Brian White | April 20, 2016 | Maritime Law
April 19, 2016, Harris County, TX — The body of a drowned man was recovered by the Harris County Sherrif’s Office Marine Unit in cooperation with the US Coast Guard after a tugboat capsized on the San Jacinto River Tuesday morning.
Security video that clearly shows the tugboat capsizing while working with a barge has been released.
Video courtesy of Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the HCSO the tugboat, identified as the Ricky J Leboeuf capsized about one mile south of Interstate 10. The tugboat has a crew of 5 when it began taking on water. Four crew members were found but the fifth was unaccounted for. A US Coast Guard boat found the victim a short while later and recovered the body. They are still determining what caused this maritime accident.
The Jones Act and general maritime law govern potential compensation for the victims of the incident. Under the Jones Act, the individuals have the burden of proving the vessel or vessel operator was negligent in some capacity.
Under general maritime law, if it was shown that the vessel suffered from an unseaworthy condition, the owners and operators will be held strictly liable for all damages. Under either Jones Act or general maritime law, surviving workers or their heirs of the deceased have significant potential legal remedies and compensation. Surviving members will also be entitled to maintenance and cure benefits.
The San Jacinto River is currently experiencing both increased water flow as well as increased and sometimes crowded barge operations. This incident appears to have the potential of claims under both the Jones Act for negligence as well as general maritime law for unseaworthiness
Harris County Sheriff’s Office released this statement about the incident.
According to Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick no fuel spilled from the vessel, which carried about 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel.