Understanding Maritime Injury Law
Those who work on or around maritime vessels in Houston often find their work rewarding, albeit dangerous. At times, the dangers of the job can lead to significant injuries which preclude you from work. When this happens, one often asks “what now?” Some people are not sure whether to contact a maritime lawyer or not. Let’s take a closer look at maritime law and your options.
Maritime Workers’ Rights
Fortunately, maritime workers are afforded rights and legal options after being injured on the job. As a general rule, there are two types of maritime workers: those who meet the legal definition of “seamen” and those who work on or near the water.
A seaman is a person who spends a significant amount of time on the vessel and who contributes to the work of the vessel as a member of a vessel’s crew or captain. It is the first part of this definition—“significant amount of time”—which is often litigated. As a guidepost, at least 30% of an employee’s total employment time must be spent on the vessel, or in the case of a company who owns multiple vessels, on the employer’s fleet of vessels to qualify as a “seaman”.
Unlike their non-maritime peers, seamen are not afforded workers’ compensation benefits under state or federal law. Instead, a seamen is able to pursue other remedies, including suing their employer under the Jones Act for the injuries sustained while at work. Additionally, a seamen is allowed to pursue damages against the owner of the vessel on which he was injured, as well as receive maintenance and cure.
This is why it is important to contain a maritime law firm in Houston, who knows about distinctions such as these. You need a knowledgable admiralty attorney who knows how to dig in deep and uncover every aspect of your case. Your maritime lawyer should also be well-verses in the Jones Act.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law which allows a seaman to sue his employer. It also requires maritime employers to provide a seaman with a reasonably safe place to work and use ordinary care to maintain and keep the vessel on which the seaman works in a reasonably safe condition. Unlike most negligence cases, the legal burden an injured seaman must prove to recover under the Jones Act is much lower. That is, an injured seaman, under the Jones Act, must only demonstrate that the employer’s negligence played a part, no matter how small, in the seaman’s injuries.
Those who do not meet the definition of “seaman,” however, are not entitled to recovery under the Jones Act. Instead, these other class of maritime workers must bring their claims for maritime injuries under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This federal statute covers those maritime employees who work on or near the water, but who do not meet the definition of “seaman”. Recovery under the Longshore Act is more akin to workers’ compensation, but at a slightly higher rate.
Contact a qualified Houston maritime attorney to see which category you fall into.
Maritime Lawyers in Houston
Please do not attempt to determine on your own if you have a compensable case, you need to consult with an expert in maritime law. It is best to contact a maritime attorney who has the expertise and extensive knowledge necessary to determine who ultimately caused the harm and injuries you or a loved one suffered in a maritime accident. We are experts in admiralty law and maritime injuries, whether you’re looking for a maritime lawyer in Houston, a maritime lawyer in New Orleans or a maritime lawyer in North Carolina – we handle maritime cases nationally. We have experienced trial attorneys who are willing to take your personal injury case to the end to see that you win your maritime case. Contact our Houston law firm today to speak to our Houston maritime lawyers. Click here for a free maritime injury case evaluation.
Patrick Daniel grew up in Louisiana and has ties to the people of Louisiana. If you’re looking for a Louisiana maritime lawyer, Patrick Daniel is personally invested in your case.