Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer
Have you or a loved one been injured in an offshore accident? Our Texas maritime accident lawyers specialize in representing Gulf Coast seamen injured or killed on container ships, cargo ships, barges, tugboats, push boats and other sea vessels.
If you've been injured-on-the-job while working aboard a maritime vessel, you may be confused and concerned about how you're going to pay for treatment. All you want is to get well and go back to work as soon as possible.
In most situations, your employer should provide sufficient compensation for your injuries sustained while working on their boat; however, sometimes stingy companies don't pay injured seamen enough to cover the full costs of treatment or refuse to pay at all. When such legal disputes arise regarding accidents that occur in open water, U.S. maritime law comes into play.
Whether your offshore injuries are the result of an oil rig explosion or other maritime accident, our Houston-based maritime injury attorneys are equipped with the right knowledge, background and experience to seek the compensation you deserve.
Give your offshore injury case the best possible chance of success.
Contact Houston's top admiralty maritime accident lawyers today.
What is Maritime & Admiralty Law?
Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, governs how a vessel should behave while out in open sea and handles legal disputes arising on navigable waters or bodies of water used for interstate or international commerce. Navigable waters do not fall into the jurisdiction of any one state; thus a large river that flows through multiple states or empties into the ocean would fall into this legal category, while a lake fully within a single state's boundaries would not.
Admiralty and maritime law applies to offshore disputes caused by factual scenarios that occur on navigable waters such as:
- Commercial cargo damage
- Seamen injuries
- Hazardous substance spills
- Piracy and criminal activity
- Liens against a ship
- Towing contracts
- Wake damage
- Recreational boating accidents
- Salvage awards
Common Maritime Injuries
According to the Insurance Information Institute, maritime accidents killed 2,487 people in 2015 and thousands more were injured. Most of these maritime accidents occurred on oil drilling platforms, passenger ships and freighters.
The maritime sector is one of the most dangerous and deadly industries in the U.S. The most common injuries sustained by American maritime workers include:
Barge Tugboat & Push Boat Accidents
Crew members working aboard tugboats and push boats face an especially high risk of danger each time they step on deck. Hazards include the towboat's high horsepower, large winches and other machinery, towing lines, lifting heavy chains and shackles, slippery conditions, risk of falling overboard and being crushed by the dock when hooking up barges, among other dangers.
These threats are made worse by an industry that is notorious for skirting important safety guidelines to reduce costs.
Why You Need an Experienced Maritime Personal Injury Attorney
Modern maritime law is a complex blend of federal legislation, ancient doctrines, international trade agreements, private contracts and other elements mixed into a single integrated legal rulebook. Admiralty law is also tricky because it encompasses numerous statutes and regulations that only apply to specific cases.
For example, if an offshore worker is injured on a fixed platform, their case is likely covered by the workers' compensation laws of the nearest state under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Under this law, fixed oil platforms are considered an "island" of the closest contiguous state. However, if the offshore accident occurred on a moving or mobile vessel, then federal maritime law will apply to the case.
Other maritime laws and regulations that frequently apply to offshore accident cases include:
- The Jones Act - A section of admiralty law that applies to any seaman injured or made ill on an offshore vessel during their course of employment due to negligence or unseaworthiness. Under the Jones Act, a worker injured on a pier, wharf, dry dock or terminal may recover compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of future earning capacity, cost of living expenses while in recovery and other damages.
- Death on the High Seas Act - A federal law ensuring compensation to families of loved ones killed during employment on board a sea vessel beyond 3 nautical miles from shore. Recovery is only granted for immediate financial damages under this law, not emotional damages or future economic losses.
- Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act - A comprehensive workers' compensation law providing compensation for medical and disability costs associated with a maritime injury or illness occurring on navigable waters, or wrongful death benefits to the family of a maritime worker killed on the open seas. Fault does not have to be established to secure compensation under this act.
- General Maritime Law - Under the principles of "maintenance and cure" in general maritime law, a shipowner must cover the cost of medical treatment for the injured seamen until maximum recovery is reached as well as his basic living expenses for the remainder of the voyage.
- Doctrine of Unseaworthiness - A duty imposed on shipowners to equip and maintain their vessels properly in accordance to federal standards. Failure to do so makes employers liable for any injuries occurring to crew members as a result.
With so many different factors and regulations to consider in your offshore injury claim, it is important to enlist help from an attorney with extensive background and experience in maritime and admiralty law. Many personal injury lawyers, even those in coastal cities, do not accept maritime cases because of the extensive expertise required to specialize in this practice area.
Expert Representation in Maritime Accident Cases Throughout Texas and the Gulf Coast
Texas maritime injury lawyer Neal Davis has 20 years of legal experience and has successfully resolved hundreds of cases, including claims involving maritime accidents and offshore worker death. In many cases, we are able to negotiate a settlement before going to court, getting you the compensation you need to recover sooner.
If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights in the event of an offshore accident, it is imperative that you speak with our knowledgeable maritime accident attorneys before signing any documents from your employer. We can give you answers, explain your options for compensation and provide a free case evaluation. Our expert services are available on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don't pay a penny unless we win. That's our No Fee Unless We Win Guarantee.