Offshore Dredge Accident Attorneys

Nationwide Dredging Accident Representation

Dredging vessels are specialized ships designed for underwater operations that involve gathering sediment, often used to clear waterways and maintain their navigability. These vessels are characterized by their long cranes, essential for the dredging process. There are various types of dredges, each with a distinct appearance. The cranes on these vessels are versatile and can be positioned not only in water but also onshore or on platforms, broadening their operational scope.

Dredge workers are vulnerable to crush injuries, particularly on their arms and hands, when performing on-ship tasks like loosening blockages in dredge pipelines. Injuries may also occur while crew members are being transported to and from dredge boats. Even though many dredging operations occur in shallow seas or inland waterways, workers are typically offered the same protections as workers stationed on vessels that navigate the high seas. 

Regardless of the type of dredge you were working around or the type of injury that you sustained, Arnold & Itkin is here to help following a serious accident or injury. We understand the complex laws surrounding maritime accidents and can put our knowledge to work for you. In fact, our team has recovered over $20 billion for our clients!

Why trust your case to anyone else? Call our dredge accident attorneys at (888) 346-5024.

Types of Dredgers

Dredging vessels, or “dredgers,” are designed for excavating underwater sediments and disposing of them at a different location. This excavation process, known as dredging, is carried out to keep waterways navigable, create new harbors, maintain existing harbors, or recover valuable mineral deposits from the seabed.

There are several types of dredging vessels, each tailored for specific dredging tasks:

  • Cutter Suction Dredger: Equipped with a rotating cutter head to cut and loosen sediment, this dredger sucks up loosened material using a centrifugal pump and discharges it through a pipeline or into hopper barges for disposal.
  • Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger: This vessel sucks up loose sediment from the seabed like a giant vacuum. The dredged material is stored in its hopper (a large onboard storage container) and can be transported and dumped.
  • Backhoe Dredger: Resembling a land-based excavator or backhoe, this type of dredger uses a hydraulic arm fitted with a special bucket to scoop material from the seabed.
  • Grab Dredger: Uses a grab or clamshell bucket suspended from onboard cranes to scoop material from the sea floor.
  • Bucket Ladder Dredger: This type of dredging vessel is equipped with a continuous chain of buckets. The buckets then work to scoop material from the seabed as the chain rotates.
  • Plain Suction Dredger: This type lacks a cutter head, making it suitable for dredging loose material.

Why Dredging Is Dangerous

Like most maritime occupations, those who work on dredges have a dangerous, but necessary, job to do. Without dredges, waterways could not be maintained for commerce. When sediment and other materials block passageways that ships need to pass through, dredges are necessary to clear that material. The cranes of these vessels are extremely dangerous, often putting workers and those around them at risk.

Some of the most serious dredge accidents that can occur include:

  • Falling objects or materials
  • Slip and falls
  • Malfunctioning machinery
  • Crush injuries due to various issues

Any material that falls from a dredge crane can cause major injuries that can result in amputation, loss of limb, or even paralysis. Dredging can also be extremely dangerous if the vessel or any of its machinery comes into contact with hidden pipelines. Depending on what the pipeline is transporting, this type of incident can prove deadly for the crew of the dredger and any vessels nearby. 

That’s precisely what happened on the morning of August 21, 2020. The Waymon L. Boyd was operating in the Inner Harbor of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel when it struck a submerged 16-inch propane pipeline, causing an explosion that killed 4 crew members and injured 8 others. Six of the crew members had to be airlifted to local burn units; one later died from his injuries. 

Upon investigating the Corpus Christi dredge explosion, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) found it was primarily a result of insufficient planning and risk assessment by Orion Marine Group, the owner of the dredge. They failed to recognize the close proximity of their dredging activities to the pipeline. The situation was exacerbated by the substandard dredging plans supplied by Schneider Engineering and Consulting, which led to incomplete and inaccurate information being relayed during the one-call (call before you dig) process. These failures cost five crew members’ lives.

Major U.S. Dredging Companies

The Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company (GLDD) is at the forefront of the dredging industry in the United States. Notably, this company played a crucial role in cleaning up after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, working to protect the coast of Louisiana. However, their record isn’t without its blemishes. One significant mishap in their history occurred during the Chicago Flood of 1992. While preparing foundations for a new bridge, they accidentally drilled into a tunnel beneath the river, causing widespread flooding in downtown Chicago.

Another prominent player is Gulf States Dredging LLP, which primarily operates in Texas. This company has had its share of legal troubles, highlighted by a recent case where an employee filed a lawsuit under the Jones Act. The employee claimed that they were injured due to negligence while working on a barge winch.

For those interested in a more detailed list of dredging companies in the U.S., the Dredging Contractors of America provides a comprehensive directory. This is a valuable resource for anyone looking to learn more about the companies that play a crucial role in America’s dredging industry.

Injured Dredge Workers’ Rights & Legal Representation

Working in the dredging industry carries inherent risks, and when accidents occur, they can have life-altering consequences. It’s crucial for injured dredge workers to understand that they have specific rights under maritime law designed to protect them and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.

Maritime law is complex, and having the right attorney matters, especially for injured dredge workers. A lawyer who knows the ins and outs of maritime law can be key in making sure crew members and their families get the compensation they deserve. This includes payments for medical care, lost wages, and other related damages under the Jones Act and other relevant maritime laws.

Working with an attorney who has a comprehensive grasp of the unique challenges and dangers associated with dredging operations is not just beneficial—it’s essential. Such an attorney can effectively demonstrate the nature of the work and how negligence or wrongdoing may have contributed to the accident. They are equipped to hold responsible parties accountable, whether it’s due to inadequate safety measures, improper training, or other negligent acts.

Reach Out Today for a Free Consultation: (888) 346-5024

Injured dredge workers should not have to navigate the aftermath of an accident alone. Securing the right legal representation helps ensure that their rights are protected, and that they can pursue the full compensation needed for their recovery and future well-being. It’s not just about legal support; it’s about having an advocate who understands the intricacies of maritime law and is committed to fighting for the justice and compensation injured dredge workers deserve.

Arnold & Itkin is not afraid to take major dredging companies to court. Our dredge accident attorneys have faced large insurance companies, oil companies, shipping companies, and many other parties over the years. When our clients’ best interests are on the line, we never back down. No matter what.

Now is the time to have trusted counsel on your side. Set up a free consultation today.

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