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Protecting Your Loved Ones: The Rights of Tug Employees


Posted in Get To Know Maritime Law on April 23, 2018


Tugboats may be small in size compared to other vessels but they are among the most powerful and busy ships in the maritime industry. Tugboats provide a wide range of important services, from towing cruise ships and other large vessels in and out of harbors to rescuing ships or oil rigs that have been stranded out at sea.

But their versatility out on water also makes them hazardous places to work because they often carry an abundance of heavy-duty equipment of all kinds to prepare for a variety of emergencies.

Working on a tug entitles you to certain rights under maritime law. These rights are laid out in general maritime law (including the Jones Act), and they have been created to ensure that seamen have protection in cases of illness or injury while working. As Gulf Coast maritime lawyers, the attorneys at Lapeze & Johns are dedicated to protecting tug workers’ who have been injured on the job.

Please consider the following information regarding tug workers’ maritime rights and if you have further questions feel free to contact us at (713) 739-1010 for a free initial evaluation.

What are Cure and Maintenance?

A tug worker’s rights are broken down into the two main categories of cure and maintenance. Cure refers to the cost of medical care needed by a worker who is injured or becomes ill on the job.

Maintenance refers to the cost of daily food and lodging that corresponds to what a maritime worker receives out at sea. An employer must provide cure and maintenance for their injured or sick tug workers until maximum medical treatment has been given, meaning that their condition cannot improve with further medical care.

How Do You Qualify for Cure and Maintenance?

To qualify for coverage under maritime laws, a tug worker must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Provide proof of employment as an employee on a tugboat or other vessel.
  • Show that their injury or illness occurred as they were working on the vessel or tug.
  • Provide proof of medical expenses and cost of lodging.
  • Show the amount they are entitled to under the collective bargaining agreement that is in place between their employer and the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (IBU)

Why Do Maritime Rights Exist?

Working on a vessel out at sea poses many challenges. The ocean can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment to work in, with sudden and strong storms always posing a threat.

Added to these environmental risks are the dangers associated with the heavy equipment and hazardous materials that are often on vessels. These factors lead to a higher risk of injury and put seamen in vulnerable situations because of how challenging it is to receive medical treatment when working out at sea.

In general, it takes much longer for someone injured at sea to reach a hospital for treatment and temporary treatment may have to be applied on the vessel.

Maritime law recognizes this and has developed special maritime rights to protect seamen. Trying to decrease their vulnerability while out at sea, maritime law requires employers to provide both care and maintenance to their workers who are injured or ill during the course of their work.

What Are Some Common Injuries Among Tug Workers?

Tug workers encounter dangerous conditions on a daily basis. The heavy cables used by tugboats to pull and guide other vessels can snap when put under extreme pressure and cause broken bones or a loss of limbs.

Tugboats are also at risk of capsizing easily, leading to serious head injury or fatalities among tug employees.

Slippery surfaces, sudden shifts that slide equipment around, and mechanical malfunctions of heavy equipment can also lead to numerous injuries among tug workers.

Work-related injuries in most industries can be handled through an administrative body that oversees the relationship between employers and their employees. Injuries that occur to seamen, however, have to go through state or federal court and are governed by maritime law. Instead of filing a claim, seamen must file a lawsuit to seek restitution. Having a seasoned maritime lawyer can greatly help in explaining your rights and improving your chances of being compensated for your loss and injuries.

With more than two decades of experience, your Houston maritime attorneys at Lapeze & Johns are equipped to fight for the rights of tug employees.

Our Houston maritime lawyers know how to navigate the complicated and unique world of maritime law. Call the Gulf Coast maritime lawyers Christopher Johns and Keith Lapeze today at (713) 739-1010 for a free initial consultation.

The sooner you call, the sooner you can learn your rights and ensure they are protected.