Barges serve as a critical part of commercial maritime infrastructure, as are the people who work on barges. However, working on a barge in the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean, the Puget Sound or the Gulf of Alaska can be a dangerous job. Many barge workers are hurt in the process of doing their jobs as the result of the negligence of other crew, or because the barge they were on was not fit for the sea. Fortunately, those workers have the option of recovering for injuries under federal law.
If you work on a barge in the Pacific Northwest, you can seek compensation if injured while on the job. A dedicated Washington barge worker lawyer can help you obtain the recovery you deserve. At Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, we represent maritime employees who suffer damages due to negligent crew members or an unseaworthy vessel. Call us at 1 (800) 262-8529 to schedule a free consultation.
We represent barge workers in federal and state courts throughout the region, including Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Alaska.
The Jones Act covers any person who is a seaman on a vessel in navigation. It allows a person who has a substantial connection to a vessel and contribute to its mission to seek recovery for injuries suffered due to a lack of reasonable care by an employer.
Barges tend to work somewhat differently than most ships. Many barges are not self-propelled and depend upon tugboats to move. Some may have questions as to whether a barge constitutes a “vessel in navigation.”
Courts have used a broad interpretation of a vessel in navigation for the purposes of the Jones Act. In Stewart v. Dutra Construction Co., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a vessel could constitute any watercraft capable of being used as transportation on the water, citing 1 U.S.C. § 3.
A barge, regardless of whether self-propelled or not, is likely to be considered a vessel, particularly if it moves on occasion. This includes:
Jones Act employers, vessel owners, and the vessel in rem, owe barge workers various duties under the Jones Act and general maritime law.
Under the Jones Act, you can recover when your employer failed to act with reasonable care. The employer must implement procedures that ensure the safety of those working on board and ensure all employees are properly and sufficiently supervised. The employer has a duty to furnish you with a safe place to conduct your work.
Under the general maritime law, the vessel owner is responsible for ensuring that the barge is seaworthy, meaning it is reasonably fit for its intended purpose, whether that is carrying petroleum, timber, or riprap. There should be no design flaws, and the barge must be properly maintained. The barge’s crew must also be sufficient and qualified to work on the barge. Too few crewmembers may render the barge unseaworthy.
If the vessel operator failed to exercise reasonable care or the vessel was unseaworthy, and you were injured as a result, you could recover for your past and future medical bills, lost wages, lost ability to work and other human damages, like pain, suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life.
If you are a tankerman or other barge worker who was hurt due to the failure or neglect of your employer, contact a skilled attorney to fight for your rights. A dedicated Washington barge worker lawyer from Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski will help you seek the recovery you deserve if you were hurt due to negligence or unseaworthiness. Call us at 1 (800) 262-8529 to set up a consultation.
This website was designed for martime lawyers and was created solely for general information purposes. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal or medical advice. Only a maritime attorney or physician licensed to practice in your state can provide you with official guidance based on the specific details surrounding your situation.
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