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Legal Blog

What is a Maritime Lawyer?

Maritime law is complex, requiring specific knowledge and experience handling cases involving the regulations and statutes to represent injured seamen effectively. At The Krist Law Firm, our Houston maritime lawyer have decades of experience handling disputes in navigable waters. If you have suffered injuries while working offshore, contact us to learn more about how we can hold the responsible parties accountable and get you the financial compensation you need to move forward.

Is Maritime Law Different Than Law of the Sea?

Maritime law and the law of the sea have virtually nothing to do with one another. Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is domestic. The law of the sea is international.

The law of the sea is a body of laws, customs, and international agreements that apply to all nations. United States maritime law deals with – among other things – injuries resulting from the activities of corporations and individuals in navigable waters.

What is Maritime Law?

Maritime law applies to private entities, such as shipowners, operators, and their employees. Like the law of the sea, maritime law slowly developed out of various sets of customs and rules.

Today in the United States, much of the traditional principles of maritime law have been codified into the following statutes:

  • The Merchant Marine Act of 1928: More commonly known as the Jones Act, this law gives injured seamen the right to sue negligent shipowners and others responsible for their offshore injuries.
  • The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA): When workers die on the high seas (more than three nautical miles from shore), certain designated relatives can sue the deceased’s employer for funeral expenses, lost financial support, and the care and emotional support the deceased can no longer provide, among other potential damages.
  • The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides a legal avenue under which non-sailors engaged in maritime industry work can obtain compensation for their injuries.
  • The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA): Under this Act, injured maritime workers who work on certain designated offshore areas can have certain crucial aspects of their claims affected, including the statute of limitations – or the time within which they can file a lawsuit for injuries.

What Does a Maritime Lawyer Do?

A Houston maritime lawyer handles a wide variety of offshore injury matters, including wrongful death. When a ship owner and other related parties have failed in their duties to keep a worker safe, an experienced maritime lawyer is needed to hold the negligent parties accountable.

Personal Injury at Sea

Personal injury cases at sea are far more complex than those that occur on land. Crewmembers and other maritime employees are not covered under workers’ compensation. Instead, there are three main legal areas in which remedies are available:

  • Jones Act: As mentioned above, the Jones Act allows injured maritime workers the ability to seek compensation against an employer. The worker must be able to prove that the employer acted negligently and that their injuries resulted from this negligence.
  • Unseaworthiness: Unseaworthiness is a legal concept that holds vessel owners accountable if their boats, ships, and other maritime vessels are not safe for their intended purpose. If a sea worker is hurt due to a faulty vessel, they may have grounds to pursue an offshore injury claim.
  • Maintenance and cure: Maintenance and cure refer to a form of compensation for an injured maritime worker. Maintenance is daily compensation for living expenses and lost income and cure refer to the payment of medical expenses associated with the injury.

What Are the Most Common Maritime Injuries and Accidents?

Maritime injuries and accidents can be severe, debilitating, and/or deadly. A life spent working at sea has many dangers, including:

Slips and Falls

Crewmembers can fall overboard or injure themselves slipping on the decks of a vessel. When a seaman falls overboard, they may suffer:

  • Hypothermia
  • Drowning
  • Amputations and lacerations from propellers
  • Crush injuries from falling between vessels

Slips on decks account for 43% of all maritime injuries. Cluttered walkways and slippery floors can lead to broken and fractured bones, head injuries, and spinal cord damage.


Drowning is always a serious risk at sea. In fact, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury. Workers falling into the navigable waterways are extremely vulnerable to drowning.

Port Accidents

Many injuries can occur while workers are loading and unloading heavy cargo. Maritime employees can be hurt by:

  • Being crushed between shipping containers
  • Falling from a ship, pier, or dock
  • Workplace motor vehicle injuries
  • Heavy machinery and equipment

Commercial Fishing Accidents

A fishing accident is a broad term that can apply to numerous private and commercial occurrences. Anglers can sustain injuries from:

  • Gear
  • Fish
  • Slips and falls
  • Drowning

Machinery and Equipment Accidents

Maritime vessels can be massive and involve a wide variety of heavy machinery and equipment. Commercial fishing boats are also known for causing amputations and crush injuries due to issues with hazardous equipment.

Fires and Explosions

When a vessel catches fire, or volatile substances cause an explosion, maritime workers rarely have much time to react. Ships often sink, taking any medical facilities and supplies with them to the ocean floor. Crew Members may be left stranded until help arrives, enduring severe burns, dehydration, and other environmental hazards.

Violent Assaults

Violent assaults can happen on maritime vessels. If you suffered serious injuries that may fall under maritime protection laws, it is important to seek immediate assistance from a maritime attorney.

How Can a Houston Maritime Lawyer Help My Case?

Maritime law is notoriously difficult to navigate. You need an attorney knowledgeable in the various nuances of admiralty law.

Our Houston maritime lawyers have successfully obtained multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients. Let The Krist Law Firm secure the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss the details of your case.