BACKGROUND ON MARITIME LAW
Normally, when an employee is injured or loses their life in an accident in Houston, the individual and/or their family members may qualify to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the company or individuals responsible. Determining eligibility to file a lawsuit for accidents caused by negligence is based on Texas laws.
However, there are specific federal laws and regulations that come into play when an injury or death happens on an off-shore oil rig or at the Port of Houston. This potentially affects approximately 1.2 million workers across Texas since our port is the busiest in the United States and ranks number six worldwide. This huge number doesn’t include workers on offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, seamen on cargo ships, or commercial drivers.
The important question is when a person is injured or killed offshore, where Texas laws are irrelevant, do employees and their families have the right to pursue a financial settlement? Thankfully, there is protection in place, so the answer is yes.
MARITIME LAWS GOVERNING OFFSHORE INJURIES
Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, relates to legal rights and responsibilities on ships and drilling platforms and covers offshore injuries. There are several maritime laws that pertain to offshore injuries, including:
- Jones Act – The Jones Act is a section of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, specifically 46 U.S.C. § 30104. It gives injured seamen the right to financial compensation if they win a lawsuit against their employer. To win a claim under The Jones Act, the injured party must have evidence that proves there was negligence involved, either by a co-worker or the employer, or that the accident happened because the vessel was not seaworthy.
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) – This law, under statute 46 U.S.C.§§ 761−768, allows spouses and/or children of a deceased worker to collect financial compensation by suing the owner of a ship if the accident happened in international waters, at least three miles offshore. To win these claims, evidence must show that negligence or unseaworthiness caused the death.
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) – The statutes of 33 U.S.C. §§ 901−950 include the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. The LHWCA covers many categories of workers who are not eligible to sue under the Jones Act. This law functions the same as workers’ compensation laws across the United States so that regardless of who is liable for the accident, injured workers receive benefits to cover medical treatment and lost wages.
- Maintenance and Cure – This right is not included in any statutes of the United States Code. It comes from English common law and has been around nearly 1,000 years. It states that injured seamen have a right to receive maintenance and cure from their employers regardless of who is at fault. Maintenance includes the value of food and shelter the seaman was getting on the ship before the accident happened; the cure portion covers any needed emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, and rehabilitation.
OUR OFFSHORE INJURY ATTORNEY WILL GET YOU THE FINANCIAL COMPENSATION YOU DESERVE
The McLemore Law Firm handles many maritime injuries and workplace accidents that happen on the docks in Houston. You need a personal injury attorney with the knowledge and experience to fight for your best interests. Call Scott McLemore today at 713-888-0080 to learn your legal rights or contact us online.