Alton Illinois Barge Accident Lawyers

Alton Barge Accident Lawyers

Attorneys helping injured tugboat and barge workers in Illinois

Working on a barge has its perks. After weeks on the Mississippi River or Lake Michigan, tugboat and barge workers usually have long periods of rest on shore before heading back to work. After a few years on the job, maritime employees can secure handsome wages. Yet these benefits come at a cost. Simple mistakes can lead to catastrophic accidents quickly, resulting in massive medical bills and lost wages.

Crewmembers on barges and tugboats injured due to the negligence of others have the right to seek financial compensation for their damages. State and federal law involving these types of accidents, however, can be quite complex due to the intricacies of maritime legislation. It’s important to work with an Alton attorney with the right experience and understanding of FELA and the Jones Act. Talk to the legal team at Glisson Law today for the answers to all of your questions.

What is FELA?

Barge employees that sustain injuries are governed by a different body of law (FELA) than other injured workers. FELA stands for the Federal Employers Liability Act, which was passed more than 100 years ago to increase safety standards in the maritime industry. The Act also applies for railroad employees.

FELA provides a better remedy to injured maritime workers than most laborers receive. The majority are governed by regular workers’ compensation laws. Whenever a barge worker is injured or killed in the course of his or her employment, the barge company is liable for its negligence. Injuries on rivers and in lakes can be serious, and this is one of the reasons for this added protection.

Thanks in part to industry safety advancements enforced by FELA, working for maritime corporations is much safer than before, but the system is not perfect. Accidents still happen, and when they do, hazardous working conditions can lead to permanent injuries or even fatalities.

FELA offers great protections for employees who work on barges and railroads. In the past, when companies have attempted to finagle their way out of following industry standards and covering FELA liability, court cases such as Kelly v Southern Pacific Co (1974) have established that even sub-contracted employees should be covered by FELA laws. In short, maritime workers are much better positioned to secure the compensation to which they’re entitled than laborers of most trades, thanks to FELA.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act, also called the American Merchant Marine Act, is a federal law passed in 1920 to help injured seamen and women secure benefits after being injured on the job. Under the Jones Act, seamen who are injured while working on a vessel can receive compensation for their injuries. This includes damages for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. In order to recover these damages, a seaman must show that the injury was caused by the negligence or “unseaworthiness” of the vessel or its owners.

The Jones Act also allows injured workers to sue their employers directly, rather than being limited to workers' compensation benefits. Additionally, the Jones Act provides for something called “maintenance and cure,” which are daily payments to cover the injured worker’s living expenses and medical treatment until they maximum medical improvement.

Good To Know: “A barge is a large, very long, flat bottom vessel usually used to transport large or numerous things along inland waterways. This can be anything from shipping containers to passengers and even trash.” [Boat Safe]

What kind of injuries happen on barges and tugboats?

Barges, tow vessels, and tugboats can be hazardous working environments, and many accidents can occur on these vessels. Some common accidents and injuries include:

  • Slip and fall accidents, which can result from slippery surfaces, poor lighting, and other hazards on deck
  • Repetitive motion injuries, such as strains and sprains from repetitive manual labor
  • Burns, due to exposure to hot machinery, chemicals, or fuel
  • Drowning, due to capsizing or falling overboard
  • Back and neck injuries, resulting from heavy lifting or pulling
  • Machinery and equipment injuries, such as cuts and crush injuries from heavy machinery or being caught in winches and deck gear
  • Traumatic amputation, from crushing accidents with steel cables and heavy equipment
  • Illnesses related to exposure to hazardous substances, such as diesel fuel or chemicals used on the vessel
  • Hearing loss, due to exposure to excessive noise levels

This is, of course, only a partial list. Our FELA attorneys can work with your physicians to determine whether your injuries were caused by your work and prove this to the insurance companies and the court.

Who is liable for my barge accident claim?

Liability for your barge accident and injuries largely depends on the specific circumstances of the incident. We’ll launch an investigation into your case to determine all liable and responsible parties. However, in general, the following parties may be held liable for a barge accident:

  • Vessel owner: The owner of the barge can be held liable if the accident was caused by the vessel’s unseaworthiness, meaning that the barge was improperly equipped or maintained.
  • Vessel operator: The operator of the barge can be held liable if the accident was caused by negligence, such as failing to properly train crew members or maintain equipment.
  • Employer: If the injured person was working on the barge at the time of the accident, the employer may be held liable for the injury under the Jones Act.
  • Parts manufacturers: If the accident was caused by a defect in equipment, the parts manufacturer may be held liable.

Rest assured that our injury lawyers will pursue every avenue possible for compensation, including FELA and the Jones Act. We help everyone who works on a vessel – deckhands, first mates, mates, pilots, Captains, cooks, longshoremen and more.

How can your Alton barge accident attorneys help?

Navigating the FELA laws can be complicated. You must prove certain elements to win your case. A lawsuit filed against a barge company must show that the business was negligent, failing to take reasonable precautions in providing workplace safety or properly warning employees of danger. In short, injuries must be specifically linked to the company’s shortcomings. The barge injury attorneys at Glisson Law are deeply familiar with these laws, with 25 years of experience under our belts. Let us show you what we can do for you in a free consultation.

Glisson Law Team Members

Do you have a barge accident lawyer near me?

Glisson Law is located at 111 East Fourth Street, Suite 400, in Alton, IL. We’re a block away from City Hall, and you can find plenty of parking across the street. There’s also a bus stop right outside our office. Glisson Law conducts phone and video conferences when applicable, and makes home and hospital visits if you cannot travel to us.

Knowledgeable barge accident attorneys serving Alton and beyond

Our attorneys are experienced in all types of personal injury cases, including those involving barges and tugboats. Glisson Law has the resources and professional network to give you and your family confidence during a difficult time. As a result of continued success, past clients and attorneys regularly recommend injury victims to our firm. Call our offices or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We proudly serve Belleville, Edwardsville, St. Clair and Madison County, and all of Southwestern Illinois.