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Maritime Accident Lawyer

The maritime industry is vital to the economy of Texas. Maritime workers are ready to meet the demands of their jobs. They are subjected to long hours, strenuous physical labor, extreme weather conditions, and hazards rarely found in other industries. Injuries from maritime accidents are often serious and can be life-altering. In light of these dangers, there are a number of maritime laws on the books that provide benefits and protections to seamen who are injured offshore as well as maritime workers in harbors and onshore.

If you have suffered injuries from a maritime accident, a maritime accident lawyer at Kraft & Associates, P.C. law firm is ready to help you fight for the full benefits available by law. We understand how difficult it is for an injured seaman or maritime worker to pursue compensation while trying to recover from a serious accident. Our compassionate Dallas maritime accident attorneys have a detailed knowledge of maritime laws and their complexities. We can handle all the details of your case.

Our maritime injury lawyers at Kraft & Associates, P.C. can evaluate your case and help determine which laws apply based on your worker status and the type of vessel and location where the accident occurred. We can help you understand your legal options, give you the tools to make the best choice for your circumstances, gather evidence to support your claim, and fight for full compensation on your behalf.

Don’t wait any longer to understand your legal options after a maritime accident. Contact Kraft & Associates, P.C. online today, or call us at (214) 999-9999 to schedule your free consultation.

What Is Considered a Maritime Accident?

Maritime accidents may occur on a ship at sea, on an offshore oil rig, at a port, or in a shipyard. They might also involve vessels like a tugboat, ferry, commercial fishing boat, crude oil tanker, barge, or cruise ship. A shipowner has a legal responsibility to provide a seaworthy vessel that is properly equipped and staffed by a trained crew.

Maritime law recognizes the hazardous and unique nature of work on a ship and provides important legal protections to seamen and maritime workers who are injured, such as the Jones Act. A seaman is typically defined as a maritime worker who spends a significant part of their time contributing to the work of a vessel in navigation.

If a crew member sustains an injury or falls ill because of the vessel’s unseaworthiness, the owner of the ship is liable to the crew member. As part of general maritime law, the shipowner owes the injured crew member medical care and living expenses, which are known as the benefits of maintenance and cure.

Some of the most common types of maritime accidents include:

  • Accidents on transportation to or from the ship or rig
  • Onboard slips and falls or falling overboard
  • Hazardous machines
  • Diving accidents
  • Vessel collisions with permanent structures or other vessels
  • Explosions
  • Chemical exposure
  • Crane accidents
  • Electrocution
  • Equipment failure
  • Food poisoning
  • Crane accidents
  • Drowning
  • Broken mooring line or hoisting equipment
  • Shifting of poorly stowed or secured equipment or cargo
  • Fires
  • Welding accidents
  • Vessels running aground or into underwater objects
  • Machinery accidents

What Are Common Causes of Maritime Accidents?

Some of the most common causes of maritime accidents include:

  • Lack of proper training
  • Operating in dangerous conditions
  • Fatigue
  • Unsafe living areas
  • Offloading errors
  • Swinging overhead loads
  • Repetitive strain or overexertion
  • Lack of fire extinguishers and other safety equipment and structures
  • Getting crushed by or caught in machinery
  • Ignoring warnings or safety precautions
  • Equipment defects or misuse
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Insufficient numbers of workers or crew
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs or other types of reckless behavior
  • Improperly stowed cargo
  • Employee negligence

Offshore Injuries

Maritime workers, such as seamen, marine oilers, ship engineers, water transportation workers, harbor workers, oil rig workers, longshoreman, and other types of maritime employees, face a wide range of serious and life-threatening injuries, including:

  • Burns
  • Bone fractures
  • Back injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Respiratory problems
  • Feet and hand injuries
  • Crushed organs
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Muscle strains and sprains
  • Hearing loss
  • Dislocations
  • Neck and shoulder injuries
  • Vision loss
  • Lung damage
  • Traumatic brain injuries and other serious head injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Internal bleeding
  • Torn ligaments and tendons
  • Paralysis
  • Amputations

Compensation for Offshore Incidents

Maritime workers have special legal protections provided by federal law because of the hazardous nature of their jobs.

Under the Jones Act, seamen have a right to sue their employer for injuries sustained in the course of performing their job duties aboard the ship if the injuries were caused by the employer’s negligence.

The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides for employers to provide medical care and compensation for lost wages to their workers who are injured on navigable U.S. waters or while loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel at docks, shipyards, and other locations.

Workers that qualify for coverage under LHWCA, such as oil rig workers, longshoremen, shipbuilders, and harbor workers, must file a claim with the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP) in order to get benefits. The act also provides benefits to dependents if an injury leads to a maritime worker’s death.

Our attorneys at Kraft & Associates stand up for the rights of maritime workers covered by the Jones Act and Longshore & Harbor and Workers’ Compensation Act. If an employer disputes your right to benefits or stops providing benefits before it’s appropriate, then you should talk to a knowledgeable maritime injury lawyer at Kraft & Associates.

Texas Maritime Laws and Statutory Reports

Federal courts have jurisdiction in all maritime matters. A number of federal and Texas state laws regulate maritime accidents and injuries, including:

  • Jones Act (The Merchant Marine Act of 1920). This federal law sets maritime safety, maintenance, training, and licensing standards and protects the welfare and health of seamen. The Act covers vessels in motion, as well as those that are temporarily in port.

Under the law, a seaman who suffers an injury or illness due to someone else’s negligence on the vessel or unseaworthiness of the vessel can sue their employer or another negligent party for full damages. This typically includes coverage for things such as medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, cost of living during recovery, and pain and suffering.

The Act also allows qualified survivors to sue for survivor benefits if their loved one dies due to a work-related illness or injury while working as a seaman.

  • Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). This Act allows survivors of workers killed in international waters (farther than three nautical miles from the U.S. coast) to recover compensation for damages such as funeral expenses, medical bills, and loss of income.
  • Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). This federal law helps protect workers off the coast of the continental U.S., such as construction employees, oil rig workers, and others on fixed platforms involved in the exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Public Vessels Act (PVA). This federal law allows maritime employees who are employed by the U.S. government or who work on a government vessel to sue the government for personal injuries and wrongful death resulting from maritime accidents on the vessel.
  • Texas Water Safety Act. This Texas state law requires boats to have safety equipment like lights and fire extinguishers and prohibits boat operators from speeding and other types of negligence. Under this Act, operators must report accidents that involve serious injuries or $2,000 or more in property damage.

Statute of Limitations for Maritime Lawsuits

personal injury lawyers in dallasThe Uniform Statute of Limitations for Maritime Torts covers claims for all maritime accidents unless they are covered by some other federal statute. This statute most often covers claims related to the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act.

Under this law, maritime workers or their surviving loved ones typically have three years from the date of the work-related maritime accident to file a claim. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, such as if a seaman did not discover an injury until later. In any circumstance, a knowledgeable maritime accident injury lawyer at Kraft & Associates can evaluate your case and help you understand which laws apply to your particular situation.

Notice of Requirements and Expert Reports

For a claim for injuries related to accidents aboard a U.S. government vessel, injured workers must first notify the government of the pending claim in writing. Injured workers must also wait six months before they can file a lawsuit. After the six-month period passes, then the worker has up to two years to sue for their injuries.

Workers filing a maritime claim based on the vessel’s unseaworthiness typically have to hire an expert to testify on the circumstances that caused the accident. They can provide an expert report on details, such as what types and quality of equipment are necessary to maintain vessel safety.

Contact a Maritime Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a maritime accident, call the respected maritime accident attorneys at Kraft & Associates, P.C. right away. To set up your free consultation, contact us at (214) 999-9999 or online.