Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer Serving Surrounding Areas of Texas
Our Houston maritime attorneys at Patrick Daniel Law are qualified to handle challenging maritime injury situations that other Houston maritime law firms deem to be overly complex.
Admiralty law, usually referred to as Houston maritime injury law, is rife with peculiarities and contradictions.
These discrepancies are only visible to an expert marine accident lawyer, and we do so in every case that comes to our Houston law office.
In some marine circumstances, Houston maritime workers are at a disadvantage. They have a few benefits over typical maritime injury claims. But only a knowledgeable Houston maritime lawyer will be able to make sense of everything.
Therefore, if you’ve been hurt at sea and need a Houston maritime accident attorney, Patrick Daniel Law is here to help, whether you’re in Houston, Harris County, Pasadena, Baytown, or the distant suburbs. Request a free consultation with one of our Houston maritime attorneys.
With 20 years of experience practicing maritime law in Houston, Texas, and around the Gulf Coast, Patrick Daniel is a legend among Houston maritime lawyers.
Patrick Daniel has considerable knowledge of Houston maritime law cases and the work that is done at sea by employees of hundreds of Houston maritime enterprises. Patrick Daniel has argued maritime damage cases from both sides.
An overview of the Houston maritime injury cases he has managed in Texas and overseas is shown below:
- accidents on jack-up rigs
- Deck mishaps
- Tugboat mishaps
- Petroleum platform mishaps
- Barge mishaps
- Accidents in commercial fishing
- cargo ship collisions
- shipyard mishaps
Law Houston Maritime
Houston is considerably more than just an aerospace and energy hub. According to a recent survey, Houston, Texas is the second-most populous city in the nation for jobs involving maritime transportation of cargo between U.S. ports.
More people work in the maritime sector only in nearby New Orleans. Texas ranks third in the nation for cargo transportation between American ports when the labor force from all Texas ports is taken into account.
More than 200 private and public ports make up the Port of Houston, which annually handles more than 8200 seagoing vessels and 215,000 barges. The Houston region is home to thousands of maritime workers.
Therefore, it should not be surprising that Houston is home to many maritime injury cases. A marine injury lawyer in Houston will frequently be needed to safeguard their rights and assist them in recovering damages that result from their maritime injury because maritime employees who are hurt at sea do not always have access to the same legal options as land-based workers.
Maritime Attorneys in Houston
Houston maritime attorneys are in great supply and are well-versed in maritime law, but the experience is essential. Patrick Daniel, the founder, and preeminent maritime accident attorney has battled hundreds of marine injury claims and obtained sizable recoveries for his clients.
However, this procedure calls for much more than just an accomplished trial lawyer. Any Houston, Texas lawyer who wants to defend marine employees needs to be familiar with the demanding, brutal, and raw nature of the job.
That is what distinguishes Patrick Daniel Law from other Houston, Texas, law businesses. He is adept at the task. He was raised in Louisiana and has 20 years of experience in maritime litigation, some of it from the opposing side of the bench.
It’s a Different World When You Work at Sea
Marine lawyer in Houston
There are hundreds of maritime businesses in Houston, and despite their claims that they value their workers and the sacrifices they make, you can tell how much or how little they care by one slip on a slick deck or one falling pallet of cargo in rough waves.
Don’t assume your company will treat you fairly if you are hurt at sea, and make sure your medical expenses are paid for. Numerous Houston maritime attorneys will be happy to point out that when an injury happens, the game completely changes.
Additionally, there are various rules for employees who work on ships vs those who work on the land. In marine law proceedings, defendants attempt to conceal themselves behind the complexities of maritime law, hoping the injured party is unaware of them.
For instance, accidents sustained at sea are not covered by Workman’s Comp. However, because of the federal Jones Act, maritime workers now have the legal right to sue their employers for compensation.
Additionally, companies are now required to maintain their vessels to ensure that they are seaworthy and safe to work on.
Admiralty law and maritime law are the same things.
What does maritime imply, then? Maritime refers to anything having to do with the sea literally. This applies to both military operations and commercial shipping and transportation.
Admiralty law, which is also referred to as maritime law, is the body of regulations governing the nautical activity.
The Law of the Sea, which regulates international trade, mineral rights, jurisdiction over coastal waters, treaties, and international relations, differs from maritime law.
Admiralty disputes are more regional in scope and involve civil lawsuits, private parties, public entities, and agents of those public entities.
Maritime Injury Claim Types
How to Contact a Maritime Attorney
When should I call a lawyer after a maritime accident? The short answer is “as soon as your ship docks in Houston.”
Call or speak with an attorney as soon as you can if you have access to a cell phone or Wi-Fi while traveling and are allowed to make personal phone calls.
If you utilize that time to phone an attorney, the management cannot discipline you if your ship permits employees to make personal calls!
Making the impression that you’re a “team” player who doesn’t want to cause a commotion by threatening legal action is a common error made by employees.
Protecting an image that won’t even help you in the long term may come at a significant cost. Many Houston marine workers – or former workers who are no longer able to work – wish they had phoned a lawyer as soon as possible following their accident.
Despite all the blogs and websites that try to give you advice on a do-it-yourself courtroom strategy, don’t attempt to evaluate whether you have a case worth filing on your own.
Make a wise choice and contact legal counsel. With so many victories in admiralty matters, Patrick Daniel is usually able to identify a case that has a chance of success within the first few minutes of a free consultation.
You won’t incur any out-of-pocket costs if Patrick Daniel Law takes your case because the attorney’s fee will be deducted from the ultimate settlement.
The Jones Act of 1920 and the Merchant Marine Act
Even if you’re a U.S. citizen working for a U.S.-based corporation on a ship with a U.S. registration once you sail out of Houston and leave the national boundaries of the United States, several laws created for your protection no longer apply. Thankfully, new laws come into effect that modifies or even reinstate some of those protections.
The Merchant Marine Act is one such regulation. It is a comprehensive law that contains rules controlling marine trade between American ports in international waterways.
The Jones Act’s Section 27 mandates that only vessels made in the United States be used to transport goods between U.S. ports.
Although the terms “Marine Commerce Act” and “Jones Act” are frequently used interchangeably, the Jones Act is a section of the Marine Commerce Act.
The rights of maritime workers are a central theme of other clauses in the Jones Act. These clauses contain, among many others:
The vessel’s owner is required to maintain it with reasonable care to ensure its safety and seaworthiness. If harm resulted from the owner’s negligence, the owner may be held accountable.
If necessary, eligible sailors (formally referred to as seamen) who have contracted a sickness or were injured at sea may file a lawsuit against their employers to obtain just compensation.
The idea of a vessel’s seaworthiness is crucial because it can change the course of a case from one in which the best result would be the reimbursement of necessary costs (referred to as maintenance and cure) to one in which all of the victim’s losses are recoverable.
Who are “Seamen”?
The main clauses of the Jones Act apply to a unique type of worker known as a sailor. Filing injury claims is a legal acknowledgment that is crucial to the procedure. However, neither the Jones Act nor the Merchant Marine Act contains a legally obligatory definition of a sailor.
However, there is precedence, and maritime lawyers for both sides must sift through earlier cases to ascertain if the plaintiff meets the definition of a seaman.
To qualify as a seaman, one must do more than just work for one of Houston’s numerous shipping businesses and spend time at sea while doing so.
Instead of a formal definition, the majority of maritime lawyers and judges normally concur on the definition that follows, albeit it has experienced some language metamorphosis over time and is still subject to change.
“Seamen” is defined as “any person engaged or employed in any capacity on board a vessel, excluding scientific personnel, a sailing school instructor, or a sailing school student” (source).
That is neat and compact and a refinement of the earlier, more complicated definitions, but the Jones Act somewhat halt progress by requiring that a worker spend at least 30% of his or her time onboard, at sea, to be considered a seaman.
The opposing sides in an admiralty case can debate this subject for hours. But without a broad definition to guide us, it frequently becomes a roadblock in the way.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act if You Are Not a Seaman
Workers who don’t meet the requirements for the seaman definition may still be entitled to compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LWHCA).
Due to an injury, the injured person is entitled to compensation for losses such as medical costs, lost income, rehabilitation costs, etc., as well as survivor benefits if the worker passes away as a result of the accident.
This applies to dock workers, shipbuilders, and construction workers who suffered injuries while working in the harbor’s wharf area. The LWHCA’s provisions are different from traditional Workman’s Pay legislation and normally offer a little bit better compensation.
Presenting Evidence of Negligence
Maritime workers frequently have to rely on the Jones Act’s compensation provisions in the absence of the Workman’s Compensation safety net.
A marine accident lawyer should be contacted immediately after an injury because, in some ways, maritime personnel has a better system at their disposal.
Maritime personnel can bring negligence claims that go beyond the usual maintenance and treatment for some injuries by relying on the Jones Act’s provisions.
When they bring a negligence lawsuit, they can get a bigger payment and simply need to show that the employer’s carelessness even somewhat contributed to the damage.
In other words, the injury need not have been caused entirely by the negligent party. It only needs to be relevant in the tiniest of ways.
Employers may argue that seafarers must be aware of the significant hazards involved in working on a seagoing vessel, but this argument does not release the employer or ship owner from responsibility if something goes wrong.
Employers must build and maintain the ship by regulations, perform any necessary repairs, and guarantee a secure working environment. They must use “reasonable care,” anticipate probable accidents and take action to prevent them.
The manner the ship is kept is not the only instance of negligence. Decisions that place employees at a disproportionate risk occasionally need to be held accountable.
Negligent behavior includes, but is not limited to, requiring workers to do jobs in hazardous maritime situations, disregard safety protocols, carry out tasks for which they are unqualified, or deviate from standard procedures for handling seagoing cargo.
Different Maritime Injury Case Types
Marine law company in Houston
Maritime employees deal with challenges and endure conditions that would make most landlubbers fearful and hopeless.
Although they generally are aware of the risks they face and have different strategies for dealing with them and reducing the risks, accidents sometimes occur.
The following are a few of the most frequent mishaps that result in injuries for maritime workers:
Accidental falls rank first in terms of injury claims. Slips happen frequently in rainy weather and can happen in crew quarters, on decks, and even in stairwells.
Bumps and crashes – Workers might be crushed by swinging booms, cranes, dollies, carts, machinery, and unsecured cargo.
Mistakes in lifting and carrying – Lifting large goods can be dangerous on a tilting deck in a swell. Even in the best of circumstances, heavy lifting is a dangerous activity.
Illness – Not all claims are the result of injuries. Crew members can occasionally get sick as a result of unhygienic circumstances and bad meal preparation.
The onboard medical personnel, commonly referred to as the infirmary or sick bay, is the only source of medical care for an injured worker when the ship is at sea.
If the staff isn’t properly taught, this may be a genuine asset or a significant risk. In extreme circumstances, a transport helicopter might be required, but whether one can be deployed depends on the weather and the state of the sea.
Don’t When Filing a Maritime Claim
A maritime accident almost always makes the local news on the ship. Something like that cannot be kept a secret. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the facts because, in the end, it will be up to you to clarify what happened, regardless of the severity of the injury or how it occurred.
As soon as management learns about your accident, they will naturally want to speak with you. Always exercise extreme caution when speaking. While you don’t want to be impolite or unhelpful, you must stand up for what you want.
Do not, under any circumstances, agree to a recorded statement. A recorded statement cannot be demanded of you at any stage of the procedure.
If you choose to work with a marine attorney and submit a claim, the amount of your compensation will be directly related to how negligent the employer or ship owner was.
Anything you say before the matter goes to court can be twisted and used against you by insurance company adjusters and the attorneys on their side since they are masters of manipulation. Don’t believe you can outwit an experienced professional!
Without first seeking the advice of a marine attorney, never sign any contracts, accept any settlement proposals, or make any statements.
What to Do When Filing Your Maritime Claim
However, as part of the claims procedure, do complete an accident report. The distinction is that you have control when completing an accident report.
Without being forced to respond to tricky inquiries at the moment, you have time to consider your responses and establish the facts.
Obtain the names of any coworkers or bystanders who witnessed the event or possibly even identified a potential safety risk that contributed to your injuries.
Make contact with Houston’s Daniel Patrick Law right away. They will review your case, assist you with the accident report, and aid in creating a succinct summary of the incident.
They can tell you if your lawsuit is likely to succeed and, if so, how much compensation you might be entitled to based on the private information you provide them.
When you hire a maritime lawyer, things change
Information spreads swiftly in Houston thanks to the city’s high business density, particularly among those in the maritime sector.
The other businesses in the Houston region pay attention when one of the enterprises is sued in court for maritime injuries.
To be quite honest, neither party in a marine injury case wants the case to go to trial. Many don’t. In actuality, the majority don’t.
When a marine attorney joins the case to represent the victim, the other side frequently determines at the last minute that an out-of-court settlement is in their best interests.
A more substantial and equitable offer is frequently made in place of the original “sign here and we’ll be done with this” one.
Techniques of intimidation usually stop, and for the most part, they’ll leave you alone and speak to your lawyer directly.
Never try to file a maritime injury claim on your own. Maritime law is very different from the types of laws you might be accustomed to.
It is also constantly changing. Since their origin, the Jones Act and the Merchant Marine Act have undergone numerous amendments. Currently, there are proposals for more revisions and even for their repeal.
How Does Your Maritime Case Compare to These Example Cases?
Even though Houston-based maritime companies and their workers have been involved in hundreds of marine injury claims, fresh cases continue to emerge. The following American cases serve as models for potential future instances that may be comparable.
American Seafoods v. Hoffas (2018)
A crane operator injured himself while attempting to reach a control that should have been easier to reach. American Seafoods, the ship’s owner and operator, was found responsible for failing to provide a safe work environment.
The employee was required to operate a mid-ship crane on the trawl deck by his superiors. Normally, a wireless remote control could be used to control the crane, allowing workers to use it in adverse weather.
The remote control, however, was not in use on the day of the accident because the chief engineer had pulled it out of commission so that the crew wouldn’t lose it.
The worker had to ascend a ladder to the control tower to use the crane. Even per written corporate policy, which stated that the ladder had to have evenly spaced rungs, the ladder was subpar. The worker fell because this ladder lacked rungs that were adequately spaced apart and a handrail, seriously injuring his knee.
The ladder’s failure to adhere to even the company’s written safety policy was the basis for the case’s victory. The award totaled $900,000.
Trawler Racer Inc. v. Mitchell (1960)
This case reached the U.S. Supreme Court all the way and set a contemporary standard for what qualifies as seaworthiness and reasonable care.
On the fishing boat Racer, Frank C. Mitchell slipped on a stairway due to a muck on the handrail. He filed a lawsuit claiming carelessness and un-seaworthiness of the ship.
The ship’s owner claimed that the crew was unaware of the handrail’s condition, that it was only temporary, and that the vessel had been maintained with reasonable care.
The Jones Act’s standard maintenance and cure for negligence were upheld by the jury, who found both parties to be in the right. However, the defendant was found not guilty of the allegation of un-seaworthiness.
Mitchell appealed the decision, alleging that the trial judge erred in instructing the jury that the defendant had to have been aware of the slime on the handrail and made a decision not to address it for the jury to find the plaintiff’s petition for un-seaworthiness.
Based on the assumption that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the ship’s crew was aware of the slime in advance, the appellate court agreed with the lower court. However, the case was reversed when it eventually made it to the US Supreme Court.
Associate Justice Potter Stewart, who authored the court’s ruling, stated that a ship owner’s obligation to supply a seaworthy vessel extends beyond just exercising reasonable care and that a temporary issue that renders a vessel unseaworthy does not absolve the owner of responsibility.
Scurlock Marine Inc., Gautreaux (1995)
When an electric winch suddenly triggered, Gautreaux (the first name withheld) was severely hurt when a manual crank handle he had placed on top of the winch flew off. He had been using the manual crank to unstick the stuck winch. Gautreaux was struck in the face and eye by the crank handle.
Gautreaux claimed he had not received the required instruction in using the manual crank and filed a lawsuit against Scurlock Marine for carelessness and failing to deliver a seaworthy vessel.
Scurlock argued against this, claiming that Gautreaux had received extensive training on the towboat Brooke Lynn, the scene of the accident, including instruction on how to use the manual winch crank. They claimed he ought to have taken better precautions to ensure his security.
A seaman is only required to take “slight care” to ensure his safety under the Jones Act, but his employer is bound to a much greater level to ensure a safe working environment. The legal team for Scurlock claimed that the court had erroneously applied the statute.
No matter how fair or accurate the “slight care” clause in the Jones Act may be, the court ruled that it could not be changed.
It went on to say that it would be up to higher courts to adjust how the clause is interpreted and lawmakers to reform the law itself.
Scurlock was given $854,000. The jury assigned Scurlock 95% of the blame and 5% to Gautreaux. Later, an appellate judge lowered that sum to $736,925.
Houston maritime attorney with experience
You’re not alone if the case examples above left you perplexed. It is difficult to understand, open to many interpretations, and prone to change.
Patrick Daniel Law is the ideal choice for handling your maritime injury case. Patrick Daniel initially handled defense-side instances involving maritime injuries.
He gained experience by studying the maritime negligence defense’s methods, such as hiding witnesses and evidence, using delay strategies, stalemating, and intimidation.
He converted to the plaintiff’s side of maritime law twenty years ago, and he has since developed into an ardent supporter of individuals who has sustained marine injuries.
As a skilled trial lawyer, he is not only a master craftsman in the courtroom and at the negotiating table, but he is also knowledgeable in his field.
He is a native of Louisiana and grew up among those employed in the maritime sector. Even on the high seas and on the outer continental shelf, he has defended those who work on offshore oil rigs, jack-up rigs, drilling rigs, anchor handling ships, towboats, crew boats, and other vessels.
Patrick won’t be confused by marine jargon, and neither will the people on the other side of the courtroom. T
he practice of Patrick Daniel Law is not confined to the Gulf Coast or even Houston, Texas. Clients have come to him from as far away as North Carolina as well as Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
For a free consultation, get in touch with Patrick Daniel Law. We’ll let you know if your maritime case has a chance of success. We’ll also let you know if you don’t if we don’t.
Until your marine injury lawsuit is successfully resolved on your behalf, there is no fee. Don’t let a dishonest business or ship owner evade their responsibility to compensate you for your loss. Patrick Daniel Law is on your side, and so is the law.
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