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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Capsizing – 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Contact the Firm for a Free Evaluation with an Experienced Tugboat Accident Lawyer
An experienced tugboat accident lawyer at Brais Law Firm have 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 305-416-2901 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.
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