Tugboat Accidents

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Reputable Tugboat Accident Lawyer Serving New Orleans Residents

Tugboats can be divided into three types – ocean-going tugboats, harbor tugboats, and river tugboats. Tugs are small but strong because they are used to:

  • pull barges and container ships through narrow waterways such as ports or rivers;
  • tow non-self-propelled equipment such as oil rigs; and
  • rescue disabled ships at sea.

tugboatSome people think of tugboats as “cute.” The people who work on them, however, experience a different reality. Tugboat work is some of the most dangerous work around, and the accident rate is distressingly high. Even fatal accidents are not uncommon. Fortunately, compensation is often available under federal maritime law.

How Tugboat Accidents Happen

There may be hundreds of ways that an accident can happen on a tugboat. Most accidents, however, arise from one of the following five causes:

  • Capsizing
  • Equipment failures (winch, cable, and line failures are the most dangerous)
  • Slick deck surfaces
  • Inadequate safety equipment
  • Collisions with larger vessels

Winning Compensation

The Jones Act entitles injured parties to compensation for tugboat accidents if their employer or the vessel owner was negligent. The negligence doesn’t have to be a substantial cause of the accident – it just needs to play a small role. This can make it easier to win a Jones Act claim than an ordinary personal injury claim.

The most common way to prove negligence in a tugboat accident is to establish that the defendant violated a safety regulation. The operation of tugboats are governed by U.S. Coast Guard regulations and OSHA regulations. Attorney Tom Shlosman is intimately familiar with these regulations due to his extensive experience handling maritime personal injury claims.

Client Testimonial

I was seriously injured while working on a tugboat on the Mississippi River. From my initial contact with Tom, he gave my family and I confidence that he and his firm could handle the case. The defense attorney’s put up a hard fight, but they were no match for Tom and his team. I strongly recommend Tom and the Shlosman Law Firm in any type of maritime case. — Aaron O.

My Other Areas of Practice

My practice is not limited to maritime law claims. I also handle cases involving:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I determine if the Jones Act applies to my claim?



You will need an experienced maritime lawyer to make a conclusive determination. The following legal terms apply, however:



  • Were you injured on a “Jones Act vessel”? For the Jones Act to apply, the vessel must be American-owned.

  • Do you qualify as a “Jones Act seaman”? A Jones Act seaman is an employee who spends a significant amount of his time working on a Jones Act vessel, and who is employed by a particular vessel or fleet of vessels.


What kinds of damages can I collect for a Jones Act tugboat accident?



The following types of damages are commonly awarded:



  • “Maintenance and cure” (food, lodging and medical expenses)

  • Pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, or other non-economic damages

  • Lost earnings


If the accident was fatal, survivors might be able to collect wrongful death damages.

Should I agree to see the company doctor?



No. Once a tugboat accident claim arises, the company doctor becomes the opposing party. You are under no obligation to see the company doctor.

What should I do if I can't afford a lawyer?



You don’t need a penny to retain me. I offer free initial consultations, and if your claim is strong, you won’t owe me anything at all – until and unless you receive compensation. My fees are calculated as a percentage of your recovery, so that you don’t pay unless you win.

Experience in Personal Injury Claims Is Not the Same as Experience in Maritime Claims

Most personal injury claims are governed by state tort law or workers compensation law. Maritime claims, on the other hand, are governed primarily by federal law that is specific to maritime claims. This means that a personal injury attorney who does not have expertise in maritime law should not be handling a maritime claim, because they do not operate under the same set of laws. Fortunately, I enjoy years of experience handling maritime claims, so I have the experience you need.

I am also licensed to practice before the following courts:

  • The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • The federal courts of the Eastern, Western and Middle Districts of Louisiana
  • The Louisiana Supreme Court
  • All lower Louisiana state courts

Victim of a Tugboat Accident? Time Is of the Essence – Act Quickly to Protect Your Rights

Since a maritime claim can grow stale over time as evidence deteriorates, it is best not to wait until the statute of limitations deadline is looming to begin preparing your New Orleans tugboat accident claim. You need to act quickly. For a free initial case consultation, fill out my online contact form, call me at (504) 826-9427, or email me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.