Accidents that happen offshore — or onshore in service of maritime-related activities — are vastly different than other accidents that occur on land. Thus, a unique and complex set of federal laws may apply in the event of a maritime injury.
There are several unique maritime laws that apply to specific situations and categories of people, and the recoverable damages associated with each may differ.
The following maritime laws govern an employee’s ability to receive compensation in the wake of an on-the-job injury, accident, or illness; the requirements of maritime employers; and the types of compensation available an injured employee.
Death on the High Seas Act — When a seaman is killed more than 3 nautical miles from United States shores, surviving family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit under the Death on the High Seas Act. Family members may be able to recover compensation for loss of household services, as well as loss of earning capacity.
The Jones Act — The Jones Act is a federal law that enables an employee to sue his or her employer following injuries sustained while working on a vessel. The law allows an injured seaman to sue his or her employer for negligence and to receive compensation for past and future medical costs, physical pain, disfigurement, mental anguish, physical limitations, and loss of earning capacity.
Maintenance and Cure — Maintenance and cure is a legal doctrine that provides assistance to seamen who are injured while working on a vessel until they reach maximum medical improvement. Maintenance refers to daily living expenses, such as food, housing, and essential utilities. Cure refers to payments of medical costs associated with an injury such as emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, and physical therapy.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act — The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act allows many maritime workers to receive compensation for past and future medical costs, physical pain, physical limitations, and loss of earning capacity for injuries sustained on the Outer Continental Shelf, such as in an oil spill or oil rig explosion.
Unseaworthiness — When a crew member of a vessel is injured or killed because the vessel isn’t considered seaworthy, the injured employee can sue the craft’s owner or operator for compensation related to past and future loss of earning capacity, medical costs, physical limitations, and physical pain. The employee may also be able to file a claim of negligence against their employer or another responsible party. The unseaworthiness claim is separate from negligence under the Jones Act and may offer additional avenues for compensation and recovery of damages.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act — The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) allows employees injured on American waters or while working dockside in vessel-related activities to receive compensation. Employees who meet certain requirements are typically eligible for temporary or permanent disability payments, depending on the nature of their injuries, as well as medical treatment, transportation, and rehabilitation efforts. The LHWCA also allows certain injured workers or surviving family members to sue a third party for negligence in causing injury or death.
General Maritime Law — Even if one of the above acts do not apply to an accident, a maritime worker may also be able to sue a third party under principles of general maritime negligence.
How a Houston Maritime Injury Attorney Can Help
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston maritime accident lawyers understand the complexities of the various laws governing maritime injuries and corresponding damages. We can evaluate the circumstances of your injury, explain what damages may be available to you, and fight to obtain the compensation that you deserve.
We have decades of experience handling a wide range of maritime cases and obtaining maximum compensation for injured maritime workers, including some of the largest maritime recoveries in Texas history.
We’re proud of our work on offshore injury cases and our successful track record of representing people injured in maritime accidents. We have represented Texas residents injured in the Gulf of Mexico, at Gulf Coast ports of call, and in shipping terminals off the coast of Texas.
We provide a free consultation if you are seeking compensation for a debilitating injury. If you are the victim of a maritime accident, it is important to work with lawyers who have a significant track record of success — and who will stand up to insurers offering minimal compensation. Contact our Houston personal injury law firm today to learn how we can help you.