Houston Tugboat & Barge Accident Attorneys

Representing Victims of Serious Barge & Tugboat Injuries Across the U.S.

Crew fatalities aboard towing vessels and barges have long been an industry problem. Before 2000, fatalities from barge accidents accounted for up to 20 deaths every year, hitting a peak of 29 deaths in 1997. The overall fatality rate has slowly descended, but industry-wide statistics won't help injured workers or grieving families.

Tugboats allow various goods to be transported to shore. Unfortunately, seamen on tugboats are especially vulnerable to accidents. The nature of the modern tugboat, which combines maximum horsepower, stability, and high fuel capacity, leaves many opportunities for tripping, falling, and serious accidents with towlines and winches. Some of the most serious accidents occur when crew members transfer between the barge and the tugboat.

At Arnold & Itkin, our lawyers have extensive experience with all kinds of barge and tugboat accidents. We know the kind of serious accidents that arise from human error, insufficient crew training, and inadequate or worn equipment. We know how much is on the line, and we know that only the best Houston injury attorney will do.

Call (888) 493-1629 today to find out how we can help you. Your consultation is free!
Abogados de lesiones por accidentes marítimos y en alta mar en Houston

Barge Accident Cases We Handle

The types of barge accidents we've investigated include:

  • Jack-Up Barges: Also known as jack-up rigs, these platforms drill oil in shallow waters.
  • Cargo Barges: These barges can carry dry bulk or liquid cargo. Liquid cargo barges often carry oil.

Tugboat and barge workers are protected by the Jones Act and federal maritime regulations, which guarantee seamen the right to seaworthy vessels.

The barge accident lawyers at Arnold & Itkin LLP have won billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, much of it on behalf of maritime and offshore workers. We've been a leading authority in admiralty law for years, winning money for workers and their families in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the sinking of the El Faro, and countless other maritime accidents. Our work on behalf of barge accident victims has been widely reported.

Common Causes of Tugboat Accidents

Common causes of tugboat accidents include 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.

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 100 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; 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 as possible.

2020 Barge Explosion in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel

Early in the morning on August 21, 2020, a dredging vessel owned by Orion Marine Group struck a submerged pipeline in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The resulting explosion and fire sunk the dredge and spread to a nearby grain elevator, injuring eight workers. Another four crew members were reported missing; two of their bodies were found the following day, after which point the Coast Guard suspended rescue efforts. The final two workers’ bodies were found when a portion of the dredging vessel, the Waymon L Boyd, was recovered from the middle of the ship channel. The cause of this barge explosion is still under investigation.

2019 Barge Accident in Houston Ship Channel

On May 10, 2019, two barges collided in the Houston Ship Channel with an outgoing ship. One of the barges capsized, and the other leaked thousands of barrels of refined gasoline product into the channel. Both barges were carrying 25,000 barrels of reformate, a highly flammable substance often mixed with gasoline to create a high-octane commercial product. It is fatal if ingested and highly toxic to marine life.

The 2017 Bouchard Barge Explosion

In October 2017, Bouchard Transportation Co. Barge No. 255 was off the coast of Port Aransas when oil vapors collecting over time ignited. The explosion killed two deckhands, one of whom has never been recovered. Witnesses reported that the barge explosion was actually made of multiple explosions.

A Coast Guard investigation later discovered the company had a history of silencing, terminating, or threatening employees who tried to report serious hazards aboard their barges. Though captains had stop-work authority, using it often led to them getting fired. The results of the investigation found that multiple barges had exhibited the same problems Barge No. 255 did, including the hazardous gathering of oil vapors. An NTSB investigation found Bouchard responsible for the hazards aboard their vessels.

Tugboat & Barge Accident FAQ

What injuries can result from a barge or Tugboat accident?

A tugboat or barge accident can cause serious injuries. Some of these can be fatal. In barge collisions, fires, and explosions, for example, crew members may experience catastrophic injuries and even drowning, near-drowning, or hypothermia if they are thrown or jump from the barge. Other injuries may include severe burns, broken bones, loss of limb, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and crush injuries. Because these injuries are so severe, getting the right treatment and fair financial support will make all the difference for an injured worker and his or her family. That’s what we fight to accomplish at Arnold & Itkin when we represent victims of barge and tugboat accidents.

What types of barge and Tugboat workers do you represent?

Our tugboat and barge accident attorneys represent all types of crew members and seamen who work on barges or other maritime vessels. We also help family members of barge and tugboat workers who have lost their lives in explosions, fires, and other accidents. Whether you’re a dredging operation worker, deckhand, captain, crane barge worker, pilot, or other crew member, you can count on our knowledge of maritime law as it applies to your accident. At Arnold & Itkin, we’ve recovered billions for our clients and have represented crew and family members affected by the worst maritime disasters in history. We are here to help you.

What should I do if I was injured in a Tugboat or barge accident?

If you were involved in any type of accident while working on a barge or tugboat, get the medical care you need. You have the right to seek treatment from the doctor of your choosing, so pick the right medical facility and professional. Be sure to inform your employer of what occurred, but do not sign anything that excuses your employer from legal accountability or limits your financial recovery. Talk to an attorney about your rights in filing a Jones Act or other claim that applies to your situation, as this will help cover your medical bills, the cost of ongoing treatment, your lost earnings, loss of future income, and possibly more.

You deserve the chance to rebuild and move on with your life, and working with the best legal team can help you accomplish just that.

Can I sue for a barge or Tugboat injury?

Like any other maritime worker, barge and tugboat crews are protected under maritime law. There are numerous laws under which you may sue your employer or vessel owner, including the Jones Act. Our tugboat and barge accident lawyers are well-known Jones Act litigators; our familiarity with the law and what it takes to win a case has allowed us to get record-setting verdicts and settlements for our clients.

We've investigated causes of injury on barges and tugboats like:

  • Equipment failure
  • Crew negligence
  • Tow winch
  • Falling overboard
  • Handling heavy lines
  • Parted tow lines

Your claim will depend on a few factors, such as the extent of your injuries, where you were injured, and whether or not you're able to return to work eventually. Whatever the circumstances of your injury, it's important that you speak with a Houston barge accident lawyer as soon as possible. We offer free consultations to explain your legal and financial options, so consider calling today.

Speak with Our Texas Tugboat & Barge Injury Lawyers: (888) 493-1629

Our lawyers have spent our careers helping people get their lives back. We've won hundreds of results of $1 million or more, dozens of results of $10 million or more, and countless other results to do one thing: give injured or grieving people a second chance. When you've been injured through no fault of your own, the person who is at fault should pay for it. It's simple, straightforward justice. In the end, companies will do the right thing only if we make them. If you're wondering what you're going to do next, how you'll afford your medical care, how you'll pay for basic needs without being able to work, we have answers. More than that, we have a solution that could help you get everything you need to provide for your family and move forward. Call us for a free consultation.

Call (888) 493-1629 or contact us online!

Our firm proudly serves clients nationwide, including throughout Texas and the entire Gulf Coast, including Brownsville, Pasadena, McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, Weslaco, Rio Grande City, Hidalgo, Port Lavaca, Roma, and the surrounding areas. Call today to learn more about how we can help you.

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