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Leading Maritime Lawyers

Our Houston Maritime Attorneys Have Won Over $10 Billion For Our CLients

Houston Maritime Attorneys

We Serve Injured Maritime Workers Nationwide. Offices in Texas & Louisiana.

Just like any other industry, seamen are at risk for suffering work-related injuries any time they are on the clock. The courts recognize this and are continually working to protect injured seamen through general maritime law. Maritime law gives workers who have been injured offshore or in the maritime industry the chance to claim necessary compensation for any suffering of medical complications.

The following acts are foundational to maritime law:

Though critical, general maritime law is still the basis for all injuries sustained by seamen. It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the general law before delving into the subsequent acts.

Abogados de lesiones por accidentes marítimos y en alta mar en Houston

How to Choose the Right Attorney

Maritime law can be complex. Although these laws are designed to protect the rights of maritime workers who become injured or ill, they can be difficult to navigate. This is why it's crucial to seek legal representation from an attorney who has a deep background in this specialized area of the law. It is essential to select an experienced maritime lawyer. When choosing an attorney, you should inquire about the number of cases they have tried. Don't allow an attorney to dance around your questions; you need to select someone who is prepared to give honest, direct answers to all of your inquiries.

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  • $8 Billion Top 3 Largest Jury Verdict in U.S. History Arnold & Itkin LLP tried a Risperdal case against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn about one of the drug’s most damaging side effects: gynecomastia. Our skill, hard work, and dedication resulted in the third-largest jury verdict ever obtained ...
  • $357 Million Largest Workplace Accident Settlement in Texas history Arnold & Itkin LLP secured a massive nine-figure settlement against a transnational corporation for a workplace incident. The settlement set a Texas record for being the largest personal injury settlement in the state’s history.
  • $205 Million Confidential Settlement Obtained for Numerous Clients Arnold & Itkin reached a record $205,000,000 settlement on behalf of clients after several years of hard-fought litigation. The case settled just before trial was set to begin.
  • $171 Million One of the Largest Confidential Settlements in History Arnold & Itkin worked over the course of several years to represent clients in a case that many other law firms turned down. In the end, we were able to obtain a record-setting confidential settlement of $171 million.
  • $117 Million Largest Single-Event Personal Injury Verdict in Louisiana History Arnold & Itkin represented a pregnant woman who experienced stomach pain and called Acadian Ambulance. The driver of the ambulance drove the ambulance into the back of a sugar cane truck causing the plaintiff's spine to be severed at T4 and for her ...
  • $116 Million Confidential Settlement Arnold & Itkin LLP negotiated a massive nine figure settlement on behalf of their clients after several years of hard fought litigation.
  • $110 Million Record Settlement Achieved for Victims of Defective Products Arnold & Itkin obtained a record settlement for individuals harmed by defective, dangerous products. The result exemplifies our commitment to clients and justice for those seriously injured by the conduct of others.
  • $105 Million Record Settlement for Dangerous Product Victims Arnold & Itkin’s legal team helped represent those harmed by dangerous products. We were successful in recovering a $105 million settlement.
  • $97 Million Massive Settlement Secured for Refinery Workers Arnold & Itkin is proud to share that after months of preparation for trial, our firm was able to secure a huge settlement for clients who were injured in a refinery fire. Find out more now.
  • $92.7 Million Record Settlement for Burn Injury Victim Arnold & Itkin LLP secured a substantial settlement for a man who suffered severe burns in an accident at his job. The settlement set a new record statewide for workers with similar injuries.
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“Algunos accidentes nos afectan durante el resto de nuestras vidas. Cuando Oscar, un trabajador de una refinería, sufrió quemaduras severas en un accidente, supo que tenía que actuar de manera rápida para protegerse a él mismo y a su familia. Infórmese sobre lo que sucedió cuando llamó a nuestro bufete en esta video entrevista.”
Oscar Work Accident Victim

History of Admiralty & Maritime Law

Admiralty law (also known as maritime law) governs the conduct of vessels and incidents occurring at sea. Although most countries have their own laws regarding maritime commerce, seamen, and the conveyance of passengers, many aspects of admiralty law are recognized internationally through multilateral treaties. As ships provided one of the earliest methods for transporting goods over long distances, rules regulating shipping can be traced back to the ancient Greeks in approximately 900 B.C.

The concept of a separate legal authority regulating maritime issues was brought to the west by Eleanor of Aquitaine, who learned of the concept when she accompanied her first husband King Louis VII of France to the Mediterranean on the Second Crusade. The term admiralty law came from the British admiralty courts, who presided over maritime matters separately from England's common law courts. As the U.S. judicial system is based on the British system, amended admiralty laws were gradually incorporated into our legal system soon after the constitution was ratified.

Accidents That Require Maritime Attorneys

Maritime injury attorneys exist to help injured seamen or dock workers get the compensation they need to recover from serious injuries and afford long-term medical costs that occurred offshore. That includes any accidents that occur on "navigable waters" (rivers and ocean) and in harbors or docks.

Our maritime lawyers have represented clients who were injured in:

One notable aspect of maritime accidents is that they're often devastating. Offshore oil rig explosions cause significant damages, vessel collisions are frequently catastrophic, and oil platforms can unfairly change the lives of workers. Maritime lawyers fight to help workers recover compensation they deserve, whether they're suffering after a major explosion or have injuries caused by unsafe working conditions.

Our maritime attorneys represented more crew members of the Deepwater Horizon and the El Faro than any other law firm. We not only understand maritime law, but the practices and culture of maritime employers. Speak with us to discuss your case so we can go over your legal and financial options.

Features of Admiralty Law

Maritime law set forth many of the basic legal tenants associated with the sea and seamen, including:

  • The right of a rescuer to claim a Marine Salvage award for recovering property lost at sea.
  • The right for creditors and seamen who are owed wages to have a Maritime Lien against a vessel as a security interest to ensure they are paid.
  • The duty for ship owners to provide reasonable care to passengers.
    • If negligence results in a passenger injury, suit may be brought against the shipowner just as if the injury had occurred on land.
  • The benefit of maintenance and cure, which requires ship owners to care for injured crew.
    • Maintenance obligates ship owners to provide seamen with basic living expenses until they can return to work. Cure obligates ship owners to provide free medical care—even if that care is long-term or permanent until an injured seaman reaches the state of maximum medical cure (i.e., returned as close as medically possible to the condition the seaman was in before the injury).

Jurisdiction in Maritime Law Cases

In the U.S., jurisdiction over admiralty law matters was originally given to the federal courts. However, today most admiralty cases can be heard by both state and federal courts under the saving to suitors clause in Title 28 of the United States Code (28 U.S.C. § 1333). The exception to this is any matter involving maritime property; those cases may only be tried in federal court. If a state court presides over an admiralty case, the court is required to apply admiralty or maritime law rather than its state law.

How Does Maritime Law Provide for Hurt Workers?

Without maritime law, injured seamen would be left on their own to counteract suffering they sustained while working. Anytime a ship employee becomes injured or sick, the vessel owner is required to reimburse their losses. Maritime law refers to this reimbursement as maintenance and cure, meaning that until the seaman fully recovers, the employer must provide for their affliction. The court views this obligation as an unquestionable duty that the shipowner owes any seaman aboard their vessel. Seamen are also eligible to recover full wages for the length of the voyage during which they sustained injuries or illness. An employment contract may dictate the amount of unearned wages a seaman can receive.

Provisions for Maintenance & Cure

Maintenance and cure refer to the benefits a seaman is entitled to until he/she recovers and is fit for duty. However, there is a maximum medical improvement (MMI) limit that can control the amount of compensation received.

Because many ship owners are loathe to pay the highest amount possible, they either follow old rates (from $15 to $35 a day) or regulate cure benefits by hand-picking covered medical treatments. The U.S. Supreme Court states the duty to provide maintenance and cure must be broad and inclusive. In the case of compensation, the seaman is almost always favored when skepticism is involved.

Catastrophic Maritime Injuries

In some instances, an offshore accident can cause injuries that are so serious that they change a person's life permanently. These types of injuries are so notorious that the medical and legal community as a word for them: catastrophic injuries. When a person has this type of offshore injury, their injuries will likely impact the rest of their life. In some instances, certain injuries mean that a person won't be able to earn a living with physical work as they once didn't. In other cases, it means that every aspect of a person's life is impacted by the severity of their injuries.

Serious maritime injuries that change lives include:

Often, these offshore injuries require a lifetime of medical care. When workers are suffering from an accident they didn't cause, they deserve compensation for the care that will make their life as comfortable as possible.

Recovering Full Costs for Maritime & Offshore Accidents

Following a serious accident, injured seamen may face a host of costs. These do not only have an immediate impact but can affect them for many years to come. In almost all cases, the immediate effects are obvious in the inability to work, steep bills, and the pain and suffering associated with the injury or illness. Even the future costs of rehabilitation are often well-known. However, it is not always easy to see what the future costs of an injury will be. In some cases, the individual may require lifelong medical attention or may eventually pass away from the side effects. For this reason, it is crucial that the injured and their family recover just damages for the injury under maritime law.

Consider these costs that could result from a maritime injury or death of a seaman:

  • Hospitalization
  • Long-term rehabilitation
  • In-home care
  • Lost wages and earning capacity
  • Emotional and financial counseling
  • Vocational rehabilitation

Maritime Injuries: Do You Know Your Rights?

After an accident, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure all of your needs are met: medically, legally, emotionally, and financially. However, this can be difficult.

Therefore, it is important to keep in mind a few issues that could be compromised.

  • First, remember you have the legal right to select your doctor. Never feel obligated to choose the doctor's office or attending physician your business or insurance company may be pushing on you. Often, you will need to see the recommended doctor for an evaluation, but this is the extent of your obligation. Who you choose for treatment is up to you and should not be threatened by any employer or adjuster you may be working with in regards to your case.
  • Second, you are entitled to medical treatment. The provision of medical benefits is protected under the Jones Act, so injured maritime workers need not worry about being compensated for recovery. This is true regardless of who may be at fault for the accident. Furthermore, the Jones Act protects injured seamen who may be given differing opinions by doctors.

    This means that if one doctor recommends treatment while another claims it is not necessary, the disagreement will be resolved in favor of treatment. Unfortunately, many injured seamen have not been hurt for the first time. However, if a pre-existing condition is aggravated, then employers will be obligated to ensure that adequate coverage is provided. All that will be needed is an evidentiary statement made by your doctor on your behalf.

    You are entitled to medical benefits and financial maintenance payments, whether or not you sign paperwork brought forth by an insurance adjuster. In fact, it is in your best interests to be cautious of any documents brought to you by an insurance adjuster; these often don't have your safety and well-being as a priority. As such, you should be hesitant to sign any paperwork under the condition that medical benefits and/or maintenance payments rely on a signature.
  • Third, you are not required to give a recorded statement after any sort of accident and/or injury. Of course, reporting the incident as quickly as possible is a crucial step of the process; however, attention must be paid to the fact that many accidents can affect the memory and mental functioning of an injured person. Therefore, it is unwise to record a statement of events that may later need to be adjusted—a process that can prove to be quite difficult.

From the initial filing of a claim to the preparation and proceedings of a court case, there are a number of instances in which your rights can be compromised. Unsympathetic employers and insurance companies care little, if at all, about the well-being of injured employees. Therefore, is it imperative to seek legal representation from an attorney who does care about the future of your health and well-being.

Maritime Law as It Applies to Employers

Under general maritime law, ship owners are required to keep their vessels maintained per a certain standard.

As the employer and owner, the vessel holder must preserve the safety and structure of the ship in a way appropriate for all employees on board. Manning, equipping, and supplying the vessel are all key aspects of a ship owner's duty per maritime law. Subsequently, if an employee of the vessel becomes injured or ill due to a ship’s unseaworthiness, the owner will be held accountable for any loss.

Why Do I Need to Hire a Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer?

If you are not ready to consider litigation, you should still consult with an experienced Texas maritime attorney to discuss your claim. In many instances, your company may ask you to sign an agreement or release in exchange for payment of unearned wages, maintenance, or medical benefits. It is imperative that you have any documents you are given reviewed by a competent Houston maritime injury attorney before signing so you do not waive any of your rights to recovery.

Perhaps the most important reason you need a lawyer is that employers and insurance companies have teams of lawyers representing them. Their goal is to dispose of your claim as cheaply as possible. The only way to level the playing field with your employer or the insurance company is to have an experienced attorney representing your interests. As an injured employee, you are new to the process, whereas your employer, his insurer, and their attorneys deal with these cases on a regular basis. It is critical to the outcome of your claim that you have a team who regularly handles maritime law claims.

The Benefit of Hiring a Top-Rated Texas Maritime Attorney for Your Case

An experienced maritime lawyer can review your case's facts and determine your best legal options.

They will do this by examining the following:

  • Your worker status at the time of injury
  • The seaworthiness of the vessel you were working on
  • The timeframe for bringing a claim
  • All other factors that may have contributed to your injury

Another reason you may benefit from hiring a lawyer is that they know how to deal with offshore companies. On your own, you may feel like you have no hope. After all, you're just one person, and your company is likely an established corporation that knows how to handle injury cases.

There is no reason why you can't have aggressive representation as well. You may feel as if any attorney will do, but if you are an offshore worker, you and your company are bound to a specific set of laws called maritime law or admiralty law. You need a lawyer who is well versed in this specific and specialized area of the law if you want to get the full amount of compensation that you are entitled to. Turn to us when you need the best.

Maritime Law FAQ

What’s a Maritime Attorney?

A maritime attorney is a legal professional who focuses on helping those who have experienced injuries, accidents, and wrongful deaths caused by recreational and commercial maritime accidents. These incidents are governed by maritime law, which lays out specific roads to recovery for people who have been injured or lost loved ones on the water.

A competent Houston maritime attorney will have a thorough understanding of how maritime law affects incidents in national and international waters, plus the commitment to see each case through to a successful result. Often, maritime injury cases require extensive investigations, a thorough knowledge of laws that are hundreds of years old, and the willingness to try cases in court. Maritime companies are some of the most powerful in the world, so having an experienced maritime attorney is crucial to countering their tactics.

Do I Need to Hire a Maritime Injury Lawyer?

Yes, you likely need a maritime injury lawyer because laws governing offshore injuries can be complicated. Deciding whether to hire a maritime injury lawyer might seem like a hard decision. What you should know is this: if you were injured or lost a family member at sea, there is no one who can defend your rights and help you rebuild your life like a skilled maritime injury lawyer can. Your employer won’t have your back. Your loved ones won’t know how to help. It takes a powerful lawyer who knows the ins and outs of maritime injury cases to protect your interests.

Importantly, hiring a maritime lawyer also means having help from someone who'll seek the compensation you deserve rather than the compensation you're offered. A maritime attorney will investigate your case help make sure the other side is being fair. If they aren't they'll be prerpared to fight for your recovery in court.

What Is a Maritime Injury?

A maritime injury may include any type of physical or psychological trauma experienced at sea. Offshore workers, cruise ship passengers, crew members of fishing vessels, and all others who are injured or lost while in U.S. or international waters may be considered to have suffered a maritime injury. These injuries are often severe and life-changing, warranting the involvement of an attorney who knows how to hold at-fault parties accountable under maritime injury law.

Importantly, maritime injuries aren't covered by typical onshore laws. For example, injured maritime workers can't file a workers' compensation as onshore workers can. Instead, they'll need to use laws such as the LHWCA and Jones Act to seek compensation. In other instances, workers can use old maritime laws such as maintenance and cure to secure needed compensation after an accident.

What Is Maritime Law?

Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, governs the navigation and shipping. Maritime law is one of the oldest sets of rules used to protect offshore workers before the Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Death on the High Seas act. It provides basic provisions that make sure workers are provided with maintenance and cure after an injury.

Maritime law is complicated in part due to how old it is. In fact, the Maritime Law Association of the United States was founded in 1899. Since maritime law is unique, those in need of legal help should always look for attorneys who have experience with it.

Is Maritime Law the Same Everywhere?

No, maritime law is not the same everywhere. Although the admiralty laws of many nations have common roots, those nations have since modified them with unique stipulations. For example, the Jones Act is a law that only applies to vessels flying the American flag.

What Is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a law that enable injured maritime workers to secure the compensation they need for the full extent of their injuries. Before the Jones Act was passed in 1920, maritime workers injured by preventable accidents weren't able to collect the full amount of compensation that they needed for their injuries. With the Jones Act, workers can recovered losses such as medical bills, lost wages, the cost of future care, and so much more.

What Is Maintenance & Cure?

Maintenance and cure describes the cost of living (maintenance) and the medical expenses (cure) that an offshore worker needs after an accident. For decades, maritime law has required vessel owners to ensure that injured workers receive maintenance and cure after sustaining an injury.

What Are Common Causes of Maritime Injuries?

Common causes of maritime injuries are accidents that should have been prevented and weren't. Importantly, it's the duty of vessel owners and employers to prevent these accidents and protect workers.

Maritime injuries are often caused by:

  • Dangerous deck conditions
  • Toxic exposure
  • Explosions and fires
  • Unseaworthy vessels
  • Sailing in dangerous conditions
  • Lack of safety training
  • Enclosed spaces
  • Falling objects
  • Mechanical failures
  • Slip and falls

What Should I Do After a Maritime Accident?

There are five things you should do after a maritime accident:

  1. Get the medical attention you need.
  2. Inform your employer about your injury.
  3. Compile all information including when your accident happened, who saw it, and the circumstances surrounding it.
  4. Don't sign any documents, answer any questions, or give any statements.
  5. Call a maritime lawyer.

You should always speak with a lawyer after a maritime accident to make sure your rights are being protected. A lawyer will listen to your story, ask you questions, and help you decide what your options are at no cost. A consultation with our maritime lawyers if free and we've helped people in Texas, Louisiana, and across the nation recover after all types of offshore accidents.

What Type of Compensation Do I Qualify for After My Offshore Injuries?

This depends on what type of job you were performing during your injury and what laws govern it. Some workers will be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act while others might qualify for recovery with the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Defining what workers qualifies for assistance from these laws is not always simple. Speaking with our offshore injury lawyers during a free consultation is the best way to discover your options.

What If I Can't Afford a Maritime Attorney?

The right maritime law firm will help you afford their services. Injured maritime workers are often facing difficult financial circumstances and need to have special financial arrangements made with their maritime lawyers. For example, Arnold & Itkin LLP works on a contingency fee basis—meaning we cover all costs of a case and don't collect payment unless we win it. Besides taking on the financial burden of a case's fees and investigative costs, our firm has helped our clients get the medical care they need as their trial progresses.

Our Texas Maritime Lawyers Can Help: Call (888) 493-1629!

At Arnold & Itkin, we have seen all too often how maritime injuries occur not only in the Gulf of Mexico but also in our inland waterways and around the globe. For this reason, we remain wholly committed to helping injured workers and their families recover just compensation. We believe what we do is about more than just money.We work tirelessly to see that our clients recover not only financially, but physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Our team is dedicated to helping the individuals who have suffered from life-changing injuries recover the compensation they need for past, current, and future costs. Armed with years of experience, we have a unique perspective in our approach, and we can work toward helping our clients receive the compensation that they need to pay for the long-term costs.

If you believe you have a case that falls under maritime law, contact our firm. During your free consultation, you can get your questions answered and learn how our experience can benefit you.

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