Barges fill an essential role in the Mississippi River’s maritime industry, by ferrying cargo up and down America’s central waterway. Unfortunately, workers who help operate and maintain these barges can be susceptible to serious on-the-job injuries in a number of ways, especially if their employer fails to ensure they have safe conditions to work in.
If you suffered injury while working on one of these vessels, an Olive Branch barge accident lawyer can help you understand and take advantage of your legal options. Whether the best path towards recovery is a federal Jones Act claim or a lawsuit against a third party, an experienced maritime accident attorney like Elissa M. Coombs can provide the guidance and support you need to effectively seek a positive case outcome.
In recent years, multiple high-profile barge accidents have made national news and permanently altered the life of the workers involved in them. A collision between barges in 2019 forced a temporary shutdown of the Houston Ship Channel, and barge explosions in both 2017 and 2020 claimed multiple lives and caused serious injuries.
However, many more injuries occur on barges under less dramatic circumstances but still have devastating consequences for the parties involved. Workers can break bones by slipping or tripping on deck, suffer crush injuries due to equipment malfunctions or crew negligence, sustain burns and nerve damage from exposure to toxic chemicals, and potentially lose their lives in drowning accidents after falling or being knocked overboard.
Whatever specific harm stems from these kinds of incidents, the common thread through many of them was reckless or careless conduct by an employer, fellow crew member, or unaffiliated third party. If another party’s negligence leads to a barge worker suffering an on-the-job injury, an Olive Branch barge accident attorney can help them pursue financial compensation for their ensuing losses.
Unlike most workers on land, seamen who spend a significant portion of their working time out in navigable waters do not have access to standard workers’ compensation insurance. Instead, the federal Jones Act allows them to file suit directly against their employers for injuries sustained on the job, provided they can prove that some form of employer negligence contributed in any way to causing their injuries.
Because an employer only has to be slightly responsible for an accident to allow for a Jones Act claim, almost anything could potentially justify a recovery, from a lack of supervision on a barge to a failure to avoid hazardous weather conditions.
Additionally, those who make a claim using the Jones Act can recover for various forms of economic and non-economic damages, whereas standard workers’ comp claims only allow recovery for medical expenses and a certain percentage of lost wages. A barge accident lawyer in Olive Branch can clarify which forms of compensation may be recoverable in a particular situation and what the best way of pursuing restitution for them might be.
The aftermath of accidents on commercial barges can leave injured workers and their families struggling to make ends meet while they recover from their injuries and losses. If you want to avoid this kind of situation for your loved ones, filing a claim under the Jones Act with the assistance of Elissa M. Coombs may be your best course of action.
An Olive Branch barge accident lawyer can review your legal options and help you pursue a legal claim. To schedule an initial consultation, call the Law Office of David E. Gordon now.