You might think something as big, heavy, and slow-moving as a barge would pose a relatively minor risk to its crew and the crews of other boats, but this is not necessarily the case. Once the primary means of river transport in the United States, barges are now mostly used for shipping cheap, bulk merchandise down the nation’s rivers and canals (since barges are by far the cheapest alternative for marine transport). Some small barges are self-powered, but bigger barges need to pulled, or pushed, by teams of tugboats. This isn’t a small task; a fully loaded barge can weigh over 500 tons!
The fact is that, compared to other modes of marine transport, barges are relatively safe. That said, there are two main ways in which a dockworker or crew member can be injured on, or by, a barge. First, the barge needs to be loaded and unloaded by longshoremen; hoisting and maneuvering multi-ton shipping containers can be a very hazardous job. Second, it’s not uncommon for tugboat crews to be injured while towing barges, either due to collisions with the barge itself or mishaps when sailors hop on the barge to secure it to the tug.
If you were injured, or someone you love was killed in a barge accident, we can help. We represent clients throughout California and Hawaii who are accident victims of all types of barges, including, but not limited to:
If you or a loved one has been injured in a barge accident, the Jones Act entitles you to collect damages from the ship’s owner, its captain, or even from other crew members, if their recklessness or negligence can be shown to have contributed to the mishap. At the very least, your medical bills and living expenses should be covered while you recuperate from your injuries; in the worst cases, you may be entitled to recover significant damages — a reckless decision on the part of the barge’s captain, for example, or proof of hazardous conditions in the barge itself, such as improperly stored or secured toxic chemicals.