Tugboat Accidents in Texas

Mariners face the risk of tugboat accidents in Texas and other injuries due to the nature of work. Deadly offshore and port incidents occur more often as stated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Accordingly, the incidence rate for maritime fatal injuries is five times higher than in other occupations.

The tugboat is vital for the state’s waterway trade sector. In fact, Texas is the second largest water-commerce-based state in the US. Over 49,000 barge transits go back and forth to the Port of Houston yearly. Consequently, more tug trips can mean an increased risk of accidents for maritime workers.

If you or a loved one met with an accident aboard a tugboat, you can reach out to O’Bryan Law for help. We have the most experienced maritime injury attorneys to assist you with legal matters promptly.

tugboat accidents in Texas

Common causes of tugboat accidents in Texas

A tugboat or tug is a maritime vessel that plays a crucial role in waterway commerce. Generally, this specialized boat pushes or tows other vessels like barges or rigs. It helps to transport goods or steer stranded ships. With these heavy-duty tasks, it’s no surprise that tugboat accidents in Texas are ever present.


Several accidents involving a tug can be blamed for collisions. It is the result of a poorly maintained navigation system or unskilled personnel on the bridge. This incident does not only refer to two tugboats crashing. A tug can also collide with other vessels and docks.

A relatively small tug will likely pull barges several times its size. The pilot needs to pay attention to balancing the center of gravity between the hawser and the barge. Even the tiniest mistake in the calculation may cause the hawser to fail, leading the tug and barge astray.

Metal lines snapping

Typically, hawser lines have a metal construction rather than rope to steer heavier loads. However, this material is prone to snapping, especially when there’s too much pressure. Maritime workers can sustain a fatal injury if they get exposed to the snap back portion of the boat. It can happen due to the force and tension of the hawser recoiling.

Additionally, winches can break and cause bodily harm to anyone handling it. The severity of the wound or fracture largely depends on the point of impact.


There are times when barges or rigs need to transition from one vessel to another. It’s a job best handled by experienced seafarers. However, it can become problematic under certain factors. For one, extreme weather such as a storm can cause workers to slip and fall overboard, resulting in injuries.

Understaffing is also a serious problem that may lead to tugboat accidents in Texas. With an already demanding work environment, mariners can suffer from fatigue if they are overworked. This condition makes them more vulnerable to incidents while transitioning vessels.

Mechanical failures

Tugboats are smaller than other vessels, but they carry heavy equipment like the rest of marine transportation vehicles. These complex machineries can break down at any moment. Ladders can break or the tug can lose power in the middle of operations, which harms the workers onboard.

Defective equipment is often the consequence of owners skimping on spare parts for equipment. Choosing low-quality pieces can ultimately sabotage the safety of every tug worker. These substandard materials may snap or break easily, leaving mariners injured.

Examples of tugboat-related injuries

Tug injuries sustained offshore or on docks commonly arise from negligence or an unseaworthy vessel. In such cases, victims have the right to file a claim under federal laws. Here are the typical injuries a tugboat worker can suffer from on or off the clock.

Crush injuries

A crush injury happens when any part of your body gets squeezed between equipment or other objects. Often, this accident results from a collision between barges. It can also happen when mechanical equipment breaks down.


Some maritime employees can lose parts of their body due to work-related accidents. In most amputation cases, the crew member loses an extremity or appendage like a leg, foot, arm, hand, or finger. This incident can take place if the tow winch or any equipment fails.

Head injuries

Simple slip and fall tugboat accidents in Texas may result in chronic injuries like head trauma. The victim can suffer from a concussion or internal bruising, which can lead to serious conditions. Traumatic brain injuries or TBIs may cause neurological or cognitive damage, potentially debilitating the injured for life.

Spinal cord injuries

Once crew members sustain spinal cord injuries, they may have to deal with it for a lifetime. This condition is due to brain stem trauma or bulging disks that are probable outcomes of repetitive tasks. In some cases, this problem leads to muscle atrophy, reproductive dysfunction, and even paralysis.

Shoulder injuries

Winches are the simplest yet most hazardous equipment on a tugboat. They can jerk and pull, which puts a strain on your arm and shoulder. A lot of issues occur as a consequence, such as collarbone damage, dislocation, tendon tears, bursitis, and more.

Eye injuries

Accidents on a tugboat can also cause eye trauma such as fractures and hemorrhages. Seafarers can also fall victim to chemical burns and fall injuries that injure the ocular area. Some of these incidents can ultimately lead to blindness, which may end your career in an instant.


Cuts or wounds resulting from tugboat accidents in Texas can leave lifelong scars on the body. The worst incidents may disfigure your body permanently. Not only can this affect you physically but may also negatively impact your mental and emotional state.


Frostbite and hypothermia are a risk for maritime workers according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Hypothermia can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. It’s a common incident for tugboat workers braving extreme weather conditions at sea.

Compensation for tugboat accidents in Texas

There are several laws that protect a mariner’s rights if they get injured onboard. The Jones Act works similarly to the worker’s compensation guidelines of the state. It covers captains, engineers, and other crew members who meet with an accident at work. This law allows the victim to maintain a stable financial situation despite their situation.

This compensation can include missed wages, expenses for treatment and recovery, and allowance for lodging and daily life. If the accident is found to arise from negligence, the victim can claim additional payment for damages.

To ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries, you need the help of a maritime injury lawyer. They can handle your case and ensure that you get the right amount of money you deserve. Tugboat accident attorneys offer the best legal representation that can turn the case in your favor.

Hire O’Bryan Law tugboat injury lawyers

Our professionals at O’Bryan Law are more than ready to assist you in securing your evidence and filing the claim. We have won various maritime cases for injured mariners in Texas and other states. If you or a family member fell victim to a tugboat incident, you can ring us for a consultation.

You can also trust our representatives to answer your queries and provide legal options fit for your situation. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via call or our web contact form. We’re always here for you!