The Coast Guard is still looking for one person who remains missing after a tugboat accident in the Houston Ship Channel on Wednesday night. The 56-foot tugboat sank in the channel just before 10:30 pm last night. Four of the people on the tug were rescued, and one crewmember continues to remain missing. The Coast Guard has closed down the channel from the Vopak facility to Sims Bayou to allow search operations to continue.

Investigators are looking at the cause of the tugboat sinking. The four people who were recovered from the water have been taken to the hospital.   Preliminary reports seem to suggest that the boat overturned when it was caught in the wake of a large ship.

Tugboat Workers may be Protected under the Jones Act

Tugboat workers are generally included under Jones Act cover. This means they may be eligible for maintenance and cure, claims of negligence and several other rights granted under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act is a body of maritime laws that is designed specifically to protect seamen like tugboat workers who face the risk of injuries at sea. Not every person who works on or around a vessel qualifies as a Jones Act seaman. Qualification under the Act requires that you pass a crucial three-part test for seaman status.

  • 1. You must be assigned to a vessel at the time of the injury.
  • 2. The vessel you were on must be in navigation.
  • 3. You must contribute significantly to the vessel’s livelihood or function.

Seems simple enough, right?  Yet, these three criteria can present a number of complications when the time comes for a maritime lawyer to prove that you are a Jones Act seaman. For an employer, denying your Jones Act status equals denying your claim, because the Act provides for substantial benefits to be paid to a seaman. That’s why it’s important that you only consult with a Board Certified Jones Act lawyer to resolve your Jones Act claim.

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