What to Do after Suffering Injuries from a Tugboat Accident along the Mississippi

If you work in a tugboat, you must certainly have been aware of the huge responsibility and the potential dangers that come with this job before you signed up. The boat that you are operating might not be very big but the barges being pulled are massive, and there are usually more than one in tow at a time. There are also frequent situations where tugs function as rescue boats in the event of a maritime accident. They also sometimes play a role in construction work.

In any of these applications, tug crew members are exposed to a significant amount

Tugboat and barge accidents are not a rare occurrence in the Mississippi River. Find out how a maritime accident lawyer can help you in case you find yourself a victim of these accidents.

of danger because of the regular use of heavy machinery and complex equipment. The risk is even greater than if you are in a larger vessel with the same equipment because, in a tug, all these machines are constricted within a very limited amount of space.

Tugboat and barge accidents

What Kinds of Inherent Risks Do Tugboat Workers Face?

Tugboat workers face pretty much the same risks as any other maritime worker, like slips on the deck, drowning, fire, collisions, and so on. However, the relatively smaller size of tugboats make them more vulnerable in the water than bigger vessels. In turbulent river conditions, a tugboat will be at the mercy of the waves, bobbing up and down on the water with extremely slippery deck floors. This drastically increases the risks of injuries that tugboat workers have to deal with.

Also, the size of the tugboat makes it quite defenseless in the face of a collision with a larger ship. It might not be in the line of sight of the ship, and it won’t be able to outpace the ship either because it has a smaller engine.

What Are the Common Accidents That Befall Tugboats?


A collision can happen for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. It can stem from improper navigation, poor decision making, faulty equipment, and so on. Tugboats can collide with other boats in the river but it is just as likely that they can crash into bridge pilings, docks or pier columns. Regardless of the nature of the collision, it can lead to serious injuries for everyone onboard. More violent incidents can even throw crew members overboard, resulting in drowning.

Slips and Falls

All boats present the risk for slips and falls because of the wet flooring, which is why the law requires all vessels to have a nonskid deck surface to prevent accidents. Nevertheless, no precautionary measure can completely eliminate the risk of these accidents, especially during particularly rough weather.

Mechanical Malfunction

Snap-back injuries are among the most common accidents on tugboats due to faulty equipment. This happens when the towing mechanism used for hauling barges breaks, causing serious injuries to the crew member operating the equipment. Other kinds of mechanical malfunctions can be due to engine failure.


A tugboat might capsize due to rough weather, leaking and flooding of the boat, or girting. This is when the tugboat gets pulled down by the barge that they are pulling. Capsizing is one of the more serious risks that tugboat workers face because it can be fatal.

What Are the Legal Actions to Take in the Event of a Tugboat Accident?

One of the first things you need to do in case you get involved in a tug or barge accident is to hire a lawyer to represent your case when you make a claim. There are many possible causes of tugboat accidents. The specific course of action that you will have to take in case of an injury will depend largely on the cause of the accident. However, regardless of the reason behind the accident, what’s clear is that as a tugboat crew member, you have every right to seek financial compensation for any injuries or damages that you have sustained.

Receiving compensation will certainly not undo the damages but it can help you manage the costs for any necessary medical treatments. It can also tide you over in terms of finances for the period that you are not able to earn an income due to your injuries.

What Kind of Lawyer Should I Hire When I File for Compensation?

Technically speaking, any lawyer can represent you if you do decide to claim damages. But only a qualified maritime accident lawyer with expertise in maritime law will give you the best chance of getting maximum compensation. These lawyers have in-depth knowledge in matters like the Jones Act and all the statutes of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 and other laws that pertain to inland waterway safety.

Furthermore, you would want to hire a lawyer that is highly experienced in handling similar cases in the location where the accident has taken place. For instance, if the tug or barge accident happened near New Orleans which is a major port city of the Mississippi, you will need the services of a Louisiana maritime accident lawyer.

How Do I File for Compensation for a Maritime Injury?

All you really need to do is to find a qualified tugboat and barge accident lawyer and they will be able to help you throughout the entire process. Here at O’Bryan Law, our maritime attorneys will make sure that you get no less than the full compensation that you deserve for all the injuries that you have sustained.

No matter what the extent of your tugboat injury, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. Whether it is just a simple sprain due to slipping on the wet deck or a traumatic brain injury due to equipment malfunction, we are here to help you get just compensation. Just call us so we can prepare a recovery strategy for you as soon as possible.