Offshore Accident Lawyers in Houston, TX
Accidents that happen offshore — or onshore in service of maritime-related activities — are vastly different from other accidents that occur on land. Thus, a unique and complex set of federal laws may apply in the event of a maritime injury.
What Laws Allow Maritime Workers to Recover Damages for Their Injuries?
Several unique maritime laws apply to specific situations and categories of people, and the recoverable damages associated with each law may differ.
The following maritime laws govern a seaman or other offshore worker’s ability to receive financial compensation in the wake of an on-the-job injury, accident, or illness, the requirements of maritime employers, and the types of compensation available to an injured worker.
Death on the High Seas Act — When a seaman is killed more than three 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 the loss of household services as well as loss of earning capacity, among other damages.
The Jones Act — The Jones Act is a federal law that enables an employee to sue their employer following injuries sustained while working on a vessel in navigation. The law allows an injured seaman to sue their 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 assists 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 a maritime 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. OCSLA can also limit the statute of limitations in many cases – or the time within which an injured worker can bring a claim – so you should consult with offshore accident lawyers in Houston as soon as possible after your maritime injury to ensure you file a lawsuit in time.
Unseaworthiness — When a crew member of a vessel is injured or killed because the vessel isn’t considered seaworthy, the injured employee or the surviving family members 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 bring a negligence claim against their employer and/or another responsible party. An unseaworthiness claim is separate from negligence claims available under the Jones Act and may offer additional avenues for compensation and recovery of damages.
Maritime Law — A maritime worker may also be able to sue a responsible third party under the legal principles of general maritime negligence.
What Types of Offshore Accidents Qualify for Financial Compensation?
Working or traveling by sea has some inherent risks; however, those who engage in negligent actions should be held accountable in court via civil litigation.
Common types of offshore accidents include:
- Falling overboard: Falls overboard are particularly deadly and leave offshore workers and passengers vulnerable to drowning, hypothermia, and lacerations and amputations from propellers.
- Slips, trips, and falls: 43% of all maritime injuries are due to slips, trips, and falls. Maritime workers can slip and fall between vessels, on cluttered walkways, and off of high scaffolding.
- Drowning: Despite the experience or strength of a swimmer, people are susceptible to drowning offshore. Offshore workers may fall into the sea releasing mooring lines, and the vessels they are working on may even sink.
- Dock accidents: Loading and unloading heavy cargo are inherently risky. When offshore workers haul the cargo on and off of boats, they may be hurt by faulty or poorly operated heavy equipment. Distracted drivers on the pathways may collide with or run over workers. Crush injuries are common when employees are pinned between containers or the vessels themselves.
- Fishing injuries: Fishing injuries result from a broad range of offshore accidents. For example, 725 commercial fishermen sustained fatal injuries in the last 15 years.
- Fires and explosions: When a fire or explosion happens aboard a vessel at sea, offshore workers have very little time to react. Ships frequently sink, leaving seamen little time to escape. Many will suffer severe burns, muscle death, and amputations; and, the limited medical treatment available offshore will not be able to handle a large volume of offshore injuries at once.
- Chemical burns and toxic exposure: Large container ships and other offshore vessels often handle highly toxic chemicals and other hazardous materials. Offshore workers are especially vulnerable to chemical burns and toxic exposure. On many vessels, the compartments are small with very little airflow, causing damage far quicker than in an open environment.
- Elevator accidents: Massive vessels often have elevators and similar equipment. If they are not maintained properly, they can trap body parts or cause serious falls.
- Heavy machinery and equipment: Offshore workers handle heavy machinery and equipment regularly. Commercial shipping boats, cruise liners, and oil rigs require the use of very hazardous heavy machinery and equipment. When not properly maintained or in the event a part is defective, workers can suffer amputations, crush injuries, spinal cord damage, and broken and fractured bones.
How Much is my Offshore Accident Injury Case Worth?
The value of every offshore accident injury case is different and varies widely. Speaking to offshore accident lawyers in Houston, TX can help determine the true value of your case and prepare you for the legal process to come.
Compensation for maritime accident injuries includes but is not limited to:
- Medical bills incurred due to the injury
- Lost wages if unable to work
- Loss of future income
- Pain and suffering
- Survivor benefits, if a wrongful death occurs
Offshore accident claims are dependent on a complex set of laws and the circumstances of the injury. If you have been injured at sea or in the course of maritime employment, our offshore injury attorneys can help.
How Our Offshore Accident Lawyers Can Help
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our maritime attorneys understand the complexities of the various laws governing offshore injuries and corresponding damages. We can evaluate the circumstances of your situation, explain what damages may be available to you, and fight to obtain the compensation that you deserve.
We have decades of experience successfully handling a wide range of maritime cases and obtaining maximum compensation for injured offshore workers, including some of the largest maritime recoveries in Texas history.
We are 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, among other locations.
We provide a free consultation if you are seeking compensation after being hurt on the job. If you are the victim of a maritime accident, it is important to work with experienced offshore injury lawyers who have a significant track record of success — and who will stand up to insurers offering minimal compensation. Contact the Krist Law Firm today!