An Experienced Tugboat Accident Lawyer Is Here to Help You Recover Compensation

If you’ve been injured in a tugboat accident, an experienced tugboat accident lawyer at Brais Law Firm exclusively represents employees who were injured while working. This line of work is physically demanding and dangerous. Crew members work long hours and encounter conditions which often put them at risk of injuries and sometimes death. Injuries and fatalities which most commonly occur on tugboats are caused by the following:

  • Unseaworthy decks
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Poorly maintained docks, skids, winches & cranes
  • Improper or unmaintained tools
  • Line handling accidents
  • Unspooling wire rope
  • Falling objects
  • Parting tow-mooring lines & snapbacks
  • Understaffed crew
  • Insufficiently trained co-workers
  • Inadequate railings
  • Failure to follow load plans
  • Dock collisions
  • Working excessive hours

When an accident occurs, tugboat companies contact their insurers, who appoint lawyers to look after the interest of the employers and the insurance company. It is very important that if you were injured or a loved one lost his or her life in a tugboat accident, contact an experienced tugboat accident lawyer to work on your behalf.

Keith S. Brais

We Protect the Rights of Seaman and Crew Members

Our tugboat accident lawyers have represented several injured workers on the job. Unfortunately, when investigating these types of claims, we often find that our clients’ accidents almost always could have been avoided if the tugboat companies had simply followed their internal safety policies and maritime safety regulations, provided sufficient and properly trained co-workers, and maintained tools and equipment in good working order. Fortunately, the law protects crew members and their families from the negligence of marine employers, co-workers and the unseaworthiness of the vessels they are required to work aboard.eo

Keith S. Brais

The law entitles injured seamen to receive prompt and proper medical treatment at the employer’s expense and a daily living stipend. These benefits continue until a qualified doctor, not the employer or employer’s attorney, finds the injury has reached maximum medical improvement. Injured seamen are also entitled to compensation due to the accident for the physical and emotional pain and suffering experienced and lost wages the seaman sustained in the past and will likely sustain in the future. Families of seaman who dies while working aboard tugboats are entitled to recover the loss of support, services, and guidance their loved ones would have provided. In addition, if the death occurred within state waters, the seaman’s estate is entitled to recover pre-death pain and suffering. Each case is different, and we recommend you contact an attorney experienced with tugboat accidents to advise you of your legal rights.

Keith S. Brais

Common Causes of Tugboat Accidents

Tugboat accidents can result from a wide range of causes. Some tugboats are decades old, and they are desperately in need of maintenance and repairs. Some tugboats are brand new, but their captains and crewmembers lack the training to operate them safely. Then, of course, there is the risk of being hit by a recreational boater who is distracted or drunk at the helm. Our tugboat accident lawyers represent crewmembers who have been injured in accidents involving all causes. This includes common causes of tugboat accidents such as:

Co–Worker Negligence

On a tugboat, it is extremely important that all crew members know how to perform their jobs safely. Even simple mistakes can lead to serious accidents on the water. If one of your fellow crew members is responsible for your injuries, an experienced tugboat accident lawyer may be able to pursue a claim against your employer.

Collisions with Other Vessels

Collisions with other vessels are serious risks for crewmembers aboard tugboats. This is especially true in crowded harbors, rivers, and marinas. Whether a collision involves another commercial vessel or a recreational boater, crewmembers who suffer injuries have clear legal rights.

Collisions with Stationary Objects

Tugboat accidents can also result from collisions with stationary objects such as day markers, breakwaters, docks, and piers. Underwater objects such as pipelines and shipwrecks present major risks as well.


While tugboats are designed to be highly stable, they still can – and do – capsize. Capsizing accidents can result from barges being overloaded, tugs getting pulled, loads being unevenly distributed, hazardous sea conditions, and various other factors.

Mechanical Failures

On tugboats and other vessels, mechanical failures can suddenly and unexpectedly put crewmembers in harm’s way. From engine failures to hawser winch malfunctions, all types of issues have the potential to cause all types of accidents.

On–Board Hazards

Various onboard hazards can present risks for tugboat crewmembers, from moving parts to slippery decks. In many cases, these hazards can classify a tugboat as “unseaworthy,” which provides injured crewmembers with specific legal rights.

Near–Drowning Accidents

Near-drowning accidents from falls overboard can have life-changing consequences. The risks of these accidents can be compounded when a tugboat does not have appropriate safety equipment onboard.

Background media

Are You a “Seaman” if You Work on a Tugboat?

As a tugboat crewmember, it is important to know if you qualify as a “seaman.” This term has a very specific – and important – meaning under the Jones Act. If you qualify as a seaman, you can file for maintenance and cure benefits regardless of how you got injured. In addition, you may be able to collect additional compensation if your employer is responsible for your injury. Generally speaking, tugboat crewmembers qualify as seamen under the Jones Act. To qualify, you do not need to spend your days at sea. As long as you work onboard a vessel operating on navigable waters (i.e., a harbor, river, or marina), you should qualify for Jones Act compensation.

How Much Can Injured Seamen Recover After Tugboat Accidents?

When seeking financial compensation under the Jones Act, the amount you can recover depends on two primary factors. These are: (i) the cause of the accident and (ii) the costs of your injury. Maintenance and cure benefits are available to injured tugboat crewmembers under the Jones Act regardless of how they got injured (with only a few very limited exceptions). These “no-fault” benefits are intended to cover injured crewmembers’ medical bills and a portion of their lost wages. While maintenance and cure benefits are helpful – and extremely important – they do not cover all of the costs of job-related injuries. Fortunately, the Jones Act also gives injured crewmembers the right to pursue negligence claims. If your employer was even “slightly” negligent in creating the dangerous situation that led to your injury, a tugboat accident attorney can help you seek full compensation for your medical needs, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Banner media

5 Little-Known Facts about Tugboat Crewmembers’ Rights From A Tugboat Accident Lawyer

When seeking financial compensation after a tugboat accident, there is a lot you need to know. For example, here are five little-known facts about tugboat crewmembers’ rights:

1. You Can File a Claim Regardless of How You Got Injured

Many crewmembers believe they can only file a claim if someone else is responsible for their injuries. This is not the case. Even if you accidentally injured yourself at work, you are entitled to file a claim under the Jones Act.

2. You Don’t Need Proof that Your Employer is to Blame

As mentioned above, the Jones Act entitles injured tugboat crewmembers to maintenance and cure on a “no-fault” basis. This means you do not need proof that your employer is to blame. All you need is proof that you got injured on the job.

3. It Doesn’t Matter if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition

Another common misconception is that crewmembers cannot file claims when they have pre-existing conditions. While your employer (or its insurance company) may try to use your pre-existing condition against you, you still have every right to collect just compensation for your work-related injury.

4. You May Be Entitled to More Than Standard Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Standard workers’ compensation benefits for land-based workers cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket costs. While maintenance and cure benefits under the Jones Act provide somewhat similar coverage, filing a negligence claim under the Jones Act allows eligible crewmembers to recover additional compensation.

5. There is a Time Limit to Assert Your Legal Rights

You can lose your rights under the Jones Act if you wait too long to file a claim. To ensure you don’t lose your rights, you should speak with a tugboat accident lawyer as soon as possible. 

What Laws Apply to Tugboat Injuries and Crashes?

If you have experienced an injury, many lawyers will claim that they will be able to help you collect what you deserve, but when it comes to injuries on waterways or oceans, that may not be the case. Federal maritime law governs the outcomes of many cases that happen offshore, onshore, or on vessels. When you are working on a boat or in offshore or onshore operations related to various maritime industries, certain local laws, statutes, and case outcomes may not apply to your situation.

Background media

“Seaman” Classification Leads to Multiple Protections and Legal Support

When a worker is classified as a “seaman,”  barring a few exceptions, they will be covered by a number of overlapping laws and statutes. These include both Federal maritime law in addition to the Jones Act. The United States Supreme Court has ruled extensively on what laws apply to claims that stem from the work of “seamen” and have ruled that both maritime laws and any overlapping statutes from the Jones Act simultaneously apply. 

The term “seaman” is classified in 46 U.S. Code Sec. 10313 as an individual who is engaged or employed in any capacity onboard a vessel, except sailing school instructors and students and scientific personnel. Working on a tugboat will generally lead to you being classified as a seaman, which in turn entitles you to the many protections outlined under Federal maritime law and the Jones Act. 

Your Tugboat Accident Lawyer Determines Which Laws Apply to Your Unique Situation

It is important to work with a law firm that views you as more than just a number, but a unique client encountering their own individual circumstances. While there is no cookie-cutter approach to a tugboat injury case, the maritime lawyers at Brais Law Firm have decades of combined experience representing seamen like tugboat workers, crewmen, and other maritime workers who have been injured on the job. If you are considering hiring an attorney, it is important to hire one who has a track record of winning claims and cases on behalf of their clients.

You are entirely within your rights to ask an attorney how many cases they have taken like yours and how many of those they’ve won. Attorneys who do well and win cases for their clients are not shy about it.Brais Law Firm has achieved the following results amongst other tens of millions of dollars:

  • $2.9 million – crewmember personal injury
  • $500,000 – crewmember personal injury
  • $162,500 – crewmember personal injury 
  • $1.29 million – crewmember personal injury
  • $340,000 – crewmember personal injury

We are more than happy to discuss our track record with you during your free initial consultation. You have no risk and no obligation during the consultation. At the time of the consultation, we will collect some basic information about your injuries and the related incident or accident that caused them. If we take your case, we may offer to do so on contingency, which means that we only get paid if we win. In that instance, you’ll pay nothing out-of-pocket, as our earnings are a portion of what we win in your case which will be agreed upon before getting started.

Banner media

Brais Law Firm Has Extensive Maritime Law Experience

Making the decision to hire a lawyer is the first step toward building the strongest possible claim or case in your favor. Even when it is undeniable that the vessel manager or owner was negligent and because of their negligence, you were injured, you’ll still have to gather evidence to prove your damages prior to filing a claim. Collecting compensation to which you are rightfully entitled requires the following:

  • The gathering of evidence to prove the liability of the vessel owner or other party
  • The collection of evidence to accurately and completely measure the medical and occupational costs and damages linked to your injury 
  • The drafting of a claim that incorporates your evidence meets the requirements of the law and insurance company with which you are filing and is filed within the time that is legally allowed to do so
  • Successfully negotiating a settlement with the insurance company that fully covers your damages 
  • Collecting what the insurance company has agreed to pay you,
  • The filing of a lawsuit to force the insurance company to pay you what you are owed 

Contact the Firm for a Free Evaluation with an Experienced Tugboat Accident Lawyer

An experienced tugboat accident lawyer at Brais Law Firm has the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skills to obtain the compensation you deserve. Our firm’s primary office is located in Miami, FL, although we routinely handle claims throughout the state of Florida. To reach our lawyers call 305-709-4117 from within Florida, call 800-499-0551 from within the U.S., or click Contact Us to complete a form for a free evaluation of your case and to learn how the “AV” Preeminent, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates and Board Certified Maritime Attorneys with Brais Law Firm might be able to help you.

Who Will be Handling my Case?

Your case will be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to get the results you deserve. The practitioners at our firm have over 70 years of collective trial experience. Our credentials and qualifications are extensive, including an “AV” Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell and membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. More importantly, we have a first-hand understanding of how insurance carriers operate because we represented clients insured with major insurance companies for nearly 20 years before we made a choice to change sides so that we could help the people who need us most – individuals just like you. Learn more.

View FAQs

Banner media

Brais Law Firm: Who We Are

Visit our Video Gallery

Keith S. Brais standing in front of ships
Lawyer consulting with client

Perfect 5.0 Client Review Rating Inspiring Words from our Clients

View All Testimonials

Cruise Ship Crew Member Injury

"I was in pain for a good 6 months, it was just a nightmare. It wasn't until I got Mr. Brais that I really started getting the help I needed from the doctors. You need somebody you can trust, somebody to give you some guidance. They stuck in there with me the whole way."

— Client

I highly recommend Brais Law Firm

"I highly recommend Brais Law Firm. Their professionalism and expertise were top notch. My slip and fall injury case involved a well known cruise ship and was nerve racking to me. They calmed all my fears and walked me through step by step. In the end they helped me obtain a favorable recovery. Look no further, call them with your Maritime case!!!"

— P.C.

Tug & Barge Crew Member Death

"I just thought he [Mr. Brais] was the man to do it. I felt comfortable with him being by my side. The pain my family has suffered has been immeasurable, but he was there with me. It’s not just him, it’s his team also. Keith really stood up for my son. I know I made the best choice."

— Client

I recommend Keith Brais

"I was in an accident where I was struck by a boat and boat propeller. The Brais Law Firm represented me in a very professional manner. I am very satisfied with the service and support I received from the firm and happy with the results they achieved. I recommend Keith Brais and his firm to anyone needing representation related to a maritime personal injury."

— M.C.

Resort Guest Injury

"As we worked with Keith, I realized what would have happened had we just selected an attorney in town…I realized that the outcome would have been probably entirely different, and not as successful as it was. I felt very comfortable going through with the whole process. I would say Keith is a superhero."

— Client

Maritime & Boating Accident News

Navigating Legal Waters: How to Sue a Cruise Line

For individuals who have experienced injuries or incidents while traveling as a ...
Read More

Maryland Resident Indicted On Federal Charges For Cruise Ship Sexual Assault

In recent news, it is reported a 21-year-old resident of Abingdon, Maryland, Jal...
Read More

Brais Law Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for Admiralty and Maritime Law

The team at Brais Law is proud to announce our recognition in the 30th edition o...
Read More

Maritime Law Blog

National and International All Ports of Call. Anywhere Offshore.Brais Law is here for you.

Contact Us
Contact us media
Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at 800-499-0551.
Contact Us