Sinkings are among the most major maritime accidents that can occur. A vessel going down can cause major injuries and losses of life.

Sadly, a fatal sinking recently occurred in New York state. The vessel that went down was a tugboat named the Specialist. It sank in the area of the Tappan Zee Bridge on March 12. Its three crew members died in the incident.

The accident is being investigated by the United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is being assisted in this investigation by agencies at the federal, state and local level.

The investigation is expected to take months, which purportedly is within normal bounds for these types of investigations.

One of the reasons sinking investigations can take so long is the considerable amount of details and evidence to review in such accidents. Among the types of evidence the Coast Guard is expected to review in the tugboat sinking investigation are: physical evidence, electronic evidence, photographic evidence, witness statements, digital recordings, toxicology reports, the medical examiner's report, license/credential/qualification information, Coast Guard records, owner's records and evidence touching on weather and river conditions.

One of the things the Coast Guard investigation is aimed at determining is the cause of the tugboat going down.

The large amount of details and evidence related to sinkings can make determining cause challenging when a sinking occurs. It can also create some confusion for victims of sinking injuries and family members of individuals killed in sinkings regarding what options they have legally. Experienced maritime lawyers can provide such victims and family members with help sorting through the details/evidence of a sinking to determine what legal avenues they have available to them for pursuing compensation.

The Coast Guard investigation of the tugboat sinking also aims to determine what sorts of safety recommendations to make in the wake of the accident. Sometimes, investigations of maritime accidents uncover significant safety problems or issues and potential ways to prevent future accidents. One wonders what sorts of safety-related findings and recommendations the Coast Guard will end up making in its investigation.

Source: Coast Guard News, "Coast Guard continues investigation into the sinking of the tug Specialist," March 30, 2016

Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.
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