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Houston Tugboat Accident Injury Lawyer | Sneed|Mitchell LLP

Our Houston tugboat and barge maritime injury attorneys have specialized experience in helping deckhands, mates, engineers and captains who suffer injuries onboard. Accidents aboard these vessels often occur as deckhands and engineers are line-handling, parting lines, or when anyone aboard encounters hazards on boards, mechanical breakdowns, or vessel collision. The risk of injury on a harbor, river, or seagoing tug is even greater when the horsepower of a tug is combined with the weight of a towed container ship, oil rig, or barge.

At Sneed & Mitchell LLP, we litigate tug accidents cases in Houston, throughout Texas, and across the Gulf Coast. If you or a loved one is was injured aboard a tugboat, you need an experienced at litigating admiralty claims. Our Maritime Lawyers have recovered millions for Texas clients injured while aboard a tug or during towing operations and even assist in Louisiana. Call us today at (866)434-0014, or fill our contact firm and a lawyer will call you now. Visit our Offshore Information Center for additional insight into these complex injury claims.

tugboat accident injury lawyer houston texas

Our Experience Makes Us Uniquely Qualified to Handle Tug & Tow Accidents

Our founding Partner, Niles Sneed, has sailed the waters from the Gulf Coast of Texas through South America and comes from a lineage of U.S. Navy Seaman and offshore workers.

Niles understands what's involved in your handling of disabled ships, rafts, and platforms twice as large in size or bigger – lending itself to higher risk for injury and swiftly can detect the negligence and unseaworthiness aboard the vessel. Sneed & Mitchell has recovered millions for crew members thrown against a bulkhead in a tug and barge collision or a deckhands whose suffering crush injuries from hatch covers during sea voyage.

Based upon our practical experience and legal expertise, you could not be in better hands. Our law firm is highly qualified to help injured barge and tugboat workers obtain compensation for their work-related injuries and we will aggressively and smartly pursue your maritime civil case. Contact our tugboat injury lawyers today for a no-obligation consultation. An as always, our clients owe us nothing until we are victories on your behalf.

TugBoats Have A Unique Transport Ability

Tugboats (or tug and tow combinations) extensively maneuver and push larger vessels transporting petrochemicals throughout Texas and the Gulf Coast, inland waterways and other navigable waters. Some The guided ships either should not move themselves, such as those in congested harbors or waterways, or are ships that cannot move themselves, such as barges, petroleum platforms, or vessels experiencing mechanical difficulties. Though small in size when compared to other seagoing vessels, tugboats are higher in horsepower and designed for the task of ship transport which is why they often serve as icebreakers or salvage boats. Early tugboats were steam powered, but today most have diesel engines.

Our Maritime Lawyers Understand The Dangers Aboard

Crewmen aboard tugboats work in one of the most dangerous occupational environments. Beyond a high rate of drownings from workers falling overboard, or crushing injuries due to shifting equipment, pushing and pulling vessels subjects workers to heightened levels of danger.

The towing ability requires a system of cables and hydraulic winches that pose particular dangers of crew being entangled in wires while the wires are in motion or by the parts attached to the lines. Furthermore, towing equipment maximizes deck space which places crewman in tight and threatening situations. The level of danger significantly increases as owners, supervisors, or fellow crewman, fail to comply with safety measure; common situations include:

  • Tow winch failures resulting from overloaded, or worn lines;

  • Injury resulting from vessels frequently being undermanned;

  • Failure to apply non-skid protection the vessel decks and stairways;

  • Poorly maintained decks that cause sliding cargo or slippery/ icy surfaces;

  • Lifting injuries as employees are asked to haul and carry heavy items unsafe to move without extra men or mechanical assistance;

Our tugboat injury lawyers hire industry leading case experts to strengthen your claim.

Meeting The "Seaman" Qualification To Bring An Injury Claim

Negligent actions that result in injury aboard a tugboat, whether stemming from the company or its crew, can be covered under the Jones Act, which provides compensation for seaman injured as a result of negligence, or the vessel being in a condition not reasonably fit for its intended use (legally titled, “unseaworthiness”). To be considered a “seaman” under this Act, an employee must spend a substantial part of their time employed as a crew on a vessel capable being used on navigable waters, which are waterways used for business or transportation.

Under this act, seaman can pursue damages for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, retraining, disability, pain and suffering, reduced earning capacity, and other specified damages.

What Type Of Injuries Do Jones Act Seaman Suffer?

Whether traveling in open waters, the inter-coastal waterway, a port, or docked, severe injuries to tugboat seaman can occur both on an off the clock. Injuries occur dur to the negligence of the tug boat company, supervisor, crewmembers, or third party operators and entitle the seaman to compensation under the Jones Act. The following are a few of the common personal injuries suffered in tug and barge accidents:

Amputations - Amputation is the loss of a body part, typically an appendage or extremity such as a finger, hand, arm, toe, foot or leg. Amputations can occur when seaman are handling lines and shackles, dealing with faulty equipment, or a using a failing tow winch.

Crush Injuries - Crush injuries happen when a part of the body is squeezed between two objects. This catastrophic condition often happens during vessel collisions crushed between barges or when there are mechanical breakdowns.

Eye Injuries - Ocular trauma aboard a vessel can include object penetrations, blunt trauma, corneal abrasions, retinal hemorrhages, blindness, and orbital floor fractures. From fall injuries to chemical burns, a seaman can often suffer vision loss and eye injuries.

Head Injuries - General crew aboard a tug can suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) causing long-term cognitive and neurological functions from slip and falls, falls aboard, unsafe use of tools and many additionally hazardous situations. Other complications stemming from impact the head include concussions, internal bruising, "locked-in" syndrome, blood vessel damage, and memorial issues.

Paralysis/ Paralyzed - Tug boat experience spinal cord injuries causing a permanent loss or impaired function.

Rotator Cuff Injuries - Shoulder injuries can stem from a multitude of accidents aboard, including slipping and falling, improper line training, equipment crashing into the shoulder area, winches jerking and pulling the arms and shoulders. These accidents can cause tendon tears, dislocation, damaged collarbone, bursitis, and shoulder instability.

Scarring & Disfigurement - According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), hypothermia and frostbite are major risks to maritime workers that fall overboard or are working on increment weather conditions. Symptoms of hypothermia occur when the body reaches 89 degrees Fahrenheit and can be mild, moderate, or profound.

Hypothermia - According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), hypothermia and frostbite are major risks to maritime workers that fall overboard or are working on increment weather conditions. Symptoms of hypothermia occur when the body reaches 89 degrees Fahrenheit and can be mild, moderate, or profound.

Spinal Cord Injuries - Injuries to the spinal cord column from brain stem trauma near the cerebral cortex, to bulging disks at the base the vertebrae. Approximately 12,000 people suffer spinal cord injuries every year in the U.S., and 250,000 are currently living with the type of injury. Spinal trauma causes paralysis, edema, difficulty breathing, reproductive dysfunction or loss of muscle tone.

After experiencing an injury while offshore, emergency medical treatment is necessary to prevent worsening of your physical condition due to continued strenuous use. A physical examination often includes x-rays, arthroscopy, and CT Scans, and MRI's, depending on what the physician determines is the best course of treatment.

What Are Maritime and Offshore Repetitive Use Injuries?

Repetitive use injuries, or "repetitive motion disorder are medical conditions that occur due to a constant exertion of force from repeated work tasks. As an example, a deckhand handling heavy wires or towing tackles for the vessel tug without proper assistance can suffer nerve damage, chronic pain syndrome, numbness, or tendon tears.

The parts of the body most commonly impacted by this medical issue the are shoulders, elbows, and wrist. Other areas include the back, neck, hip, legs, feet, and ankles. The most common treatment for injuries cause by over-strenuous or continues use actions is physical therapy or pain management. Personal injury settlements related to a tugboat operators repetitive use injury greatly range but can also exceed $1,000,000 if the debilitating greatly hinders a workers ability to return offshore.

Recovery Options For Deckhands, Mates, Engineers & Captains

The Jones Act or the Longshore Act and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provide the primary remedies for maritime workers injured onboard tug and barge combinations. These are specialized maritime laws that require knowledgeable legal representation from an attorney that handles tugboat injuries.

Those injured may also point to general maritime law to bring strict products liability lawsuits for injuries caused by defective equipment on a vessel, or personal injury lawsuits against an employer or vessel owner. Under this common law theory of liability, the family members of any person who dies at sea can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Tugboat Injury Lawyers Of Sneed & Mitchell LLP Offer Specialized Assistance

Tugboat lawsuits are complex because there are industry standards and Federal guidelines specifically tailored to proper operation of these vessels. When a person is injured and it involves this type of vessel, it is important to find a litigation firm accustomed to the safety regulations regarding all aspect of tugboats, including but not limited to the; confined spaces, safe use of winches, deck responsibilities, proper line handling procedures, inspection requirements, and safety mechanism standards.

If you or someone in your family has suffered injury resulting from the use or operation of a tugboat or tug and tow combination, contact the Houston maritime specialists at Sneed & Mitchell LLP online or call (866)434-0014 to request a consultation today. Our law firm also handling each case on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing to start your recovery and pay no attorneys fees until the case is successfully resolved.


Learn More About How We Can Help You

  • Basket Transfer

  • Boat Accidents

  • Commercial Diving

  • Barge Incidents

  • Cruise Ship Wrecks

  • Dive Boats

  • Harbor Workers

  • Jack-Up and Oil Rig Cases

  • Jones Act Claims

  • Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

  • Maritime Law

  • Maritime Piracy

  • Maritime Workers in Foreign Waters

  • Offshore and Admiralty

  • Rights of Longshoremen

  • Your Medical Rights


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Jordan Still033-Edit- WEB VERSION Chris
Personal Injury Case Manager
Personal Injury Receptionist
Attorney Niles Sneed - Personal Injury Lawyer
Attorney Brit Mitchell - Personal Injury Lawye




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August 2023


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