Houston Maritime Injury Attorney
About Maritime Law
When a person is injured or loses a loved one in a fatal accident in Houston, he or she can often file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the party who is responsible. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code details who has the right to sue for accidents caused by negligence. Similarly, the Texas Workers' Compensation Act, contained in the labor code, makes it possible for an individual who has been injured on the job to file a claim against his or her employer's workers' compensation insurance policy.
What happens, however, when the injury or death occurs offshore? This is a major concern for many Houstonians, given that the Port of Houston is the nation's busiest port and the sixth-largest port in the entire world. An estimated 785,000 people work in jobs related to the port, in addition to many more who work on offshore drilling rigs on the Gulf of Mexico, commercial divers and people who earn a living as seamen on cargo ships and other types of vessels. When a person is hurt or killed in an accident offshore, where the laws of Texas do not apply, does the accident victim or surviving family have any right to pursue compensation? The answer to this question is, "Yes."
Types of Maritime Injury Claims
An accident claim for an offshore injury is possible thanks to a body of law known alternately as maritime law or admiralty law. Maritime law includes a wide range of different statutes that apply to certain areas of commerce and other matters, several of which have to do with the legal rights and responsibilities of those who are involved in accidents occurring on ships and drilling platforms. Some of the laws that apply most often in offshore injury cases include:
- Jones Act - The Jones Act is contained as a section of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, specifically 46 U.S.C. § 30104. This law provides for the right of injured seamen to sue their employers for financial compensation. In order to prevail in a Jones Act claim, it is necessary to prove that the injury was caused by some type of negligence on the part of the employer or a fellow crewmember, or that the accident was caused by unseaworthiness of the vessel.
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) - This law, found in the statutes of 46 U.S.C.§§ 761 - 768, makes it possible to recover damages against a ship owner if your spouse, your parent or other family member upon whom you are dependent was killed in international waters, at least three miles offshore. Similar to Jones Act claims, it is necessary to prove that the death was caused by negligence or unseaworthiness.
- Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) - The statutes of 33 U.S.C. §§ 901 - 950 comprise the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. This law is essentially the same as the workers' compensation laws held in most states providing a no-fault system in which injured workers can claim compensation for medical treatment and lost wages regardless of who is at fault for causing an accident. The LHWCA covers many categories of workers who are not eligible to sue under the Jones Act.
- Maintenance and Cure - The right to receive maintenance and cure is not found in any of the statutes of the United States Code. Instead, it has roots in the English common law and dates back nearly a millennium. Injured seamen have a right to receive maintenance and cure from their employers regardless of who is at fault. Maintenance consists of payment in the value of the food and shelter that the seaman would have received aboard the ship had he or she not been injured, while cure is the provision of any emergency medical treatment, hospitalization and rehabilitative care that may be required.
Let Our Maritime Lawyers Fight for You
As a Houston personal injury law office, The Daspit Law Firm frequently accepts cases involving maritime injuries and workplace accidents occurring on the docks. If you are looking for a Houston personal injury attorney who has the skill and legal knowledge necessary to get results in your case, come to our firm for help.
Contact our office now for a free case evaluation so that we can review the situation to determine what rights of recovery you may have and to estimate how much your claim for compensation may be worth.