Maritime Law Overview
Seaman's Information Regarding Maritime Injury
While on the water, people find themselves in situations that could end in accident or injury.
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Tug boats and barges are necessary parts of the maritime fleet, yet, like most vessels they are not without risks for those who work on them. Workers should be aware of both the dangers that exist and their rights if an injury does occur.
Tug boats are primarily used to maneuver other types of vessels, such as barges. They are designed to be strong, powerful and to hold a lot of fuel so that they can safely reach the vessels which they need to move and move vessels back to port.
However, their strength and power, which are necessary to their mission, can make it difficult for them to safely carry out their mission. The potential for problems exist when a tug is attached to large vessel such as a barge. The equipment, such as the tow winches, are powerful and dangerous and even the tow wires themselves can be dangerous.
The tug boats themselves typically do not have a lot of room for the crew. It can be difficult for the crew to safely move around the boat, especially in times of rough seas or inclement weather.
There are many different types of barges. Barges can be used for dredging, for construction, for transportation, for drilling or for storing fuel. Some barges rely on tug boats for movement and others are self propelled.
All barges are large flat bottomed boats. The design makes it very difficult for these types of vessels to change course quickly and accidents can occur as a result. Accidents can also occur if a barge accidently becomes separated from its tug boat. If a barge comes loose then it continues floating without being able to be navigated by its crew.
Serious accidents can also occur when seamen attempt to get on and off the barge from floating docks. If the seamen lose their footing and fall into the water then they are at risk of being crushed by the barge.
The types of accidents that occur on tow boats and barges are often due to negligence. If a seaman is injured as a result of his employer's negligence then he may be able to make a claim under the federal Jones Act. Potential damages include lost wages, past and future medical claims, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering and meals, lodging and other expenses.
Maritime work on vessels such as tug boats and barges is dangerous. Crew members rely on their colleagues and employers to act responsibly and reasonably. When that doesn't happen everyone is put at risk and serious injuries and fatalities can result from the accidents that occur.