Barges are offshore vessels used for river and canal transport; they are a type of boat with a flat bottom that specializes in moving heavy goods through shallow waters. There are many different types of barges, most of which are not self-propelled. In these cases, a tugboat is responsible for pushing the barge. Barges typically transport items in bulk and are commonly used because the cost of transportation with this method is relatively low. On average, barges can carry about 1,500 tons of cargo.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, around 4,000 barges operate in the U.S. The employees on these vessels face serious dangers. OSHA reports that between 1997 and 2006, 305 employees were killed on barge/tow combination vessels and 379 explosions and fires occurred on barges or tow boats.
We represent towboat and barge workers in all types of Jones Act cases, including those that involve:
•Head Injuries – A sudden blow from a pipe swinging overhead, from a boom or from falling equipment can cause a traumatic brain injury, ranging from a mild concussion to permanent disability. A traumatic brain injury can adversely affect your ability to earn a living and provide for your family. Falls from heights also can cause open head wounds and closed head injuries, resulting in loss of balance, an impaired attention span, double vision, and slurred speech.
•Back Injuries – The heavy lifting and hard labor aboard a tow boat or barge can lead to serious back injuries, requiring back surgery. Falls from unguarded balconies or unsecured ladders can cause back injuries, including spinal cord damage and nerve damage. A serious back injury can make a towboat worker unable to work for an extended period or leave them permanently disabled.
•Burns – Malfunctioning towboat equipment, accumulation of combustible fumes in unventilated spaces, welding accidents, and loss of hazardous or flammable material control can all cause explosions and fires resulting in serious burns. Often human error and carelessness are the causes of a serious burn injury. Whatever the cause, a burn injury can cause disfigurement, require extensive plastic surgery, and result in permanent disability. Workers are often out of work for months after a serious burn injury.
•Loss of a Limb – The loss of a limb is a devastating, life-changing injury. Many towboat industry related amputation accidents involve cables under tension or mooring lines. A worker’s hand can become ensnared in the line as it coils onto a winch drum. A deckhand can get a leg caught and crushed between two barges. The loss of a limb often requires a prosthetic and re-training.
•Fatalities – Every year, maritime workers die in falls, explosions, electrocutions, and other accidents caused by negligence on the part of towboat industry employers.
The Dysart Law Firm knows what factors to look for to identify employer negligence and build a compelling case for full compensation of the victim’s family. If you have lost a loved one working in the towboat industry through negligence of others, you have a right to seek legal compensation for your loved one’s death.
If you’ve been injured while employed on a barge, we can help. Contact the Dysart Law Firm, P.C., today to speak to an attorney about your situation and learn about your legal rights.