When a worker in the maritime industry suffers injuries or is killed on the job, the nature of their work involving them being on open waters means that there is no state to file a workers’ compensation claim in. Instead, these workers will usually have to file one of two kinds of federal disability claims.
Seamen and masters or members of a crew are covered by the Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. People who are not crew members but whose injuries occur on navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining areas like docks, wharves, piers, terminals, and areas used for loading and unloading vessels are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a maritime accident involving a possible Jones Act or LHWCA claim in Southeast Texas, know that these types of actions can be very complicated. You do not want to handle these issues on your own and will be best served to retain legal counsel.
Portner Bond, PLLC helps workers who have been hurt in the greater Beaumont area, as well as those who were injured while working at sea. You can have our Beaumont Jones Act/maritime law attorneys answer all of your legal questions when you call (409) 838-4444 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.
Do I Need A Maritime Law/Jones Act Lawyer?
The owner of the vessel that you were injured on may discourage you from filing an injury claim, but you should never hesitate to exercise your rights. You will want to have an attorney for assistance dealing with many of the challenges that are likely to arise.
As well as helping you file a Jones Act or LHWCA claim, Portner Bond, PLLC will also be able to step in and handle all conversations with insurance companies on your behalf. This is important because many victims speak to insurers on their own and say things that ultimately damage their cases.
For example, an insurance company may ask you to provide a recorded statement to a claims adjuster, supposedly to assist in their investigation. In truth, these statements are often used to get victims to unknowingly admit to negligence.
In other cases, an insurance company could be quick to try and offer a lump sum settlement. Never assume this is the only offer you will see, as most initial offers are significantly less than what a lawyer will be able to negotiate.
Why Choose Portner Bond, PLLC To Handle My Case?
The injury lawyers of Portner Bond, PLLC not only helps people in Beaumont but also many other nearby areas such as Nederland, Orange, Galveston, The Woodlands, Vidor, Bronson, Groves, Conroe, Houston, Port Arthur, Texas City, Port Neches, Friendswood, Pasadena, Baytown, Sugar Land, Crystal Beach, Humble, and Jasper. We also serve many other neighboring communities in Galveston County, Jefferson County, Jasper County, Tyler County, Fort Bend County, Chambers County, Hardin County, Orange County, and Liberty County.
Chris Portner is a member of both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, to which fewer than 1 percent of attorneys in the United States are members. He is also a member of the American Association for Justice, Jefferson County Bar Association, Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association, and State Bar of Texas.
Trent Bond is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a distinction earned by only about 10 percent of lawyers in Texas. He is the current vice president and a former director of the Jefferson County Bar Association,
Portner Bond, PLLC will work towards a just settlement to your case but will always prepare your case for trial and is prepared to file a lawsuit if necessary to get justice. We do all of this on a contingency fee basis so you will not have to worry about paying anything until you get a financial award first.
Types of Maritime Law/Jones Act Cases We Handle
Under 46 U.S. Code § 50102(2), the Jones Act, found in Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, requires ownership and operation of fleets by citizens of the United States. Foreign flagged vessels are prohibited from coastwide trade, also known as cabotage or trade between two ports within the same country.
The Jones Act lets seamen seek compensation for acts of negligence or unseaworthiness that they would not otherwise be entitled to under international maritime law. The Supreme Court of the United States set certain benchmarks that need to be satisfied in Jones Act claims with its decision in Chandris, Inc., v. Latsis, 515 U.S. 347, 115 S.Ct. 2172 (1995), as only maritime workers who qualify as seamen, can file a suit for damages under the Jones Act.
Workers who spend less than 30 percent of their time in the service of a vessel on navigable waters are presumed not to be a seaman under the Jones Act. Any worker who spends more than 30 percent of his time in the service of a vessel on navigable waters qualifies as a seaman.
The LHWCA covers traditional maritime occupations like harbor construction workers, longshore workers, ship-repairers, and shipbuilders or ship-breakers. Non-maritime employees can be covered when they work on, and their injuries occur on navigable water.
The LHWCA excludes certain individuals covered by state workers’ compensation law, employees due to intoxication, employees of the federal or any state or foreign government, and employees injured because of their own willful intention to harm themselves or others. Congressional extensions such as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), Defense Base Act (DBA), and Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act (NAFIA) do allow for the LHWCA to include other types of employees.
The Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) also extends to seamen under Title 46 U.S. Code § 30104. Maritime workers can be injured in many different kinds of accidents. Some of the most common causes of maritime injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Cruise Ship Accidents
- Container Ship Accidents
- Ferry Accidents
- Fishing Accidents
- Recreational Boating Accidents
- Shipping Accidents
- Tugboat and Barge Accidents
- Offshore Oil Rig Accidents
- Oil Tanker and Cargo Ship Accidents
- Crab Boat Accidents
- Crane Accidents
- Dock, Pier, and Shipyard Accidents
- Commercial Fishing Accidents
- Dredging Accidents
Workers can suffer a wide variety of injuries in these types of accidents. A few of the most common kinds of harm include, but are not limited to:
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Internal Organ Damage
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Nerve Damage
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Burn Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Muscle Strains
- Head Injuries
The family members can also recover compensation from negligent parties when their loved ones are killed in maritime accidents.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I am hurt in a maritime or longshore accident?
You want to be sure that you receive some medical care after a maritime accident. Do this even if you do not think you were hurt, as there are serious injuries that can have delayed symptoms. Make sure that you file an accident report with your employer as soon as possible and ask for a copy of the report. Use a cell phone or some other camera to take as many pictures as you can of everything involved in the scene of your accident, and also get the names and phone numbers of all people who saw the accident. Contact an attorney before you speak to anybody else about the accident.
What is unseaworthiness?
Vessel owners must provide all employees with a seaworthy vessel, and a vessel is unseaworthy when any part of the ship, piece of equipment, or crew member does not provide a seaman with a safe and suitable place to work. The injured worker is only required to prove that some element of a vessel made it unseaworthy and caused their injuries.
What are maintenance and cure?
Maintenance refers to a seaman’s day-to-day living expenses like food and lodging, while a cure is the seaman’s medical bills. The Supreme Court of the United States held in Calmar S.S. Corp. v. Taylor, 303 U.S. 525 (1938) that seamen injured at sea are entitled to maintenance and cure from their employers. Employers must pay maintenance and cure until the seaman is fit for duty or they have reached a state of maximum medical improvement (MMI, or the point at which medical professionals determine there will be no further improvement of a person’s condition from additional treatment).
Maritime Law/Jones Act: By the Numbers
The Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that marine accidents killed 1,163 people in 2017. Victims included 1,087 people killed in 27 events involving passenger ships, 22 freighters killed in two events, and 54 people killed in two other maritime accidents.
An evaluation by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act (CFIVSA) of 1988 found that safety requirements contributed to 94 percent of the commercial fishermen surviving vessel disasters during 1997-1999. Vessel disasters were the leading cause of fatalities among commercial fishermen and accounted for 50 percent of fatalities in the United States between 2000 and 2014.
According to NIOSH, the largest number of non-fatal injuries requiring hospitalization in the United States was on-deck injuries, and 12 percent of fatal injuries involved commercial fishing. Falls overboard were the second leading cause, and none of the 210 falls overboard victims between 2000 and 2014 were wearing personal floatation devices.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there are over 3,700 marine terminals and 1,400 inter-modal connections in the United States. Ports across the nation employ an estimated 98,000 marine terminal and longshore workers.
According to the CDC, over 400,000 people across the country are employed in the maritime industry. The fatality rate for the water transportation industry is 4.7 times higher than the rate for all American workers, and commercial fishing has a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average.
Contact a Maritime Law/Jones Act Attorney Today
Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed in a maritime accident in Southeast Texas? Do not wait for another second to contact Portner Bond, PLLC to get the qualified legal representation you need on your side. Our firm is committed to helping you recover all of the compensation you are entitled to. Call (409) 838-4444 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.