Dredging is important maritime work because these types of operations help maintain the environment around busy ports, including but not limited to sea channels, shipping lanes, and waterways. Dredging is vital for highly-trafficked waterways in New Jersey because ships of all sizes tend to unsettle the seafloor and create hazards beneath the surface. Dredging the sediment keeps the shipping lanes safe in New Jersey and other coastal states.

The critical work associated with dredging can be extremely dangerous for workers as they work hard to keep a safe, reliable, and efficient navigation system. Unfortunately, it is common for dredging accidents to occur near the shore, offshore, or in shallow waters. Sadly, many of these injuries can be severe or life-altering for the victims of these accidents.

Dredge worker accidents can be covered and litigated under maritime law. If you, or a loved one, were hurt in a dredging accident, you may meet the criteria to obtain compensation. Montagna Maritime Law serves the state of New Jersey and has extensive knowledge and experience in this legal area and can help. Call the maritime injury attorneys at (877) 622-8100 or complete their online contact form to request a free consultation. Our law firm also offers resources for our Spanish-speaking clients.

dredge accident lawyer

What Are the Different Types of Dredgers?

A dredge is a type of machine that scoops or suctions the sediment found at the bottom of waterways. This equipment can also be utilized to mine materials found underneath the water. There are several different types of dredgers used in this critical work that serve different purposes.

Hydraulic Dredge

Hydraulic dredgers are designed to suck up mixtures of dredged material and water from the bottom of waterway channels. Designed to determine the best mixture of material and water when doing removals – there are two primary types of hydraulic dredges – hopper dredges and cutter suction dredges.

Hopper Dredge

Hopper dredges are designed to dredge soft mud, silt, dense sands, or clay. They work well in the deep ocean, along with wide-open spaces, and require little need for tug assistance or towing since they are highly mobile.

Cutter Suction Dredge

Known as a CSD, this type of dredger “sucks” the dredged materials from the intake pipe and pushes them directly to the discharge pipeline where the sediment is placed. It is designed to also break up and loosen the bottom material so it can be “sucked up” and removed.

Mechanical Dredge

Mechanical dredgers remove material from the sea floor and transport it into a barge or other placement area. There are several types of mechanical dredgers including clamshell, backhoe, and dipper – each has its own type of scooping bucket. This type of equipment is suitable for working in tightly confined or rugged areas.

Dredgers generally fall into the above categories but may differ or go by different names, such as suction, bucket, bed levelers, snag boats, and fishing dredgers. Earlier versions of dredgers that date back to the early 20th century were crude, but technology and experience have made the process more efficient. However, despite the improvement in equipment over the decades, the serious risks associated with this type of work still exist.

Where Do Dredge Accidents Occur?

Dredging accidents typically occur in coastal states, such as New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas. Other areas where dredging accidents tend to occur include other non-coastal states or cities that have rivers, harbors, large lakes, and areas with other types of bodies of water. Therefore, maritime workers in New Jersey are at risk for this type of accident.

Since heavy amounts of sediment and debris need to be removed to keep waterways safe, it is common to see consistent dredging occurring in these areas. Unfortunately, offshore injuries are more common than we would like to hear about. Accident victims often suffer serious injuries and high medical expenses, not to mention some types of injury, such as a brain injury, which can be life-altering.

Are You a Victim of an Offshore Dredging Accident?

Maritime law is a specific set of laws that include both the United States and international statutes. These laws are specific to injuries suffered by seamen, on cruise ships, and a range of other activities that occur on the ocean, such as parasailing, boating, and other reactional events.

Individuals who work in the dredging industry are covered under these laws, most specifically the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, often referred to as the Jones Act, and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. If you, or a loved one, were injured or became sick during the course of work while dredging, you do have legal options. Steps to take include:

  •     Report the incident to your supervisor
  •     Seek medical care and treatment
  •     Consult with an experienced maritime attorney

It is critical to take these three steps because the faster you obtain medical treatment, you can ensure you stand the best chance of healing, and it will be easier to prove the injury occurred due to work-related conditions while dredging. Reporting to your supervisor provides additional critical documentation you will need.

Consulting with a personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable in maritime laws and workers’ compensation laws will better your chances of receiving the full amount of compensation you deserve, especially if negligence was involved. They will examine who the at-fault parties might be or if the vessel owner has liability for the incident.

dredge working out at sea

Who Qualifies Under the Jones Act? 

Under the Jones Act, workers who are injured at sea during their employment or work duties are legally permitted to bring personal injury action against their employers. In certain circumstances, plaintiffs do have the right to bring their claim to a jury trial. Types of injuries that qualify under the Jones Act include:

  •     Reckless, negligent, or non-professional actions taken by other crewmembers that result in injury.
  •     Unseaworthy dredging vessels or heavy machinery equipment that caused the injury.
  •     Unsafe working conditions where employees encountered a hazard that led to an injury.
  •     Other actions that happened onboard that lead to injury.

In many instances, both domestic and foreign dredge workers in New Jersey will qualify to file a personal injury claim. Speaking with a knowledgeable dredge accident attorney who services New Jersey can help determine what type of case you may have.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for My Dredging Accident

The state of New Jersey has a two-year statute of limitations in place for individuals to file a claim for a personal injury case. It is important to call a legal representative as soon as possible to make certain your case does not go beyond the two-year statute of limitations. However, even if your case has gone beyond two years, it is still important to speak with an attorney because, depending on your specific set of circumstances as an injured seaman, there may be exceptions to this rule.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

As a dredge accident victim, it is crucial to remember that insurance companies do not serve as your ally. They’ll often try to shift blame to victims, undermine the extent of their injuries, or even dispute injuries or damages that victims have suffered. Insurance adjusters often will contact victims to extract information that ultimately can hurt them when it comes to compensation. They will also manipulate injured seamen by trying to encourage them to sign for a payout that is far lower than what they are entitled to receive, often not considering any long-term medical care they will need.

If you have been hurt at a dredging site, it’s important to speak to a maritime lawyer without delay. Also, you should never sign agreements waiving your right to a jury trial for increased payments while out injured without speaking with an experienced law firm first. Unlike insurance companies, your Montagna Maritime attorney will stand by your side and be your advocate. Because companies have insurance companies fighting for them or the vessel owner, it’s important you have someone looking out for your best interests as well.

What Is the Cost of a Dredge Accident Lawyer in New Jersey?

If you need legal advice, you can speak to a Montagna Maritime lawyer at no cost. We offer a consultation that is absolutely free to our clients. Our compassionate and caring personal injury lawyers are happy to answer any of your questions or address any concerns you have relating to a serious injury you or a loved one have suffered in a dredging accident.

While our attorneys cannot offer you an exact amount of the cost, if you are awarded a settlement, we do provide this page which is a good resource to help you understand what you can expect when working with the Montagna Maritime Law firm.

Call Montagna Maritime for Tenacious and Empathetic Dredge Accident Representation in New Jersey

The aftermath of a dredging accident can be devastating to victims and their families. If you, or someone important to you, suffered a personal injury or wrongful death because of an accident that occurred while performing dredging duties in New Jersey, the maritime accident lawyers at Montagna Maritime are here to support you, protect your legal rights, and work hard to see you receive fair compensation for your suffering.

The well-being of our clients and their family members is of the utmost importance to us. Our team strongly believes victims should never have to carry additional burdens associated with financial obligations or other types of challenges they will encounter in their everyday lives because another party was reckless, negligent, or otherwise irresponsible.

Our law office has more than 50 years of experience fighting for the rights of maritime workers in personal injury cases. We routinely represent crews aboard dredgers, tugs, barges, ships, and fishing vessels. The Montagna team is fully committed to helping victims of New Jersey dredging accidents receive the maximum compensation they deserve under maritime law.

If you would like to receive a free consultation, call our legal team at 877-622-8100 or complete our online contact form. A member of our team will get back to you right away.