Protecting the Rights of Texas Offshore Accidents Victims

An offshore accident is one that occurs while at sea. Offshore injuries can occur on a ship, a platform, a dock, or even while in an aircraft while transferring to an offshore destination.

Common offshore accidents include falling debris or objects, crane or heavy equipment collisions, slips and falls, falling overboard, exposure to toxic chemicals, failure to protect against extreme temperatures, scaffold collapse, and explosions. These accidents can result in drowning; crushed, broken, or amputated limbs; burns, lacerations, or scarring; lung damage, spinal cord injuries, or traumatic brain injuries.

As an offshore worker, you are entitled to a safe working environment and you should seek compensation should an accident occur due to negligence or unseaworthiness.

If you have an accident or experience an injury while offshore, you should seek an attorney who is familiar with laws applicable to maritime accidents and injuries. These laws include the Jones Act, the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Worker’s Act (LHWCA), and the Death on the High Seas Act.

As an experienced maritime lawyer, I have experience with offshore accident cases that include injuries aboard crab boats, fishing vessels, fish processors, trawlers, catcher processors seiners, gillnetters, tug boats, oil response vessels, construction barges and dredges, ships, supply vessels, and all other types of vessels.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an offshore accident, know there is help available. I offer a free initial consultation, which allows open discussion about your possible claim and gives me an opportunity to answer your questions.

There will never be a fee unless your claim results in a financial recovery!

When retained as your lawyer, I operate on a contingency basis, which means I do not charge any fees unless I successfully recover money on your behalf.

If you’ve been injured in an offshore accident, remember these important rules:

  1. Do not trust the insurance company to take care of you. That is not their role or objective.
  2. Speak to an experienced lawyer before you discuss your accident with any insurance company.
  3. Do not give a recorded statement to anyone. Speak to a personal injury attorney first!
  4. Take action as soon as possible and reach out to an attorney right away.

As an experienced attorney, I understand what it takes to manage a successful injury claim, and I will take immediate action to protect you, enforce your rights, and get you compensated for your injury.

Offshore Accident FAQs for Texas Victims

What is an offshore injury?

An offshore injury is a personal injury that occurred while at sea. This accident could have taken place on a ship, boat, supply vessel, barge, deck, rig, or in transport via air.

What should I do if I am injured offshore?

If you are injured due to an offshore accident, you should take the following steps to protect your physical health and future claim:

  1. Seek medical attention and inform your doctor about your accident.
  2. Retain copies of your medical records if possible.
  3. Inform your employer and make sure your supervisor has recorded the injury.
  4. Gather any information that will support your claim. These could include clear photos of the accident scene, faulty machinery, statements from witnesses, photos of your injuries, and copies of your medical records.
  5. Contact a maritime lawyer that specializes in offshore accidents and injuries.
  6. Avoid signing any documentation or statement until you have spoken with an attorney.

Who is liable for offshore injuries?

Liability varies based on the claim, however, accident claims can be made against the employer, shipowner, marine terminal owner, or third-party contractors.

There may be other parties at fault, as every claim is unique.

How do offshore injury claims work?

The legal system is used to navigate your personal injury claim. Sometimes these claims have to be filed in State Court, while other times the claims have to be filed in Federal Court. Every accident claim is unique, and each accident has its own set of facts and circumstances.

While cases vary from situation to situation, they also vary from state to state. Each state has a different set of statutes (laws) for the amount of time allotted after an injury is sustained to file.

The best way to understand the claim process is to contact an attorney after you have been injured. You want to reach out to an experienced offshore attorney as soon as you.

What is my offshore claim worth?

The offshore accident’s claim would depend upon the specific facts of your case. Some factors that contribute to the claim’s value include:

  • Strength of your case
  • Available evidence to support your case
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • Past and future loss of fringe benefits
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Suffering from vision loss and/or hearing loss
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Loss of household services

The best way to know the potential value of your case is to reach out to an experienced maritime lawyer.

Can I make a claim if I am partly at fault?

Yes. In most cases, offshore accident victims can file a claim and win money even if they are partly to blame for the accident. This all depends on the facts and circumstances. This can be better evaluated at the free initial consultation.

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim for an offshore accident?

Under the Jones Act or the Death on the High Seas Act, the “statute of limitations”, which is the maximum amount of time you can wait after an injury to file a claim, is three years to file suit or settle your accident claim. Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, you have one year from the date of the injury, however, you must give notice of the injury to your employer within 30 days after it occurred.

Overall, the available time period may be shorter or longer, depending on the facts of your case, and whether certain notice requirements apply to your case.

This is why it is imperative to contact a qualified offshore accident attorney immediately after your injury.

How long do offshore claims or lawsuits generally take?

Under the Jones Act, if you are injured while working at sea, you have three years from the date of the accident to bring your lawsuit. If it’s a government-owned vessel you have only two years. There are also other statutes that may impede your claim or recovery. These can best be discussed in your free initial consultation.

How often to offshore injury claims settle out of court?

It is hard to predict how many actual injury cases and accident claims settle out of court. When a party “settles out of court” it means the case has not gone to a jury verdict.

A lot of injury cases do settle prior to a jury verdict, however, each case is unique and it is very difficult to determine if your case can be settled or if it will have to go through an entire jury trial.

The best way to know how your case might progress is to contact a lawyer to review the facts and details associated with your specific accident claim.

I offer a confidential free consultation to help do just that. This free session will help me gather the details necessary to evaluate your case and provide professional guidance that would help me serve as your advocate through this complex process.

Do I need an offshore lawyer or will any attorney do?

If you are injured offshore, your claim will fall under maritime law. Maritime law is unique and unlike a traditional personal injury case that occurs on dry land. Due to this, you need to seek advice from an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable about maritime.

When should I hire a maritime lawyer to represent me?

You should contact an experienced offshore accident attorney as soon as possible. This will allow your lawyer to guide you through the process, answer questions along the way, and protect your rights and your ability to obtain fare compensation.

Why does it matter if I am injured offshore vs. on land?

Most land employees that are injured have to follow the ‘state law’ where the injuries take place. On land injured workers may be limited to workers’ compensation benefits for on-the-job accidents resulting in personal injury or permanent or temporary disability. By contrast, maritime law gives the working seaman the right to his or her full damages for the negligence of the owner, the master, or fellow crew members. Being injured at sea usually gives a better recovery than being injured on land.

Is my injury claim worth more if I am injured offshore?

The general answer is yes. However, each claim and injury is factually different and needs to be fully investigated.

Job-related offshore injuries fall under the Jones Act, which allows you to sue for damages such as pain and suffering, lost wages and lost earning capacity, medical treatment for physical and mental issues, living expenses, and future treatment and care.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides a cause of action for injured seamen. It is not Texas workers’ compensation. It does not require payment, regardless of fault. Unfortunately, a seaman must prove negligence or fault on the part of the vessel’s owners, operators, officers, and/or fellow employees or by reason of any defect in the vessel, its gear, tackle, or equipment (i.e. unseaworthiness) of the vessel.

This means that the employer must do something unreasonable or negligent, or fail to perform a reasonable act that would have prevented injury in order for the seaman to prevail. Only a seaman can recover under the Jones Act. A seaman is a member of the crew of a vessel or someone who is assigned to a vessel or a fleet of vessels. For example, those who work on tankers, freighters, tugs, supply and crew boats, barges, and fishing vessels as a member of the crew are considered seamen.

What does the Jones Act law consider a seaman?

A seaman is a member of the crew of a vessel or someone who is assigned to a vessel or a fleet of vessels. For example, those who work on tankers, freighters, tugs, supply and crew boats, barges, and fishing vessels as a member of the crew are considered seamen.

Today’s courts normally consider a seaman a worker whose shipboard labors fulfill a vessel’s mission by contributing to its function. This definition rules out most dock workers. Although they do perform some of their duties on board ship, courts have decided that such laborers play no part in the actual functioning of a vessel. Some workers suffer a shipboard injury during transport to or from a job that they perform on land. Some contractors and others perform shipboard labor on a temporary basis.

Often, a worker’s qualification as a seaman will hinge largely on what percentage of his duties actually takes place onboard a ship. Further, at the time of his injury, a plaintiff seeking protection under the Jones Act must have suffered his injuries while in the employ of the ship’s owners. All others will need to seek recourse through the common law or some other applicable statute.

What is considered negligence in offshore accidents?

Negligence can include:

  • Failure to adequately hire, train, or staff the vessel
  • Not providing proper or adequate gear, protective clothing, or equipment for the job
  • Failure to follow or enforce safety measures, including the removal of safety features on machines
  • Improper maintenance of the ship or its equipment
  • Working in heavy weather
  • Defective or faulty equipment

What is considered unseaworthiness in offshore accidents?

Unseaworthiness can include:

  • Poorly maintained decks, gangways, and passageways, including slippery surfaces
  • Dangerous or extreme work methods, including excessive lifting
  • Inadequate crewing or under manning of the vessel
  • Loose or improperly stored lines, wires, and cables
  • Defective hulls, rails, and bulkheads
  • Insufficient lifeboats and malfunctioning emergency response gear
  • Defective or faulty equipment

What constitutes a vessel?

To meet the definition of a vessel, a conveyance must have the ability to move or be moved in navigation. Although this would seem to cover a wide range, it does exclude such things as fixed oil platforms that are incapable of providing transport.

Submersible oil rigs, on the other hand, can move in the water, and this fact qualifies them for coverage under the Jones Act.

The exact interpretation of the Jones Act often remains the province of the courts and given the speed at which technology advances, problems could easily continue to arise. Nevertheless, the act’s protections remain valuable for anyone earning his livelihood in the business of nautical navigation.

What is the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Worker’s Act (LHWCA)?

The benefits of the Longshore Act extend to any worker whose standard occupation involves the building, repairing, loading, or unloading of seagoing vessels. Under its terms, the qualifying injury can have taken place either on board a vessel on navigable waters or on a pier, wharf, shipping terminal, or dry dock in close proximity to them.

Workers covered under the Longshore Act include but are not limited to:

  • Dockworkers
  • Harbor workers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Ship repairers
  • Shipbreakers

Prior to its enactment, these maritime workers enjoyed little recourse when injured on the job. However, since the Longshore Act exists to close the gaps left by the Jones Act, workers already covered under the latter are ineligible for its benefits. The same is true of any maritime worker otherwise protected by workers’ compensation.

The federal Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) allows harbor workers (including stevedores, crane operators, longshore checkers, terminal workers, shipbuilders, marine construction workers, vessel repair workers, and others employed in shipyard or waterfront occupations) to recover the costs of medical care and two-thirds of their average weekly wages during periods of disability due to injury on the job. The LHWCA also applies to certain gas or oil rig employees working from fixed offshore platforms.

While these benefits are payable without regard to an employer’s fault, in most cases they will be considerably less than the damages recovered in a negligence action. The LHWCA prohibits the injured dock worker from suing his or her employer but allows the injured employee to sue a third party – such as a shipowner, or equipment manufacturer – for damages under the general maritime law, or state-law negligence proceedings.

Free Initial Consultation and No Out-of-Pocket Costs*

If you are injured and believe you have been a victim of someone else’s negligence, call me at 281-929-0110 for a free initial consultation. Or if it is an emergency, please feel free to text me at 832-797-7600.

*As your personal injury lawyer, I will only receive a fee if we recover a settlement or jury verdict for you. In other words, you don’t pay any legal fees unless I make a financial recovery for you!

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