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Accidents on Spud Barges


You've always been willing to take on the physical demands of construction work on the water. That's why you worked on spud barges and construction barges on the Gulf. No two days of work are the same on the water. If, however, you've suffered a serious injury on a spud barge or construction barge, you deserve full compensation for your injuries and the peace of mind of financial security to provide for your family as you recover from your serious accident.


If you or a loved one has been injured while working on a spud barge, contact an experienced maritime lawyer. Maritime accidents frequently are caused by an employer's lack of focus on safety, equipment maintenance, or training of the ship crew. As a maritime worker, you have certain rights and benefits under the Jones Act and other maritime laws when you are injured or fall ill in a maritime-related job. The law details how much compensation you and your family are entitled to collect for medical bills, lost wages, living expenses, and other bills.

Injured while working on a spud barge?

On a spud barge, you are working around heavy construction equipment and cables under tension. A spud, a steel shaft that typically weighs about five tons, requires heavy-duty diesel-powered winches or cranes to lower and raise it through the deck of the barge. Spud barges have forward and aft spuds that anchor a barge in place to provide a platform to drive pilings around docks, oil rigs, and other platforms in an oil field. All construction sites are dangerous workplaces and a spud barge—essentially a construction platform on the water—is no different. Spud barge owners have a legal responsibility to provide a seaworthy vessel with equipment in working order and employers are legally required to provide safe working conditions and anticipate reasonably foreseeable hazards.

A barge hand or member of a pile driving crew can suffer a serious head injury or back injury if struck by a spud being lifted out of the water by a crane or while trying to secure the spud with an 85-pound steel pin. Barge hands or barge crew trying to remove a spud pin can have a hand crushed or fingers amputated if the spud drops unexpectedly or if a frayed cable breaks. A barge hand or winch operator also can lose fingers or have limbs crushed or severed if they get caught in a fouled winch cable as it is wrapping around a drum.

The failure to pin spuds can lead to serious or deadly accidents. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the failure of a maritime construction company to require a construction barge crew to secure spuds with pins before getting underway caused a 2006 accident that killed six maritime workers in the West Cote Blanche bay oil field in Louisiana. While the barge was underway, one of the five-ton spuds dropped into the water from its raised position and ruptured an underwater high-pressure natural gas pipeline, causing an explosion and fireball.

According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, 120 maritime workers died in barge and towing accidents from 1999 through 2008, including those involved in spud barge and construction barge accidents. From 2006 through 2008, there were nearly 200 incidents on barges and tow boats that resulted in medium to severe injuries to crew.

The accidents include the following:

  • Falls from Great Heights
  • Entanglements in Lines or Cables
  • Being Struck by Moving Objects
  • Being Crushed Between Objects
  • Furns from Fires and Explosions

Maritime Construction Injury Lawyers Can Help You

At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we understand the complexities and legalities of maritime law and concentrate on helping injured maritime workers. Based in Houston, we stand up for barge workers who have been injured on the job on the Gulf Coast, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. For a free consultation, call us or contact us using our case evaluation form. We can advise you on all aspects of maritime law and benefits you are entitled to.

Don't leave your future unprotected. Contact a maritime injury lawyer from our firm to learn more!

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I encountered professionalism, understanding, compassion… lot of compassion. They really felt for what me and my wife were going through.
~ Deepwater Horizon Crew Member

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