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Maritime Accidents Attorney Houston, TX

Seafarers and offshore workers face daily dangers while on the job, such as fires, explosions, gas leaks, falling objects, and extreme weather conditions. Maritime law is there to protect these workers and ensure they get proper compensation, including maintenance and cure, if they get injured.

Understanding maritime law can be complex, and many workers are unsure about which laws apply to their injury claims. Unfortunately, some workers accept inadequate compensation from their employers, which they can’t change later. That’s why it’s crucial to consult an experienced maritime attorney if you’ve been injured offshore.

Understanding Maritime Law

Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, includes regulations that apply to maritime workers, employers, and individuals injured at sea. These laws cover accidents on the high seas, such as oil platform accidents, dredge accidents, and cargo ship accidents. The “high seas” refer to waters beyond a country’s territorial boundaries. Additionally, maritime law applies to territorial waters within 12 miles of the shoreline.

Originally, maritime laws only covered accidents on the high seas, but they now extend to include all “navigable” waters in the United States. Navigable waters include bodies of water that facilitate trade between states or foreign countries. So, any water body that supports commerce with another state or nation is subject to maritime law. Even bodies of water connected to navigable waters fall under maritime law, regardless of their direct connection to other states or countries. Bodies of water enclosed by land, or “land-locked” waters, are governed by state law rather than federal maritime law.

Maritime law has evolved significantly, extending its reach from accidents on the high seas to include all “navigable waters” within the United States. Defining navigable waters can be complex, relying on legal precedents to offer clearer definitions.

Federal law governs all maritime injuries, granting federal courts jurisdiction over personal injury and property damage cases on navigable waters. State courts may exercise discretion concerning compensation processes for victims. The overlap between state and federal maritime law can be confusing, leaving workers uncertain about whether to file claims in Texas state courts. Our maritime lawyers can provide guidance on your injury case and help you navigate state or federal court options.

Important Maritime Law Acts in Texas

Maritime injury cases and property damage cases rely on various acts and principles developed over many years. These legal principles outline compensation rights, medical expense coverage, and jurisdiction for claims. Key maritime law acts in Texas include:

  1. Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act: This act compensates various maritime employees, including harbor construction workers, longshore workers, dock workers, cargo workers, ship repairers, and shipbuilders. To claim compensation under this act, the worker must demonstrate maritime employment and an injury occurring on navigable waters or adjacent areas.
  2. Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act: An extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, this act allows injured workers on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States to make injury claims. Workers must show their work was related to exploring and producing natural resources.
  3. Death on the High Seas Act: This act covers all deaths occurring on the high seas beyond a state’s territorial waters. It enables family members of victims who died due to a wrongful act, neglect, or default on the high seas to bring lawsuits. Compensation is limited to pecuniary losses, such as financial support, and excludes medical and funeral costs.
  4. Jones Act: Also known as the Merchant Marine Act, this 1920 law protects seamen’s rights to file claims against their employers for offshore injuries. Workers can file compensation claims if their employer was partially responsible for their injuries. Negligence incidents covered by this act include failure to maintain safe equipment, knowledge of extreme weather conditions without preventive measures, negligent orders to workers, and failure to provide medical treatment.
  5. Limitation of Liability Act: This act allows vessel owners to limit their liability for injuries and damages caused by their vessels. To use this act, owners must demonstrate no prior knowledge of vessel problems or damage. When this act is invoked, a judge makes the final decision, as it falls under admiralty law, slightly distinct from maritime law.
  6. Seamen’s Right to Maintenance and Cure: This right resembles worker’s compensation and requires employers to cover maintenance and cure costs for captains and crew members injured offshore. Maintenance covers basic living expenses, while cure covers medical bills for work-related injuries. These benefits continue until the injured party reaches maximum medical improvement.

Injured maritime workers have various rights under maritime law, including:

  1. Medical Treatment: The Jones Act guarantees injured maritime workers access to medically necessary treatment covered by their employers. Workers do not need insurance or worry about medical expenses, as they receive financial maintenance payments and full medical benefits. Even pre-existing injuries exacerbated by maritime accidents are covered.
  2. Choice of Doctor: Injured offshore workers can select their treating medical professionals, although the initial evaluation may be recommended by their insurance company or employer.
  3. Non-Recorded Accident Statements: While injured maritime workers must report accidents to their employer or the site authorities, they are not obligated to provide recorded statements immediately. Shock and pain can cause confusion, making it advisable to avoid recorded statements that may need revision later.

Contact Rodney Jones for your Maritime Accident Case!

Houston maritime lawyers at The Rodney Jones Law Group P.C. understand the complexities of maritime law and are prepared to assist you in securing the compensation you deserve. We can help you file claims under various maritime laws, including the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, unseaworthiness claims, and negligence claims. By consulting with our experienced attorneys, you can enhance your chances of obtaining fair compensation. Contact us at 832-377-5529 to discuss your case and explore our Houston maritime law services.