When you file a personal injury lawsuit, typically you are alleging that someone was negligent and that you deserve compensation for your injuries and losses caused by that negligence.
When someone is negligent, in a legal sense that means that the person acted without taking reasonable care — or failed to act in a way that was reasonable — to protect others from foreseeable harm.
To prove that you are owed compensation, you generally must prove to a jury that:
You suffered an injury or loss
Someone else caused your injury or loss
The other person failed to exercise reasonable care in causing your injury or loss
Each of these elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, or in other words you must prove it is more likely than not that the other person caused your injuries and you are owed compensation.
How Specific Maritime and Admiralty Laws May Apply
Unique laws govern accidents and injuries occurring at sea or when you are employed in maritime industries. What you must prove in order to receive compensation may differ depending on which maritime law or laws apply to your specific case.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a law that requires the employer of a seaman to ensure a reasonably safe working environment and to maintain a safe craft. An employer can be held liable for a variety of unsafe conditions aboard a vessel, or for his or her negligence.
The Jones Act negligence standard is more lenient than other laws, making it easier for injured seamen to file claims and receive compensation. A seaman, in this instance, is generally defined as anyone who spends at least 30 percent of his or her working time on navigable waters. Workers who aren’t considered seamen may be covered under the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, or general maritime law.
Under the Jones Act, the plaintiff must only prove that negligence on the part of an employer, vessel owner, crew member, or defective equipment, played a part in their injuries, no matter how small.
In addition to suing an employer, the Jones Act allows you to sue a negligent third party for compensation of your injuries and losses.
Maintenance and Cure
Maritime workers who are protected by the Jones Act may have the right to both maintenance (daily living expenses, such as rent, food, and utilities) and cure (medical costs associated with a seaman’s injury) if they are injured while on the job. You are not required to establish fault to receive maintenance and cure payments. You only need to establish that you were injured or became ill aboard a vessel.
Maintenance and cure begins as soon as the injury or illness occurs and continues until the injured seaman reaches a state of maximum medical improvement. Because maintenance and cure functions similarly to workers’ compensation, you may be entitled to maintenance and cure benefits without proving negligence on the part of your employer.
Vessel owners and operators are required to provide vessels that are seaworthy. When they fail in that duty, you may be able to sue for compensation of injuries and other damages.
A number of factors may contribute to a claim of unseaworthiness and help determine the responsible party. They include:
Was the vessel and its associated equipment in safe, working condition?
Was the vessel in compliance with applicable standards and laws? Could it reasonably be considered seaworthy? Note that “seaworthy” does not mean the ship is unfit for operation; it can mean an inadequate or improperly trained crew, slippery or obstructed decks, or other hazardous working conditions.
Was it adequately staffed with trained seamen?
Were safety precautions, guidelines, and procedures in place at the time of the accident?
The Death on the High Seas Act
If a loved one was killed while working more than 3 nautical miles offshore on a drillship, ferry, tug board, tanker, cargo ship, offshore supply boat, or any other sea vessel, the Death on the High Seas Act may allow you to be compensated for the following:
Pre-death medical expenses
Loss of household services
Loss of economic support
Burial and funeral expenses
Compensation under the Death on the High Seas Act is generally dependent upon proving that a vessel owner or other party was negligent in causing your loved one’s death. If you have lost someone you love due to faulty equipment, unsafe working conditions, or a work-related illness at sea, the Houston wrongful death attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C., can help you obtain the compensation your family deserves.
Collecting Details of Your Maritime Accident or Offshore Injury
It is vital to collect the appropriate evidence in the wake of an accident. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our experienced Houston maritime accident lawyers will thoroughly investigate your accident and collect the evidence that allows us to build a strong case on your behalf. Our goal is to obtain the maximum possible compensation for your injuries.
Whenever possible, maritime employees should act quickly when they have been seriously injured due to the negligence of an employer or another party in the following ways:
Take photos of the accident scene and surrounding area before the employer can correct any dangers or defects
Seek immediate medical attention from an independent provider
Report the accident to a supervisor
Document all injuries, no matter how inconsequential they may seem at the time
Make note of any faulty equipment, such as defective lighting or improperly labeled pipes, Talk with witnesses who saw the accident or who can attest to the vessel’s unseaworthiness.
Trust the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers from The Krist Law Firm, P.C.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a maritime accident, you will want a Texas maritime injury attorney to pursue every avenue for recovery on your behalf. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston personal injury lawyers will make every effort to ensure that your maritime injury claim in Texas isn’t a burdensome process and that the results help you move on from your accident. In our four decades of experience, we have won large recoveries for maritime plaintiffs.
Our Houston maritime accident lawyers have the knowledge, experience, and resources to win maritime accident cases — including a network of some the best medical, engineering, life care planning, and maritime industry experts in the nation.
If you are the victim of a maritime accident, it is important to work with knowledgeable attorneys who understand maritime injury claims and have a significant track record of success. Contact our Houston personal injury law firm today at to learn how we can help.
We have represented Texas residents injured in the Gulf of Mexico and in shipping terminals off the coast of Texas. We are happy to provide a free consultation if you are seeking compensation for catastrophic offshore injury. Call us today at .