Why Choose the Buzbee Law Firm to Represent You?
Maritime law is ancient — originating before the creation of the United States — and complicated. With headquarters in Houston and Galveston, Texas, and through the experience of representing hundreds of Jones Act, seaman, and other maritime workers, our attorneys know maritime law.
Our firm’s founder, Tony Buzbee, is recognized as one of the best on the Gulf Coast.
Damages You Can Seek Under the Federal Maritime Law in Texas
There are laws meant to protect injured seamen, dock workers, longshoremen, and other workers in the maritime industry. These laws provide a means for them to recover damages for injuries sustained on the job.
The laws also allow dependents to collect compensation if their loved one dies in an accident while they’re working. These include:
The Jones Act
This federal law specifically covers seamen and workers who sustain injuries while at sea, on offshore rigs, on docked ships, and on other offshore installations. The Jones Act allows injured workers to file a claim and receive compensation for the following:
- Current and future medical costs
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Physical pain and limitations caused by the injury
To get your compensation, you only need to prove that your employer was, in some way, negligent in their duty of care. And because the burden of proof is low, you only need to show that your employer’s carelessness, even in the smallest of ways, led to your injuries while at sea.
The Jones Act also covers wrongful death benefits. So, if a worker dies from injuries sustained in an accident while at sea, dependents of the deceased seaman can claim certain damages. Again, relatives of the deceased only need to prove that the employer’s negligence resulted in the death of their loved one.
Death on the High Seas Act
If a maritime employer’s carelessness leads to a seaman’s wrongful death while they’re at least three nautical miles away from the shores of the United States, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) provides something called survivors’ rights to benefits.
This allows certain surviving relations to claim the benefits covered under the Act. But the dependents have to prove wrongdoing or negligence before they can claim the wrongful death benefits.
Even if there’s proof of contributory negligence by the deceased, the law still mandates the provision of those benefits to the surviving relatives –although the deceased’s negligence might mean a lower settlement amount.
The damages that beneficiaries can claim include:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost present and future financial support for beneficiaries
- Loss of income and benefits that the deceased owed the dependents
- Cost of mental health expenses necessitated by the death of the benefactor
- Additional household maintenance costs
However, there are limitations to the damages that the relatives of the seaman who died can claim, as well as, the qualifying circumstances. For instance:
- Surviving family members can’t claim non-economic damages like mental distress, grief, or pain and suffering
- The act only applies to commercial sea vessel workers – so, if someone dies at sea aboard a private or non-commercial vessel, their family members can’t claim this compensation
DOHSA’s coverage extends beyond ships and seas to aviation and commercial airplane crashes too. But to qualify for compensation under the DOHSA, the airplane accident must occur at least 12 nautical miles away from the shores of the United States. And even then, relatives can only claim noneconomic damages under the DOHSA.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides benefits to dock and harbor workers, longshoremen, shipping yard staff, and other port workers who aren’t covered by the Jones Act. These are maritime employees who do not qualify as seamen but are part of the ecosystem that makes up the maritime sector.
If you become ill or are injured while working with seamen or in some capacity in the ports, shipyards, or docks, the LHWCA can provide benefits such as:
- 7 percent of your weekly wages for as long as it takes for you to recover
- Medical expenses
- Compensation for permanent injuries, scarring, and disfigurement
- Permanent partial disability damages
In summary, the LHWCA provides a more robust workers’ comp than what’s offered by the state. But to get these benefits, you must first pass the status test –a test proving that your work falls under the job categories covered by the LHWCA.
Our maritime injury attorneys at the Buzbee Law Firm can help determine if you qualify for the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
This is an extension of the LHWCA that covers workers who are injured or deceased while working on offshore areas that are known as the Outer Continental Shelf.
The Outer Continental Shelf is the part of the United States extending from the land into its territorial waters and is at least three to nine miles off the baseline of the coasts of Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.
So, workers who become ill, are injured or are killed while working on temporary or permanent fixtures in the outer continental shelf may qualify for compensation under this law.
Unlike the Jones Act, there’s no need to prove negligence or fault. The worker only needs to have been injured while working in the region to qualify for benefits such as:
- Wage loss
- Medical costs
- Temporary or permanent partial disability
- Temporary or permanent total disability
- Survivor benefits if the worker passes from the injuries or is killed while on the job
Maintenance and Cure Law
This law specifically caters to individuals who work on vessels, offshore rigs, and other offshore installations. The maintenance and cure law ensures that workers are catered for while they’re working in these offshore locations.
Under the maintenance and cure law, employers must provide the following benefits:
- Adequate shelter and feeding
- Medical treatment in the event of an injury or illness
- Injured or ill workers can receive treatment from their preferred medical providers
- Daily wages subject to contract rates while the injured employee heals
Workers do not need to prove negligence or fault to get these benefits. The only basis for receiving maintenance and cure benefits is falling sick or suffering an injury while working aboard the rig or vessel.
At the Buzbee Law Firm, our maritime injuries and death attorneys will look at your case and identify the best law(s) under which you can seek damages. Then, using our considerable experience and skills in pursuing offshore accident and injury cases, we’ll help you or your loved ones get well-deserved compensation.