers Injured on the River

If you have been injured while working on the Arkansas River, the Willis Law Firm can help. We are an experienced team of professionals that represents injured crew members across the nation. Our firm knows just how serious an injury can be and we are committed to protecting the legal rights of victims injured in river and other maritime accidents. With more than 40 years of experience, of representing workers in Jones Act and General Maritime Law cases makes us well positioned to help you get the compensation you need to deal with your injuries.

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