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Legal Blog

Can a Maritime Injury Claim Expire?

A Deadline to File a Maritime Injury Claim

If you’ve been injured at sea and intend to seek compensation from your employer, you should file your claim sooner rather than later. Generally, the law bars you from filing a maritime injury claim anywhere from one to three years after your injury occurred, depending on the circumstances of your case. Once you file a claim, it does not expire on its own. Your maritime injury claim ends only once:

  • A court awards you compensation after a trial.
  • You accept a settlement from your employer or its insurance company.
  • A court rules against you (although you may be able to appeal).
  • You withdraw your claim.

One to three years may sound like a lot of time, but when you are piecing your life together after an accident, and possibly recovering from debilitating injuries, filing a claim may not be your priority. By the time you get around to doing your paperwork, it could be too late. For this reason, you should contact a Houston maritime lawyer at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible to increase your chances of successfully obtaining compensation.

For a free and confidential consultation, contact us at (281) 283-8500 today.

The Statute of Limitations Depends on Your Case

The United States maritime industry is diverse, and so are the laws applying to its various sectors. Depending on whether you are a seaman, harbor worker, or stationed on an oil rig, different rules will apply to your case. These laws will determine how long you have after an injury to file a claim for compensation.

Most maritime injuries are governed by one of the following statutes:

  • Jones Act – If you are a seaman working on a vessel that operates in navigable waters, the Jones Act enables you to sue the shipowner for negligence if you get injured. This type of claim is subject to the Uniform Statute of Limitations for Maritime Torts, which provides that your claim must be filed no more than three years after the accident that caused your injury, or three years from the time at which you realized you were injured.
  • Admiralty Extension Act – This law applies to claims arising out of injuries that occur on a ship owned or operated by the government of the United States. It provides that you must first submit your claim in writing to the U.S. government, which then has a six month period to investigate the incident and offer a potential settlement. After the six month period, you will have two years to file a lawsuit.
  • Longshore Harbor and Workers’ Compensation Act – Often referred to as the LHWCA, this law covers most maritime workers who do not fall under the definition of seamen according to the Jones Act, such as dock and harbor workers. The LHWCA has a relatively short statute of limitations that lapse one year after the accident, the time the injury becomes apparent, or the point at which your employer stops voluntarily compensating you for your injury, whichever occurs latest. Under the LHWCA, if your employer fails to provide the Department of Labor with an Employer’s First Report of Injury, the statute of limitations gets extended. In this case, you would have one year to file a claim from the day the Department of Labor receives the Employer’s First Report of Injury.
  • Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act – If you work on an oil or gas rig operating in the continental shelf, you will seek compensation for your injury under the OCSLA. This statute provides that the statute of limitations shall be determined by the “closest adjacent state” to where the injury occurred. So if you get injured off the coast of Texas, the two-year Texas statute of limitations would apply. For injuries occurring near Louisiana, on the other hand, the statute of limitations would run after only one year.

A Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you want compensation after a maritime injury or offshore accident, you need to know what laws apply to your case, and what legal strategy will optimize your chances of obtaining a good case outcome. You should seek the assistance of a legal professional with knowledge and experience of these types of cases. Call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today to speak with a Houston maritime injury attorney about how you can get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Contact us at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a free case assessment.