It can be challenging enough to navigate one boat through Louisiana’s waterways, but tugboats are often navigating for two vessels or large equipment. This adds another dimension to the tugboat captain’s calculations when it comes to obstacles such as bridges. Recently, one captain suffered fatal tugboat injuries when something went wrong as he went under a bridge on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC).
That day, a crane needed to be relocated. As the tugboat captain navigated his boat and the crane through the Louisiana IHNC — also called the Industrial Canal — he required a bridge to be raised in order to pass through. He requested that the bridge be raised to a certain height in order to assure that the crane and his boat could safely pass.
In fact, the bridge was raised higher than he requested, which should have allowed for easy passage under the bridge. However, something went wrong, and the arm of the crane hit a portion of the bridge. The crane then collapsed onto the tugboat’s wheelhouse, where the captain was located.
The Coast Guard, the Harbor Police and New Orleans firefighters and paramedics responded. Despite their efforts to save the 46-year-old captain, emergency medical responders pronounced him dead at around 1 a.m. It took some time to clear the scene, and it could take a while to determine precisely what happened.
While the man’s family waits for answers regarding what led to the man’s fatal tugboat injuries, they will be burying their loved one; not only is his loss difficult, but his family may also have questions about their financial future. A special set of laws governs benefits for maritime workers and seamen. Benefits paid by an individual’s employer are available for the family, but in addition to that, other remedies may be available. Depending on the circumstances, the Jones Act may allow this family to sue their family member’s employer. A review of the case by someone knowledgeable in this area may be beneficial in helping this family deal with the losses incurred as a result of this man’s untimely death.