According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the strength of the United States economy can be traced to barges. These vessels are responsible for transporting many of the goods on store shelves and natural resources. But moving such cargo comes at a risk.

Many maritime workers are seriously injured or killed every year while working on a barge. These injuries can range from something as minor as a sprain to as serious as a severed limb. Regardless of the injury, you should contact a maritime attorney if you or someone you love was injured or killed in a barge accident.

Barge Accident Lawyer in Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska

The legal system in our country allows victims of maritime accidents and their loved ones to seek compensation after a barge accident. If you’re a seaman you may be able to take legal action against your employer and longshoreman may be able to seek third party claims.

Contact BOATLAW, LLP to explore your options. Call 1-800-262-8529 to schedule a confidential consultation.  We have been representing injured maritime workers for over 40 years in Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska.

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Barge Accidents and Injuries

Barge accidents commonly take place near ports since this is where they usually sail. Many factors can contribute to a barge accident such as unsafe speeds, impaired coworkers, lack of safety training and poorly maintained equipment.

Listed below are common examples of barge accidents:

  • Colliding with another barge: Colliding into another barge or vessel is one of the most common barge accidents. As an employee on the barge, you are placing your hands in the safety of the captain. When the vessel collides with another boat or object, it can throw passengers onto the deck or into a bulkhead.
  • Fires: Barges are crucial to the oil and gas industry. One spark or small collision, and the oil and other explosive materials could go up in flames. Barges may be surrounded by water, but a fire aboard the vessel can cause severe injuries.
  • Wet surfaces: Working on a ship entails slippery surfaces and slip and fall accidents. Slipping on a wet surface can result in broken bones, back injuries and falling overboard.

Any accident sustained aboard a vessel, even a minor slip and fall, has the potential to cause devastating injuries. The types of injuries that can be sustained in a barge accident are endless, but some of the most common include:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Pinch-point injuries
  • Severed limbs
  • Chemical burns
  • Fire burns
  • Herniated discs

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Barge Safety Regulations

Employer and barge owners have a duty of care to their employees. They are required to abide by standards and regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure the working environment is safe.

The U.S Coast Guard is responsible for overseeing the fire and life-saving equipment such as:

  • Basic firefighting equipment
  • Approved life jackets and lifesaving equipment
  • Ventilation of fuel tank and engine bilges compartments

According to OSHA Safety and Health Regulations for barges, walking is prohibited along covered barges with coamings or cargo more than five feet tall, unless a walkway of three feet, a grab way or hand line is provided.

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How are Barge Accidents Compensated?

How your injuries are compensated depend on various factors such as the nature of the injuries, if the barge was on navigable waters and your duties upon the vessel. To be covered under the Jones Act, your injuries must have taken place on navigable waters such as an ocean, lake or river. This section of the act is open to interpretation and could include docked barges, as long as it’s still in the appropriate waters.

The Jones Act is a form of workers’ compensation for maritime workers, but it allows you to bring your employer to court and sue for damages such as mental anguish and pain and suffering.  You will be required to prove negligence played some part in your injuries. This negligence could have been from an employer, barge owner or crewmember.

You will be awarded maintenance and cure, which covers everyday expenses and medical cost. How much you recover will depend on the circumstance of the accident, the extent of the injuries and other factors.

Not all barges accidents are covered under the Jones Act. In some cases, a claim may need to be filed under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This act protects barge workers performing other duties that may not be covered under the Jones Act, such as repair and build work and loading or unloading cargo.

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Additional Resources for Barge Accidents

Deck Barge Safety | OHSA – Read through a guidebook provided by OSHA covering deck barge safety. You can gain access to information regarding slip and falls, fires and equipment hazards. OSHA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor responsible for workplace safety.

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act – Follow the link provided to learn more about the LHWCA. You can gain access to information about compensation for injuries where third parties are liable, discrimination of employee filing a claim and compensation for death.

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Barge Accident Admiralty Attorney in Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska

BOATLAW, LLP understands you are already dealing with a lot. But the person or entity whose negligence caused you or your loved one’s injuries should be held accountable. BOATLAW, LLP is a leading name in maritime law, and we will stop at nothing to ensure you receive maximum compensation.

Call 1-800-262-8529 to schedule a confidential consultation. BOATLAW, LLP advocates on behalf of injured maritime workers in Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska.

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