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Tugboat Accidents and How Maritime Laws Apply to Them

Though popular culture seems to adore tugboats and give them all kinds of cute and cuddly human characteristics, the realities are different. Tugboat work is some of the most challenging and dangerous imaginable. It is type of work that forces people to endure some of the most dangerous weather conditions, put themselves in positions where their vessel may collide with larger vessels, and to use winches and dangerously tense cables and lines. Each of these things can cause a serious accident and even lead to death.

This is why crews on tugboats know all about the proper safety standards they must follow, and yet accidents happen all of the time. (, 2013) When they do, they can result in a full loss of the vessel or they can just lead to minor injuries for a few crewmembers. In any incident, though, there can be an opportunity for those injured to pursue compensation. This is because maritime law specifically provides those who are the victims of accidents due to negligence with a means for requesting compensation.

Can I Ask for Compensation After a Tugboat Accident?

If you speak with people who work in the fishing industry, most agree that the winches they use are the worst threat. If you talk to cargo crews, many say that lines under duress become deadly and dangerous, and if you speak with anyone who works marine terminals, they all point out the hazards of ladders and decks. Surprisingly enough, each of these “worst” risks appears in the day-to-day life of a tugboat workers.

They may deal with heavy-duty winches that can easily malfunction and cause disaster. They must work with links and towlines that can snap and become deadly weapons. They must also work on slippery decks crowded with gear in some of the worst weather imaginable, and without being able to stay in dock, even when the weather is deemed too dangerous to travel. All of these things can lead to tugboat accidents, and yet there are many ways that the dangers of such moments can be reduced.

Federal safety standards from groups like OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard have been created to limit the amount of risk faced by any tugboat crew. Sadly, not all of these standards remain a priority to those who operate the vessels, own them, or hire the employees manning the craft. When safety standards are not maintained, it represents a clear-cut case of negligence, and this means that any injuries that result create liabilities.

Should you be injured or left disabled by a tugboat accident (or you are the surviving dependents of someone killed in an incident), the maritime laws indicate that you can and should pursue compensation. Negligence is not a fact of life for maritime workers; it is a direct breach of trust and responsibility, and it puts the person who was negligent in a position of liability to those injured or harmed because of it.

To pursue a claim, though, you must prove that negligence occurred, and this is when a maritime lawyer becomes your best resource and ally. A qualified lawyer is going to be able to speak with you about your case and determine how and when negligence played a role in the outcome. They will then be able to work with you to build a case and pursue compensation. Whether it was a poorly trained worker left unsupervised, a vessel owner who failed to have the equipment inspected and maintained, or an employer that somehow failed to meet safety standards, the laws are on your side. Don’t wait to claim the compensation that is yours under the laws.