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
The following acts are foundational to maritime law:
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 ...
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.
Record-Breaking Verdict for Widow
Our firm won $222 million for a woman who lost her husband in an industrial accident caused by a faulty valve. We took the case to trial because the at-fault company refused to take responsibility. The jury saw through the corporate lies and double ...
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.
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.
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 ...
Arnold & Itkin LLP negotiated a massive nine figure settlement on behalf of their clients after several years of hard fought litigation.
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.
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.
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.
“They are great lawyers. Lawyers with integrity. To me, they mean family. They are my new friends now.”
History of Admiralty & Maritime Law
Maritime law—also referred to as admiralty law—is nearly as
old as the shipping industry itself and governs most accidents that occur
on navigable waters. The law’s roots can be traced back to the unwritten
customs of nautical behavior of the Egyptians and Greeks. However, the
earliest formal codes were established around 900 BC on the Greek island
of Rhodes. The original maritime laws and codes stemmed from the ancient
customs and rules of shipping. For example, the Doctrine of General Average—the
concept that all sea cargo stakeholders (owner, shipper, etc.) evenly
share any damage or losses that may occur as a result of a voluntary sacrifice
of part of the vessel or cargo to save the whole—can be traced back
to the early shipping customs of the Rhodians.
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.
Though still based on industry standards and customs, maritime law is largely
found in the U.S. Constitution, treatises and international conventions,
federal statutes, the general maritime law, and other judicial decisions,
administrative regulations, and customs.
When Does Maritime Law Apply?
Perhaps most obviously, maritime law applies to events that occur on high
seas—in other words, accidents that happen beyond the territorial
waters of any country. Furthermore, maritime law applies to the territorial
sea, which are waters within 12 miles of the shore. However, the law’s
applicability becomes less clear further inland. Early in the United States’
history, maritime law did not apply to incidents that occurred within
the “body of the country” and therefore excluded incidents
involving the Great Lakes and nontidal inland waterways. However, throughout
the 19th century, this exclusion eroded away.
Maritime law is now applied to “navigable waters.” A waterway
is deemed navigable if by itself, or by uniting with other waters, it
can serve as a “continued highway over which commerce is or may
be carried on with other States or foreign countries.” Consequently,
if a body of water is completely landlocked within a single state, then
it is not navigable for purposes of admiralty jurisdiction. However, a
body of water doesn’t need to flow between states to be deemed navigable.
A body of water may be deemed navigable if it is a link in a chain of
bodies of water that can be used to service interstate commerce. Ultimately,
the test is that the commerce of one state must be capable of being carried
into another state or a foreign country. Once this test has been passed,
it is likely that maritime law will be applicable, even if it is a recreational vessel.
Incidents That Require Maritime Accident 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 the 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.
The Basics of Maritime Law
Maritime law is derived from many sources: federal statutes and general
maritime law being two of the most prominent. These sources provide some
of the maritime doctrines that are commonly used in cases involving vessels
and their passengers and crew.
Maritime law sets forth many of the basic legal tenets associated with
the sea and seamen, including:
Seaman’s Right to Maintenance and Cure: Maintenance and cure are benefits that an injured seaman receives from
an employer during the course of recovery. Maintenance includes such expenses
as the seaman’s rent or mortgage, utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s
insurance, and food. Cure is similar to workers’ compensation benefits
for land-based employees; it covers costs related to medical treatment
for the work-related injury. A seaman is someone who is a captain or crew
member aboard a vessel in navigation. Also similar to worker’s compensation,
Maintenance and cure does not require that the seaman prove any fault
for their injury—the employer is required to pay.
The Jones Act: The Jones Act is a federal law that gives seamen a statutory right to
sue their employer for personal injury damages. However, a seaman must
spend at least 30% of their time working on a vessel to qualify for the
Jones Act. Not only does the Jones Act provide the seaman a statutory
right to sue their employer, it also eases the burden of proof needed
to prove causation between the employer’s negligence and the seaman’s
injury; under the Jones Act, the employer’s negligence only needs
to play a part in the seaman’s injury rather than being a proximate
cause. The Jones Act also incorporates aspects of the Federal Employment
Liability Act. In particular, claims filed in state court under the Jones
Act are not removable to federal court.
The Death on High Seas Act: When the death of an individual is caused by a wrongful act or neglect
occurring on the high seas, the Death on High Seas Act guarantees that
a personal representative of the decedent can bring a claim.
The Saving to Suitors Clause: Federal law establishes exclusive jurisdiction for admiralty and maritime
cases in the federal district courts absent any language indicating the
contrary within a statutorily created right, such as the Jones Act. However,
the “saving to suitors” clause reserves any non-admiralty
remedies that may be available to an individual. An example of an admiralty
remedy is a suit in which the claim is brought against the ship.
Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act: Federal law created certain statutory rights for employees who are not
necessarily “seamen” but nonetheless work on harbors or vessels
that are under repair or being built. This law covers longshore workers,
ship-repairers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers, and harbor construction
workers. Moreover, the injuries must occur on navigable waters or an adjoining
area, such as a dock. This law provides for the payment of compensation
and medical care for an individual injured while on the job or survivor
benefits. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act extends the Longshore
and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act to employees engaged in offshore
drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.
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
the 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 has 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 years.
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:
Lost wages and earning capacity
Emotional and financial counseling
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Hire 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 you.
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 prepared
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 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 enables 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 recover
losses such as medical bills, lost wages, the cost of future care, and 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
Explosions and fires
Sailing in dangerous conditions
Lack of safety training
Slip and falls
What Should I Do After a Maritime Accident?
There are five things you should do after a maritime accident:
Get the medical attention you need.
Inform your employer about your injury.
Compile all information about your accident, who saw it, and the circumstances
Don't sign any documents, answer any questions, or give any statements.
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 is free and we've helped people
in Texas, Louisiana, and across the nation recover after all types of
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 qualify
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.
What Are The Differences Between Maritime Law and Ordinary Law?
In many ways, there is little difference between how maritime law is handled
and how ordinary law is handled. However, some meaningful differences
exist, but those differences exist more so in the court rather than the
substantive law itself. For example, there is no right to a jury trial
when an admiralty action is brought in an admiralty court. Important to
remember though, the only cases that
must be brought in federal admiralty court are those enforcing a maritime lien,
foreclosure on a preferred ship mortgage, limitation of the vessel owner’s
liability, and any proceeding where the ship itself is being sued.
Is Maritime Law The Same as The Law of the Sea?
Maritime law is not the same as the law of the sea. Maritime law is United
States law that governs incidents on navigable waters. The law of the
sea is primarily based on international treatises and agreements that
govern how nations interact with one another on matters that involve the
high seas. For example, the law of the sea governs countries’ jurisdiction
over coastal waters, ownership of natural resources, and navigational rights.
What Does a Maritime Lawyer Do?
Maritime lawyers handle cases involving marine vessels, sea crafts, offshore
oil rigs, and harbor workers. Because of the nuanced law involving injuries
or contract disputes pertaining to shipping or activities on navigable
waters, experienced maritime attorneys are critical to bringing a successful
claim. A maritime lawyer must understand federal law, state law, the complexities
of marine insurance, and many other shipping and offshore drilling industry
specifics. This is a highly complicated field of law, making it crucial
to involve an experienced maritime lawyer.
When has Maritime Law Been Applied?
The most infamous application of maritime law may be the
Deepwater Horizon disaster, where 11 crew members were killed and many more injured. A federal
district court held, among other things, that admiralty jurisdiction was
present because the alleged torts occurred upon the navigable waters of
the Gulf of Mexico, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act jurisdiction
was present because the casualties occurred in the context of exploration
or production of minerals in the Outer Continental Shelf. When Arnold
& Itkin handled many of the crew’s claims, it was critical they
were well versed in maritime law.
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,
Our team is dedicated to helping people and families 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 we can help.