Common Causes of Maritime Injuries
At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we recognize that maritime injuries can be debilitating to the victim. We also know that no two maritime cases are the same. Should you choose to work with a personal injury attorney from our legal team, you will be able to rest assured knowing that you will have an advocate on your side that is deeply knowledgeable about all areas of maritime law. No matter the cause of the offshore accident that caused you injury, you can trust that we will go the distance in our efforts to protect your legal rights. Just some of the different causes of maritime injuries that we can help with include, but are not limited to, the following:
Shipping accidents on navigable waters may occur because the navigator of a ship or crew is distracted by a cell phone or other wireless device. Just as mobile phones and texting can distract drivers on the highway, wireless devices can lead to serious accidents at sea, including collisions and groundings. The U.S. Coast Guard recently issued a safety advisory warning the maritime industry of the risk of use of cell phones and other wireless devices while operating a vessel. Unfortunately, too many mariners don't pay attention to the warning until after a serious accident occurs.
Ships and Cell Phone Use
The Coast Guard strongly recommends that ship owners and operators develop policies regarding the appropriate use of cell phones and other wireless devices while on duty. When mariners are navigating a ship, the use of cell phones and wireless devices unrelated to the task at hand may cause lapses of attention, disrupt the exchange of information, and lead to serious offshore accidents involving injuries and fatalities. Similarly, full attention and active communication are demanded when crew members are loading or unloading cargo, taking on fuel or other potentially hazardous activities.
The National Transportation Safety Board has found that use of cellular phones and other mobile communication devices can slow response times, hinder performance, and increase attention lapses of those in safety-sensitive positions. All crew members are supposed to act as lookouts for potential accidents aboard ship. In two recent investigations, the NTSB determined that Coast Guard crew were engaged in texting or cell phone conversations unrelated to work at the time of two maritime collision accidents involving U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats that left one child dead and 10 injured.
The casual use of a cell phone or wireless device by a co-worker or crew member before a serious maritime accident may reflect a lack of proper supervision or lack of attention to safety and may be evidence of negligence. The Coast Guard has said it now recognizes the hazard of distracted mariners and says other maritime employers should work to reduce preventable accidents.
Tug Boats and Barges
Tug boats and barges are essential marine vessels that allow various types of goods to be transported to shore. Unfortunately, however, seamen on tug boats and barges are especially vulnerable to accidents. The nature of the modern tug boat, which combines maximum horsepower, stability, and a high fuel capacity, leaves open many opportunities for tripping, falling and serious accidents with towlines and winches. Flat-bottomed barges find it difficult to change course, which can also lead to accidents. Some of the most serious accidents occur when crew members transfer between the barge and the tug boat.
At Arnold & Itkin, our lawyers have extensive experience with all kinds of tug boat and barge accidents. We know the kind of serious accidents that arise from human error, insufficient crew training, and inadequate or worn equipment. Tug boat and barge workers are protected by the Jones Act and federal maritime regulations, which guarantee seaman a right to a seaworthy vessel.
More About Tug Boat Accidents
Some of the most serious injuries on board a tug come from the tow lines and winches. The very strength of these lines and winches is exactly what makes them so dangerous if they sweep the deck. In addition, frayed or weak lines can part, resulting in a dangerous situation when the barge detaches. For more than a hundred years, seamen have suffered back injuries from working with these lines. In modern times, there are light-weight, high-strength lines that can protect workers – but unfortunately, many modern maritime companies refuse to pay for them.
Another source of tug boat and barge accidents is inadequate staff. When maritime companies don't fully staff their vessels, it can lead to overwork and fatigue – conditions that will cause seamen to make mistakes they wouldn't have otherwise made. Inadequate staff also means the vessel will be undermanned in the case of an emergency, and seamen will be unable to respond as quickly and capably as possible. Long hours lead to tired seamen and unnecessary accidents.
Some accidents occur when the tugboat collides with docks, the shore, sandbars, or other obstacles in the water. Other accidents take place as crews make the difficult transition from barge tow to the dock, or back to the tug. In addition, accidents may take place due to slippery conditions on deck from bad weather conditions or hydraulic leaks.
Contact a maritime injury lawyer today!
At Arnold & Itkin, we know that the work seamen perform on tug boats and barges is valuable, important – and dangerous. Marine companies have the responsibility to provide a safe working environment, an adequately staffed crew and a seaworthy vessel. If you've been injured in a tug boat or barge accident, we can help! Our lawyers get results – we recovered billions of dollars for our clients. This is the level of experience that you can trust.
Want to know more? Give our firm a call as soon as possible at (888) 493-1629