Barges are ancient methods of transport but remain in use because they are practical and efficient. Barges often transport bulky materials in the Gulf and inland waterways, and some even serve as platforms for drilling operations.
Barge workers have some of the most hazardous jobs in the already-dangerous maritime industry. If you were hurt while working on a barge, it is important to know your rights. A Pearland barge accident lawyer could help you get the compensation you are entitled to receive after this kind of maritime accident.
Barges Are Dangerous Places to Work
Barges are flat-bottomed and designed to carry large, heavy loads. Working in all weather conditions, on a moving platform, and around heavy machinery and cargo on the water exposes barge workers to numerous hazards. Barge accidents could involve a variety of circumstances, such as:
- Falls on slippery surfaces, including falls overboard
- Getting tangled in a tow line
- Crane collapses or dropped loads
- Crushing injuries due to shifting cargo or equipment
- Collisions with obstructions, other barges, or tugboats
- Overloaded or improperly loaded barge capsizes
- Fires or explosions
Accidents of this nature can result in significant injury to a barge worker. Abrasions, fractures, and soft tissue injuries are common but usually heal without serious or permanent complications. However, barge workers in unsafe working conditions may also suffer amputations, crushed limbs, burns, impalement, drowning and near-drowning, spinal cord damage, and head injuries leading to disfigurement, blindness, and permanent cognitive impairment. Some barge accidents are fatal.
Getting Compensation after a Barge Accident Injury
Federal laws protect barge workers and may offer you compensation during your recovery. You may also be able to seek legal remedies in court. A Pearland legal professional could explain the legal options available after a barge accident and help you pursue appropriate compensation.
Depending on the specifics of your barge job, you might be covered by one of two federal laws. An experienced attorney could analyze your employment status and determine which law applies in your barge accident case.
Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act)
The Merchant Marine Act, colloquially known as the Jones Act, applies to barge workers who spend at least 30 percent of their work time on board a vessel on navigable waters. Jones Act benefits include coverage for living expenses and medical care while a barge worker recovers from an on-the-job injury. These benefits are payable from the point of injury, regardless of the type of accident or its cause.
The Jones Act also allows you to sue your employer or the barge owner for the consequences of your injuries. Damages could include:
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Ongoing medical expenses
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The LHWCA supports barge workers who do not qualify under the Jones Act. Specifically, it allows you to receive two-thirds of your salary and covers your medical care while you are unable to work. Additional benefits are available if you suffered a permanent injury. Under 33 United States Code §§ 905(b) and 933, a negligent third-party who causes an otherwise preventable barge accident could be liable for the resulting damages.
Do Not Delay Legal Action
If you were injured while working on a barge, you have a limited time to pursue compensation. It is essential to report any injury to a barge supervisor immediately and to get medical care as soon as possible.
The Jones Act requires you to bring a lawsuit within three years of your barge injury. If you are covered by the LWHCA, you have only one year to file a barge accident claim under that statute.
Failure to meet these deadlines could prevent you from receiving the compensation you are entitled to. Let a barge injury attorney in Pearland help preserve your rights by meeting all statutory deadlines on your behalf.
Trust Your Barge Accident Claim to a Seasoned Pearland Attorney
The laws governing injuries to barge workers are complicated, and employers might try to exploit a worker’s lack of legal understanding. It is never a bad idea to level the playing field by getting a knowledgeable legal advocate on your side.
Contact a Pearland barge accident lawyer as soon as you are injured for advice on how to proceed. Call today.