Cumberland River Accidents

The Cumberland River is a major water artery located in Kentucky and Tennessee. It is a necessary route for many barges, tugs, and other vessels. It runs from the Appalachian Mountains in the east towards the Ohio River for a length of 688 miles with various tributaries along the way. Much of the area it winds through is rural; however, it does run through some cities. There are some ports and terminals located on the river. The two main ports are the Port of Nashville in Tennessee and the Eddyville Riverport in Kentucky.

River Safety

The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for broad authority over the safety and operation of vessels on navigable rivers including the Cumberland.

The National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) investigates accidents on waterways and issues accident reports. These reports provide descriptions of accidents as well as what caused them. It is important to note that the NTSB does not find fault or assign legal liability are part of their report.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides safety guidelines that employers must follow to provide a safe and healthy workplace. Companies are required to take steps necessary to ensure safety including providing equipment that is working and properly maintained, training employees how to use machinery,


  • In August 2016, a collision occurred near the Cumberland between two towing vessels. The accident occurred when one vessel was supposed to wait while the other one passed. Instead, the pilot was unable to maintain position, and it drifted into the lane of traffic causing an unavoidable crash. No injuries were reported, but the accident caused a spill of 700 gallons of oil and diesel. Additionally, property damages were estimated at $2 million.
  • A tug boat hit into a pier on US 62 “Blue” Bridge at Lake City in 2015. The tug was traveling northbound out of the lock at Barkley Dam with a tow of five loaded sand barges and four loaded rock barges when contact was made with the bridge. No injuries were reported, but the U.S. Coast Guard had to have the bridge checked for safety before allowing traffic to continue.

Employees who were injured because of the negligence of their employer may be entitled to compensation. The Jones Act protects maritime employees and allows them to take legal action in cases where negligence caused a serious accident and injury. If you were hurt in a tug or barge accident on the Cumberland River, we will review your case and protect your rights. Contact us today by filling out the convenient online form for a prompt response.

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