Much of the food and products Americans buy every day travel on barges before they get to the local stores on barges. Because of hardworking crew, store shelves and showroom floors always have something to sell and display. But, moving cargo on barges is dangerous business. Many workers are seriously injured, and even killed, every year. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a barge accident, you need to know your rights.
Types of Barge Accidents
There are two different types of barges. A small crew will man a powered barge. Tugboats typically move around unpowered barges. Barge accidents often involve not just the crew of the barge or tugboat, but longshoremen as well.
Common types of barge accidents include:
- Line handling
- Collisions with other barges
- Collisions with other vessels
- Collisions with docks or port equipment
- Hazardous Spills
Barge accidents often happen near a port because this is where barges are most often used. However, barges may travel long distances down some of America’s longer navigable rivers.
Causes of Barge Accidents
Most barge accidents are caused by human error. Even when a natural disaster causes a barge accident, mistakes often make the accident more dangerous. Some typical causes of barge accidents include:
- Lack of proper safety training
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Unsafe barges
- Distracted or impaired barge operator
- Unsafe speeds
- Unfamiliarity with the local hazards
- Creating lax safety environment
- Impaired coworkers
While many workers in the United States are covered by worker’s compensation, most barge workers are covered under the federal Jones Act. With worker’s compensation accidents your employer has to carry insurance that pays for your injury no matter who is at fault. But, if your employer was negligent you cannot recover pain and suffering.
In Jones Act cases, you are able to go after you employer for pain and suffering in addition to your medical expenses if your employer or coworker was negligent. It is important to understand the cause of the barge accident and if you are covered by worker’s compensation or the Jones Act. You need the help of an experienced maritime lawyer to evaluate your case and to help you get all of the compensation you are legally entitled to.
Even if you do not know the cause of the barge accident, a maritime lawyer may be able to help you discover who was at fault and how you got injured.
Types of Injuries
Working on a barge is tough, dangerous work. Every day you likely suffer a cut or bruise. However, sometimes your injuries are much more serious. Some common types of barge accident injuries are:
- Pinch-point injuries to your hands
- Crush injuries
- Fire burns
- Chemical burns
- Inhalation of toxic fumes
- Herniated discs
- Head and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Strains and sprains
Many injuries do not seem to require immediate medical attention. However, these can be just as serious. Brain and back injuries often don’t have any immediate symptoms. But, in the days, weeks, and even months after an accident, you may start to notice problems.
If you have been in a barge accident, even if you believe you are fine, you need to get medical exam within 48 hours. The sooner you are seen by your doctor the better chance you have at discovering any hidden injuries early. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you will recover.
Your first priority after an accident is to take care of your health.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt in a Barge Accident
If you have been involved in a barge accident you may only have a short window of time to make a claim for damages. While the first thing you need to do is seek medical help, the second thing you need to do is to find a tough, knowledgeable maritime accident lawyer to help you with your claim.
Maritime accident lawyers are different than regular personal injury lawyers. They understand how to deal with all of the special rules and different laws that govern injuries on and around the water.
A maritime injury lawyer will be able to figure out of you are covered by worker’s compensation of the Jones Act. They can help you collect evidence and file a claim with the right places. If your employer or insurance company won’t pay your claim, your lawyer will be able to take them to court.
When it comes to barge accidents there are several important deadlines. If you miss any of the deadlines, or make just one mistake in the filing of your claim, you could lose the ability to collect any damages from your accident forever. You owe it to yourself and family to make sure your claim is handled correctly.
We can help you find a maritime accident lawyer near you. Call us today so we can match you with the right lawyer for your case.