Dredging is a dangerous but necessary job in the maritime industry, and dredge accidents happen very often in shallow waters near the shore. Even if you are within state boundaries, dredge worker injuries can sometimes be litigated and covered under maritime law. This is because of the sheer importance of dredgers in maintaining shipping lanes, waterways, and sea channels in busy ports.
Dredging is an essential job, especially in heavily trafficked waterways. Ships of every size can unsettle the floor of the sea, kicking up debris, sediment, loose gravel, and sand that can accumulate and turn once-deep channels into shallow dangers that can result in disastrous boating accidents. Dredge workers remove this sediment and keep shipping lanes safe for larger vessels.
It all too often seems that when maritime workers suffer a personal injury requiring medical attention, insurance companies go out of their way to avoid paying. That is where a personal injury lawyer dealing with maritime accidents comes into the picture.
If you’ve been hurt in a dredging accident, whether at sea or near shore, you deserve fair compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, and serious injuries from broken bones to traumatic brain injury. Call the maritime injury lawyers at Montagna Maritime Law firm today at 877-622-8100 or use our easy online contact form for a free consultation with an experienced maritime lawyer about your case today.
Where Do Dredge Accidents Frequently Occur?
Dredging accidents usually occur in coastal areas where heavy sediment and debris deposits are located and need to be removed. These areas, including in Maryland, see plenty of dredging activities. Such accidents can also occur in areas with large rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Dredging accidents and other forms of offshore injuries are quite common and are as much of a danger to dredge workers as auto accidents and truck accidents are to workers on the road.
A Brief History of Dredge Accidents: The Waymon Boyd
The most well-known dredge accident in history happened in Corpus Christi, TX. This accident, the Waymon Boyd accident, resulted in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issuing 10 safety recommendations after a dredger struck a 16-inch submerged pipeline carrying propane. The result was a geyser of propane gas and water erupting next to the vessel, followed by a massive explosion that damaged the vessel and the shoreline.
Eighteen people were working on or near the dredge and assist vessels. Three Waymon Boyd crewmembers died right there, along with a crewmember on an anchor barge adjacent to the dredge. A fifth died from injuries later. Five others suffered serious injuries. The vessel itself was a total loss, and damages between the vessel and the pipeline totaled nearly $12 million.
An NTSB investigation determined that the probable cause was inadequate planning and risk management. It declared that the marine group responsible should have identified the pipeline and avoided it or had effective controls in place to prevent the cutterhead from severing the pipe. Additionally, the investigation found that the consulting firm that provided plans offered deficient, inaccurate, and incomplete information, which contributed to the insufficient methods used.
While we, of course, hope that nobody is injured in a dredging accident, it does happen more often than it should, and it can lead to serious injuries for Maryland seamen. We offer caring and experienced representation for those injured.
What Are the Types of Dredgers?
There are roughly seven different types of dredgers, and all use some sort of heavy machinery to accomplish their tasks. Each carries its own risks of accidents.
Backhoe or Dipper Dredgers
A backhoe or dipper dredger uses a single large digging bucket often mounted on a pontoon. It works similarly to other types of dredgers, scooping up mud, debris, and sediment.
These types of dredgers are used to level out seafloors that are uneven. They consist of a blade or straight bar that is scraped across the seabed. They work much like an aquatic version of a bulldozer.
Bucket dredgers use giant buckets circulating on chains or wheels. These buckets scoop debris off the bottom of the seafloor to dispose of it elsewhere and clear sea lanes for ships to pass safely.
Clamshell dredgers use a sort of bucket that resembles its namesake, hung from a crane. These types of dredgers are used in bays where the mud on the water floor can be soft, thick, and deep. They dig it out to make the sea lanes deeper for large vessels.
Snagboats are often used in rivers. These riverboats are fitted with cranes mounted on their decks. They are designed to remove big debris from the water, like trees, logs, or other large-sized objects that pose a risk to boats.
Suction or Vacuum Dredgers
Many different types of dredgers exist that fall into this category. What they all have in common is that they use a long tube to suck sediment off of the seafloor and remove it to keep channels clear.
Finally, some dredges are used in fishing operations. Rather than removing sediment to protect the waterways, they use a large scoop of metal mesh that is dragged along the seabed and collects shellfish.
Common Types of Dredge Accidents in Maryland
Dredgers are ships that are designed to excavate undersea areas and remove marine sediment. Such vessels come in many types, but regardless of the type, they are fitted with heavy machinery and equipment, including digging systems, cranes, and sediment suction gear. Many boating accidents involving dredgers are directly related to the failure of equipment or operational error using it.
Personal injury cases related to maritime accidents can take many forms.
Heavy Machinery Dredging Accidents
Any time you work a job using heavy machinery, you take on inherent risks. Cranes can malfunction, dropping payloads that can cause serious damage to property or severe personal injury. Undersea dredging equipment can sometimes suffer catastrophic malfunctions, leading to major accidents.
Communication may be even more important for dredgers than other types of maritime workers. If crew members operating an auger or crane do not receive clear instructions, they could cause their machinery to collide with another vessel or structure, or they could lift an unsecured payload, causing a catastrophic incident. Dredgers, as a result, use very strict protocols for communication and safety checks.
Undersea Boating Accidents and Collisions
Because dredging takes place underwater in conditions that are often murky due to loose sediment in the waters, it can be difficult to track where you are. Often, this can result in severe undersea collisions resulting in catastrophic injuries. Dredgers may also be involved in construction, which can result in different types of collisions and boating incidents that can be devastating.
One of the most common types of injury on a naval vessel is a slip and fall case. When you fall on deck, the personal injury cases and medical care required can be bad enough; when a worker falls overboard, the injuries can be unthinkable.
Personal Injuries From Maryland Dredging Accidents
After a dredging accident, the victim may experience a wide range of injuries. These can be life-altering and even life-threatening. This is why safety protocols and training are so vital to this job, as is emergency training. Some of the most common severe injuries suffered by dredge workers can include (but may not be limited to):
- Loss of limbs
- Crushing injuries from falling debris or failing machinery
- Concussions and traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones and other injuries from falling overboard
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Loss of a loved one through wrongful death
Any or all of these types of accidents can require immediate medical attention as well as create years of medical bills. It is essential to know your rights, and a maritime accident lawyer can be the answer to your needs.
What Are My Rights After a Dredge Accident in Maryland?
Because dredge accidents often happen just offshore, and not in international waters, many dredgers and crew members may be uncertain as to what exactly their rights are. The truth is, dredge accidents are usually covered under maritime law, and you need a maritime law firm to handle your case. These types of personal injury claims are not the same as an auto accident, and a typical car accident lawyer cannot help you in this instance. You need law offices focused on maritime law and dredging accidents to help.
Maritime law is different from other types of injury law because it makes a distinction between accidents caused by negligence, poor training, malfeasance, and other factors. The law does not consider the inherent risks of the job when determining the rights of an injured party. Insurance companies can muddy the waters further because they often will try many tactics to reduce or avoid settlements overall.
Were You a Victim of an Offshore Dredging Accident?
If you have been involved in a dredging accident, you don’t have to face it alone, and you do have rights. It’s important to contact knowledgeable maritime law offices with years of experience to explore your legal options. The first thing you should do after an accident is report it to your supervisor and seek medical attention. This is important for your health and safety, and it protects your personal interests in the case. Getting medical attention is critical to prove that your injuries happened on the job and were serious from the start.
You have rights. The Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling in 2015 that dredge accidents fall under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act as well as the Jones Act. You need experienced help, however, to understand where your case falls. A maritime law personal injury lawyer at Montagna Maritime Law is ready to listen to your case. Contact us at 877-622-8100 or use our online contact form to ask about a free consultation today.
What Is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is one of the primary laws that governs how the United States adheres to international maritime law. It guarantees that injured seamen are entitled to certain rights and compensation even if no fault is assigned for a dredging accident. It’s vital, however, that you file your case immediately because most accidents have a statute of limitations, and the sooner you file, the better off you will be.
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for personal injury is three years. While this may not apply to your specific accident, the Uniform Statute of Limitations for Maritime Torts is also three years for injury or wrongful death claims. Many people think that’s a long time, but be aware that the longer you take to file, the more ammunition the insurance company will build to use against you.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies almost never consider the victims in their cases. They will do anything to avoid paying your injury claim, from undermining how serious your injuries are to even blaming you for the accident. They’ll reach out and pretend to be compassionate, but in actuality, they are looking for information that they can use against you. They will encourage you to sign off on payouts that won’t begin to cover your medical expenses, and if you do, you could lose your right to sue.
That’s why it’s so important to speak with a maritime injury law attorney immediately after your accident. Never sign anything without input from your attorney. You might waive your right to a jury trial for an increased amount of compensation. Your attorney is your ally. They care about you and what you have suffered. They also know how to fight for your rights and can advocate for you while you focus on the vital task of recovering from your injury and putting your life back together.
Many people don’t realize that you don’t even have to talk to your insurance company. After you file your claim when they come calling, simply direct them to speak to your attorney. Let us take on the hard part of fighting with insurance companies while you focus on the fight to get well again.
What Does a Dredge Accident Lawyer in Maryland Cost?
People who suffer personal injuries often hesitate to call an attorney, whether it’s a car accident lawyer after a crash or a maritime accident lawyer after a dredging incident. They think that an attorney is expensive, and it will eat into their settlements, so they won’t be able to afford to pay their bills. In truth, calling an attorney can be the most important call you make after your accident.
Most attorneys, including the law offices of Montagna Maritime Law, offer free case evaluations, so your initial discussion does not cost you a dime. At our law firm, if we do not win your case and get you the fair compensation you deserve, we do not get paid. We front all the costs of your case, and if we win, we take our fee from the final award, as a percentage.
We will work to make sure you can afford our services and still have plenty left over to pay your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other injuries and losses. We cannot offer the exact cost of legal fees without evaluating your case, but we can promise that you will receive one-on-one personalized attention, and we will explore all your legal options so you can make the most educated choice for you.
Get Tenacious and Empathetic Dredge Accident Representation in Maryland
The maritime attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law have years of experience serving maritime workers in Maryland who crew any vessel in any navigable water or on land at port. We are ready to stand by your side and aggressively fight for your rights to all the fair compensation you deserve while you focus on your health.
From initial negotiations through district courts and all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, we’ll battle for you. We have protected the rights of East Coast United States maritime workers for over five decades and regularly represent crews of dredges and other vessels. Our clients have included members of the Seafarers International Union of North America, the International Longshoremen’s Association, the National Maritime Union, and the Masters, Mates & Pilots Union.
Our success over the years has been achieved one case at a time, and our client testimonials back it up. We offer truly personalized attention to every client and combine our extensive litigation experience with a caring and empathetic approach. Don’t hire a regular personal injury or car accident lawyer. Contact the Jones Act attorneys you can trust. Give us a call at 877-622-8100 or complete our contact form online to talk with one of our experienced maritime lawyers today.
Talk to an Experienced Dredge Accident Attorney
Suffering an injury while at work can be a stressful, confusing, and traumatic experience for anyone. Your employer might not be making the effort you expect to ensure your well-being. Often times, employers and insurers use underhanded techniques to get dredge workers to settle their cases quickly. That’s why it’s important you speak to a knowledgeable dredge accident attorney who can advise you of your rights under maritime law.
If you’ve been injured on the East Coast, call the skilled attorneys at Montagna Maritime Law to talk about your case. Our attorneys offer a high level of personal attention to each and every client, combined with extensive experience in the litigation of general maritime law. As an injured dredge worker who depends on your physical ability for your livelihood, it’s critical that you get the maximum compensation and benefits you’re entitled to under maritime laws for you, your family, and your health.