Gulf Coast Maritime Lawyer
Walker Texas Lawyer is one of Texas’s most experienced maritime lawyers. Maritime lawsuits are often complex and challenging to handle. This is why you need to look to an attorney who has dealt with those complicated cases. Maritime law is often referred to as admiralty law. If you are injured at sea, you need a Texas admiralty attorney because these cases often have many inconsistencies. Walker will find these inconsistencies and help you recover what you deserve.
Like in any industry, seamen are at risk of incurring severe injuries. Thankfully the law recognizes this and protects seamen. Through maritime law, insured offshore workers receive protection. However, it is best to have an attorney help you claim compensation.
The following acts are foundational to maritime law:
- Jones Act
- Death on the High Seas Act
- Limitation of Liability Act
- Longshoreman & Harbor Workers Compensation Act
If you have been involved in a maritime accident, do not hesitate to call Walker Texas Lawyer immediately.
Common Maritime Injury Cases We Handle:
- Jack-up rig accidents
- Deck accidents
- Tugboat accidents
- Oil platform accidents
- Barge accidents
- Commercial fishing accidents
- Cargo ship accidents
- Shipyard accidents
Common Offshore Injuries
The list of injuries common among seamen and other maritime workers is long, but the following are some of the most severe injuries that can happen while working at sea or on the shore:
- Broken finger, hand, arm, leg, foot, or back
- Burns (common with longshoremen)
- Compartment syndrome (inadequate blood flow to tissues)
- Crushed finger(s), hand, arm, leg, or foot
- Deep cut or laceration
- Drowning or near-drowning
- Injured back and/or neck, including herniated discs and strains
- Loss of limb
- Lung problems, including pleural disease
- Torn muscles, ligaments, or tendons
- Toxic chemical exposure
- Traumatic brain injury
What’s the difference between Maritime Law, Admiralty Law, and Law of the Sea?
Maritime Law and Admiralty Law are two terms that mean the same thing. They are interchangeable. These are laws that regard the conduct of vessels and incidents occurring at sea or onshore.
While Maritime law does govern matters connected to the sea, it does differ from “Law of the Sea.” Law of the Sea governs international trade, mineral rights, jurisdiction over coastal waters, treaties, and relations between countries. Maritime Law cases are more local in concept. They often involve civil suits, individuals, companies, and representatives of those companies. Many aspects of admiralty law are recognized internationally through multilateral treaties. This is why having a Gulf Coast Maritime Attorney is critical to your case if you are injured at sea.
What Does Admiralty Law Include?
Admiralty law sets forth the following laws involving the sea and seamen:
- The right of a rescuer to claim a Marine Salvage award for recovering property lost at sea.
- ship owners must provide reasonable care to passengers.
- If a passenger’s injury results from negligence, a suit may be against the shipowner.
- The right to place a Maritime Lien against a vessel if creditors or seamen are due money. This acts as security to make sure those parties get paid.
The benefit of “maintenance and cure” requires ship owners to care for the injured crew.
- Maintenance obligates ship owners to provide seamen with basic living expenses until they can return to work. Cure obligates ship owners to provide free medical care—even if that care is long-term or permanent.
Some laws would no longer apply if you set sail and leave national boundaries, even if you are a U.S. citizen, employed by a U.S. company, and on a U.S.-registered ship. The Merchant Marine Act is one set of laws created to help restore your protections. The Jones Act is Section 27 of the Marine Merchant Act. It helps govern maritime commerce in U.S. waters between U.S. ports.
The Jones Act also includes provisions that have maritime workers’ rights at their core. Those provisions include (among many others):
- Commerce between U.S. ports can only occur with American-built vessels.
- The vessel’s owner must use reasonable care and maintain it for safety and seaworthiness. The owner is liable if it is found that their negligence led to an injury.
- Qualifying sailors (officially classified as seamen) who have suffered injuries or illness while at sea can recover appropriate compensation from their employers by a lawsuit if necessary.
Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The DOHSA covers passengers on a maritime vessel who are killed outside of the three-mile territorial coast of the United States. This means that families for passengers not employed by the vessel are eligible for DOHSA benefits. These benefits only occur in the event of a high seas death outside the 3 mile coastline. For instance, on a cruise ship, the passengers who are using the cruise ship’s service are covered under DOHSA in the event of wrongful death. This also holds true for families of passengers who that die while in an airline disaster 12 nautical miles away from U.S. territory.
DOSHA applies only to maritime worker and passenger deaths caused by unseaworthy vessels and/or negligence. Proving negligence can be difficult, particularly because the incident occurred in foreign waters. It takes a detailed investigation to uncover evidence that proves negligence. Negligence is a failure to act with proper care or caution under the circumstances. These complex laws are why getting a Gulf Coast Maritime Lawyer is key.
Limitation of Liability
Maritime law states that the owner of a vessel may be subject to liability for any losses or damages that happen during the voyage. Yet, Many ship owners attempt to avoid responsibility for accidents and deaths that occur on their vessels under the Limitation of Liability Act. This act allows owners, in some instances, to limit liability if the vessel’s unseaworthy condition occurs without the owner’s knowledge. The act covers personal injury losses such as deaths and collisions. It also covers cargo losses like loss of property, goods, or merchandise.
The Limitation of Liability Act was enacted nearly 170 years ago. At that time, the hazards of maritime trade were extreme. Vessel owners needed protection. This protection came from limitations on liability to the value of their ship. Today, naval risks are still present. However, we have the tools and resources to mitigate them. Instead of using the Limitation of Liability Act for its intended purpose, some vessel owners are using it to limit injured seamen’s valid claims. They are trying to get around their responsibility to the hard-working employees on their ships. However, an experienced Texas Admiralty Attorney can challenge this act and often win.
Longshoreman & Harbor Workers Compensation Act
The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that grants workers’ compensation for injured employees. These employees work in the areas used for loading, unloading, crafting, and repairing a sea vessel. The LHWCA also covers workers who work on navigable waters within the US. The act ensures that employers compensate an injured worker when a work-related injury requires medical care, vocational rehabilitation, or missed workdays. The LHWCA also covers survivor benefits. The LHWCA has the same goal as the Jones Act; it just covers a different group of workers.
The key to the LHWCA is who it covers. It covers maritime occupations such as harbor workers, ship repairers, shipbuilders, and longshore workers. Additionally, the act protects private and personal workers employed on a defense base. Furthermore, it covers employees who work on the Outer Continental Shelf and those working as non-appropriated fund instrumentalities of the Armed Forces. Workers that are not covered under the LHWCA are seamen covered under the Jones Act or government employees. Also, intoxicated employees, employees who harm themselves, and workers protected under state workers’ compensation laws are not covered.
Do You Know Your Rights If You Are Injured at Sea?
After an accident, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure that all your needs are being met. Medical, legal, emotional, as well as financial needs are most important. It is best to meet with a maritime lawyer to know your rights. However, in an offshore accident a lot of things can be happening. It is very important that you know your rights:
Make sure you get medical attention. You have the legal right to select your doctor. You do not need to see the doctor or physician your business or insurance company may push on you. Often, you will need to see the recommended doctor for an evaluation. However, this is the extent of your obligation.
You are entitled to medical treatment. Under the Jones Act, your medical benefits are protected. So injured maritime workers need not worry about compensation for recovery. This is true regardless of who may be at fault for the accident. Furthermore, the Jones Act protects injured seamen, given differing opinions by doctors.
You are entitled to medical benefits and financial maintenance payments. Rather you sign paperwork brought forth by an insurance adjuster or not. It is in your best interest to be cautious of any documents brought to you by an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters do not work for you. They work to get the insurance company the best deal.
You are not required to give a recorded statement after any accident. You need to protect your interests. Insurance company adjusters and opposing attorneys will try to get ideas they can twist and use against you. Don’t sign any documents, approve any settlement offers or sign any statement without consulting a maritime attorney.
Get the names of coworkers or witnesses who saw the accident or perhaps even noticed a hazard that might have contributed to your injury.
Texas Admiralty Attorney
Maritime law can be complex. Although these laws protect the rights of maritime workers who become injured or ill, they can be challenging to navigate. This is why it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an attorney with a deep background in this specialized area of law. It is essential to select an experienced maritime lawyer. If you have questions about a maritime case, contact Walker Texas Lawyer today.