Houston Dredge Accident Lawyers
Fighting for Injured Dredge Workers in Texas, Louisiana & Nationwide
Dredges are the workhorses of the maritime industry. They are used to clear sediment and other underwater debris to make sure waterways remain navigable for other types of vessels. Because dredges use machinery and deal with hard-to-clear material, dredge workers face many dangers.
Whether a dredge is on a vessel or anchored in or near the water, companies have a responsibility to protect workers. Since the dangers associated with a dredge are well known, accidents involving them are often preventable. No worker deserves to have their life changed because of an accident.
At Arnold & Itkin, our team has a history of fighting for the compensation of injured offshore workers. We’ve recovered billions of dollars, and we’re ready to fight for the justice that you deserve. Finding out if you have a case is free and our team only collects a fee if we obtain results for you. When your future is on the line, turn to our top-rated law firm for the best results.
Call our dredge accident lawyers in Texas and Louisiana at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation. We are here to help.
What Are Dredging Vessels?
Excavating material from the bottom of a river, lake, or seabed requires a specific kind of vessel. Companies utilize dredging vessels to deepen ship channels, destroy sediment buildup on riverbeds, and fish for crabs and clams. Because dredging vessels are vital for clearing waterways, they're a common sight on all freshwater shipping lanes and channels.
There's no one type of dredging vessel. All the following vessels are considered dredging vessels:
- Vacuum or suction dredgers
- Bucket dredgers
- Clamshell dredgers
- Backhoe dredges
- Water injection dredges
- Pneumatic dredges
- Bed levelers
- Fishing dredges
- And others
How Does Dredging Work?
As suggested by their name, suction dredges remove sediment from the bottom of waterways by using a tube that sucks it up like a vacuum. These dredges can work in conjunction with a cutting mechanism that makes sediment easier to remove, which helps prevent clogs in the dredge’s pipe. Mechanical dredges, like clamshells or backhoe dredging vessels, use buckets and grabbers to break through material and lift it from the bottom of a waterway. These excavating arm most often resembles the bucket or backhoe of a construction tractor or digger.
Some dredges may also use pressurized water jets to loosen or destabilize sediment. In fishing, pressure jet dredging can chase animals out of muddy layers of seabed and into the collection mechanism. Other dredges may also use a rake or a leveler to collect or redistribute sediment on the bottom of a seabed or ship channel.
How Dangerous Is Dredging?
Because dredging often requires the removal or manipulation of several tons of material, the machinery used on dredging vessels is dangerous and often unwieldy. Clamshell dredges come with the risk of dropping objects on dredge workers, while dredges that drag the seabed might hook onto a gas line and cause a leak, or even an explosion as we saw recently in Corpus Christi.
Common dredge accidents and hazards include:
- Falling objects or materials
- Malfunctioning machinery
- Improperly maintained machinery
- Inadequate safety equipment and training
- Collisions with other vessels
A document on dredging safety from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that dredging accidents, when they do occur, are often life-changing or fatal. In the 12-month period used for the USACE data, there were 7 dredge accidents. Of those seven, three were fatal, two caused serious injury, and two caused major property damage. Those are the dangers unique to dredging vessels; dredge workers are also subject to the 'normal' risks offshore workers face in their regular duties.
What Are Common Dredge Worker Injuries?
Falls and drownings are common accidents aboard dredging vessels. The risk of falling and/or drowning doesn't necessarily only happen at sea, either. USACE reports one instance where a crew member fell from the gangway and died while boarding his vessel. Due to the serious weight and scale of dredging work, the injuries associated with working on a dredge are often equally serious.
Common dredge worker injuries include:
- Crushing injuries from falling objects
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Toxic exposure
- Shoulder injury
- Post-traumatic stress
- Joint injuries (knees, ankles, hips)
- Hand injuries
The Corpus Christi Ship Channel Explosion
Dredges are important because of how much other industries rely on them to make safe water channels. Since a dredge often operates alongside other types of commerce, they risk facing the dangers of being near larger ships and dangerous materials associated with the industries that rely on their work.
On August 21, 2020, a Corpus Christi Ship Channel explosion claimed the lives of four workers and injured eight more. The incident occurred after the dredging vessel Waymon L Boyd struck a submerged pipeline and triggered a massive explosion. After the blast, the dredger caught on fire, broke apart, and sank. The vessel was owned and operated by the Orion Group. It took three days to recover the bodies of all victims. Initial reports indicated that the submerged pipeline was not properly marked to alert dredge workers of its presence.
Other Incidents involving the Wayman L. Boyd & Orion Marine Group
The Wayman L. Boyd and Orion Marine Group were at the center of a lawsuit in 2012. The case involved a voyage from Houston to Port Lavaca. Additional details are unclear at this time. Then, in 2014, a worker was airlifted to the hospital after he was struck by a bucket in Olympia, Washington. Finally, Orion Marine received at least one citation for a serious violation for them Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the months before this incident.
What Do I Do If Injured on a Dredge Vessel?
If you've been injured on a dredge vessel, you deserve to recover everything you've lost. Our dredging injury lawyers in Texas and Louisiana serve offshore workers all over the Gulf Coast and around the country, winning them the results they need to rebuild their lives. After an injury, the first thing workers should do is get medical care as quickly as possible. You may end up seeing a company doctor, but it's also vital to get a second opinion or see a specialist about your injuries. Once you're in stable condition (or if you're researching on behalf of a loved one, as soon as you hear about their condition), call a dredge accident lawyer. Only by having an attorney investigate your situation can you begin to understand your legal options.
Are Dredging Injuries Covered by Maritime Law?
Absolutely. As a worker aboard a dredge vessel, you're covered by maritime law, which entitles you to basic maintenance and cure when you're injured at sea or on navigable waters. However, you're also entitled to compensation under the Jones Act, which is one of the most powerful avenues to recovery for an injured maritime worker.
Can Dredge Workers Receive Compensation After an Accident?
The Jones Act was passed nearly 100 years ago. It provides offshore workers with the opportunity to pursue negligent parties that cause a serious or deadly accident. Before the Jones Act, workers were only able to receive compensation for the living expenses and medical debt they accrued while recovering.
In maritime law, dredgers are considered Jones Act vessels, making crew members eligible for compensation after suffering from negligence.
With the Jones Act, an injured dredge worker can receive compensation that accounts for the scope of their injuries, rather than for the immediate financial repercussions of them. This way, they have a chance to recover as much as possible after suffering from the negligence of another party.
The Jones Act can help injured dredge workers and their families recover compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning capacity
- Past, present, and future medical care
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of consortium
Call Our Dredge Injury Lawyers Now at (888) 493-1629
Arnold & Itkin isn’t afraid of the fight it takes to get injured offshore workers and their families the compensation they deserve. When negligence caused the Deepwater Horizon to explode, we were there to demand answers for its crew. After the El Faro was ordered to sail into a dangerous storm and disappeared, we helped family members of the lost crew hold its owner accountable. These are just two examples of the ways we’ve helped offshore workers and their families recover after serious accidents.
Our history of results makes Arnold & Itkin the team those suffering from dredging accidents need. We never accept excuses, we always seek the best results, and we refuse to back down from a fight because our clients deserve justice, no matter what. Call us now for a free consultation of your case. Receiving our help is affordable because we only charge for our services if we obtain results for you.
Finding answers starts with a phone call. Our dredge accident lawyers are standing by to help you now at (888) 493-1629.
Our team proudly serves the injured nationwide, including throughout Texas, Louisiana, and the entire Gulf Coast. We help individual from places such as Brownsville, Pasadena, McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, Weslaco, Rio Grande City, Hidalgo, Port Lavaca, Roma, and the surrounding areas. Call today to learn more.