Houston Maritime Injury Lawyers

Maritime workers often face dangerous work conditions and unique hazards, whether they work long hours on a fishing vessel, or operate complex, heavy machinery on an oil rig. When a maritime worker is injured on the job, they don’t have the same legal recourses that land-based employees have. They are instead subject to and protected under various maritime laws.

Maritime law is incredibly complex, but a skilled and experienced maritime lawyer can help you explore all of your legal options for compensation, whether your case falls under the Jones Act, The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, or another maritime law.

When you’re injured, out of work, and struggling to pay for your medical treatment, the last thing you want to deal with is a complicated lawsuit. The attorneys at Attorney Tom will relieve your burden by handling each step on your behalf. Your only job will be to focus on recovering.

When you hire one of our Houston maritime injury lawyers, we’ll work hard to protect your rights and ensure you receive the maximum monetary award you deserve. To learn more about our legal services or schedule a free consultation, call Attorney Tom at (713) 244-6363.

What Is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal law passed in 1920. It protects seamen’s rights who sustain injuries due to someone else’s negligence while performing their job duties. Since maritime workers are typically not eligible for coverage under standard state and federal workers’ compensation insurance, they can seek compensation under various maritime laws.

The Jones Act defines seamen as any individual who works on a vessel or fleet operating on navigable waters and capable of navigating the water. Seaman may include:

  • Barge crew
  • Commercial fishermen
  • Oil rig workers
  • Deckhands
  • Tugboat workers
  • Cruise ship employees
  • Shipyard and dock workers
  • Commercial divers
  • Ferry workers
  • Merchant mariners

You must spend at least 30% of your shift on board and have responsibilities that contribute to the vessel functioning or completing the vessel’s mission.

Examples of vessels include:

  • Drillships
  • Most offshore oil rigs
  • Barges
  • Dredges
  • Oil tanker
  • Ferries
  • Container ships
  • Supply boats
  • Crew boats
  • Tug boats
  • Floaters

Navigable waters refer to a body of water that’s used for foreign or interstate commerce. As long as you get hurt on or near a waterway while working on a vessel, you might be eligible to sue the negligent party. Your Houston maritime injury lawyer can review your case to determine if your accident falls under the Jones Act. The term vessel gets updated regularly due to the growing maritime industry and the development of new technology.

Common Causes of Maritime Injuries

Maritime workers are subject to countless dangers, many of which are unique to their industry. Common causes of maritime injuries include:

  • Falling overboard
  • Shipping accidents
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Dock and pier accidents
  • Fires and explosions
  • Electrocution
  • Collision between vessels
  • Lack of adequate safety equipment
  • Tasks requiring repetitive motion
  • Slip and fall
  • Fishing accidents
  • Poorly trained or inexperienced workers
  • Operating defective equipment, such as cranes and forklifts

Proving Negligence After a Maritime Accident

If you suffered injuries through no fault of your own, you could file a lawsuit against the liable party. Simply getting hurt while working on a vessel isn’t enough to qualify you for compensation under the Jones Act. There has to be proof that someone else’s negligence caused your injury. Negligence refers to one party’s failure to exercise a reasonable duty of care to prevent harm to another.

Five elements of negligence must exist at the time of the accident to recover compensation:

  1. Duty: The at-fault party owed you a reasonable duty of care;
  2. Breach of duty: They breached their duty;
  3. Cause in fact: If it wasn’t for their action or inaction, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt;
  4. Proximate cause: Their breach was the direct cause of your injury; and
  5. Damages: You suffered losses as a result of the accident.

Parties commonly sued for maritime accidents include:

  • Employer
  • Third-party hired to perform work on the vessel
  • Manufacturer of defective machinery, equipment, or part
  • Owner of the vessel
  • Manufacturer of ineffective safety equipment

Whether your injuries are minor or severe, you’ll likely incur damages. Damages are the losses associated with an accident. The damages you could recover in a lawsuit include:

  • Past and future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Cost of room and board
  • Mental anguish

Legal Options for Workers Who Aren’t Covered by the Jones Act

If you don’t qualify for compensation under the Jones Act, you might be able to file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. You could be eligible for benefits if you suffer injuries on piers, docks, terminals, or other facilities on or near navigable waters. Some of the employees potentially eligible include:

  • Forklift operators
  • Longshoremen
  • Pier constructors
  • Pile drivers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Dockworkers
  • Winch operators
  • Harbor employees
  • Ship repairers

Benefits you may be entitled to under this Act include:

  • Coverage of medical expenses
  • Two-thirds of average weekly wages before the injury occurred
  • Permanent disability and impairment
  • Vocational rehabilitation

Death benefits are also available for surviving family members of maritime workers who sustain a fatal injury or illness. The following individuals are eligible to file a compensation claim as long as they were dependent on the deceased:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Surviving children
  • Surviving parents
  • Surviving grandparents
  • Surviving grandchildren
  • Surviving siblings

Compensation includes the cost of funeral services up to $3,000 and a percentage of the deceased’s average weekly wages at a rate of:

  • 50% for surviving spouses
  • 66 2/3% for a surviving spouse and children
  • 50% for one surviving child
  • 66 2/3% for more than one surviving child

Speak to a Dedicated Houston Maritime Injury lawyer Today

At Attorney Tom, we have the experience, resources, and skills to ensure our clients receive the maximum compensation they deserve. We know this has been a traumatic experience. When you get hurt at work and can’t earn a living, it creates a financial burden. We’ll fight hard to protect your rights and ensure you win the financial award you need to cover your losses.

When you’re unable to return to your job due to a maritime injury, you end up facing financial hardships. We don’t want to add more stress to your life, which is why we take cases on contingency. That means there are no upfront fees or costs to receive legal representation. We don’t collect our legal fees unless we’re able to recover compensation for our clients. If we lose your case, you won’t’ have to pay us.

We care about the clients that hire us. We’ll be by your side from the beginning to the end of your case. You can depend on us to provide the support and guidance you need during this challenging time in your life. Call one of our Houston maritime injury lawyers at (713) 244-6363 to schedule your free consultation and find out how we can help.

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