Houston Maritime Attorney Offshore Work Injury Lawyer

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Seamen and offshore workers are at risk every day of suffering a serious injury at work. There are many dangers present while working on offshore vessels, such as fires and explosions, gas leaks, heavy objects falling, and extreme weather conditions. Maritime law serves to protect workers at sea and ensure that in the event of an injury, they are afforded sufficient compensation, including maintenance and cure.

Understanding maritime law can often be complex. Many workers are unsure  which type of maritime law applies to their injury claim. We have seen many workers accept compensation from their employers that did not adequately cover their injury costs and which they were not able to change at a later date. As such, it is extremely important that you speak with an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible if you have been injured offshore.

At Abraham Watkins, we have a team of maritime attorneys that can help you at every stage of your case. We know how difficult and stressful it can be to be injured at work and have to worry about paying for all of your costs. Because of this, we want to help you file a claim under the right maritime law to get you compensated for your injuries and ensure that your rights are protected.

Call us today to speak with a Houston maritime lawyer from our law firm at 713-535-9319.


Maritime law, sometimes called admiralty law, is a set of laws that applies to maritime workers, employers, and people injured. Generally, the laws govern all maritime accidents and events that occur on the high seas, such as oil platform accidents, dredge accidents, and cargo ship accidents. The ‘high seas’ refers to water beyond the territorial waters of a country or state. Maritime law also applies to territorial water that is within 12 miles of the shore.

Maritime law functions as one of the oldest sets of laws in the country, and as such, it experienced constant change. Traditionally, maritime law only applied to accidents and events that occurred on the high seas; however, it now applies to all “navigable waters” in the United States. Defining navigable waters under the law can sometimes be confusing, and most of the law that we use today is based on previous cases attempting to offer a clearer definition.

Currently, navigable water is defined as water that can act as a “continued highway over which commerce is or may be carried on with other States or foreign countries.”. So, if a body of water enables trade or commerce with another state or a foreign country, it is governed by maritime law. Bodies of water that are part of greater “navigable waters” will also be governed by maritime law, even if they do not directly connect to another state or country.

As such, a body of water that is closed off by a larger piece of land, or ‘land-locked’, will be governed by state law rather than federal maritime law.


Texas state maritime law is based entirely on federal law, as provided by Article III Section 2 of the United States Constitution. As such, the federal courts have jurisdiction over all cases involving personal injury and damage to property on navigable water. The only area that state courts may apply their own discretion is in relation to the compensation process for victims.

Although federal law governs all maritime injuries, injured workers and seamen may be entitled to bring maritime claims in state and federal courts in Houston. Injured maritime workers can bring a personal injury claim under the Jones Act in Texas state courts, and offshore oil rig workers can also bring a federal law case to a state court.

The cross-over between state and federal maritime law can be confusing, and often workers are unsure whether they can bring a claim to a Texas state court. One of the maritime lawyers from our law firm can offer you advice on your injury case and help you bring your case to a state or federal court.


Maritime injury cases and property damage cases are dealt with using a series of acts and general maritime law principles that have been built up over many years. Legal principles governing the right to compensation and medical expenses for an offshore injury, and jurisdiction for claims are set out in these acts.


The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) serves to compensate many different types of maritime employees. Some examples of workers that can claim under this Act include:

  • Harbor construction workers.
  • Longshore workers.
  • Dock workers.
  • Cargo workers.
  • Ship repairers.
  • Shipbuilders.

In order to make a compensation claim under this act for a maritime injury, the worker must demonstrate that they are a maritime worker and that their injury occurred on navigable waters or adjacent to such waters, including docks, piers, etc.


The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act is an extension of the LHWCA. Workers who are injured on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States are entitled to make an injury claim under this act. They must show that their work was in relation to exploring and producing natural resources.

If you work on an Outer Continental Shelf oil rig, you may be entitled to file a maritime injury claim under this Act. However, if you are employed by the US government, a foreign government, or a state government, you will be exempt from filing a personal injury claim under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.


All deaths that occur on the high seas, outside of a state’s territorial waters, are covered under the Death on the High Seas Act. This Act provides that family members of workers and passengers who die due to an accident at shore caused by “wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas” can bring a lawsuit.

Family members can only recover compensation for pecuniary losses, like financial support, and will be unable to recover medical expenses and funeral costs. The statute of limitations for bringing claims under this act is three years.


The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, was established in 1920 and covers the rights of seamen to file claims against their employers for an offshore injury. Under the Jones Act, workers have a right to file a compensation claim against their employer if they were wholly or partially responsible for their injuries. As such, your employer only needs to play a part in causing the personal injury you suffered to recover compensation. Some incidents of negligence covered under this act include:

  • Failure to maintain and prove safe equipment for seamen.
  • Having knowledge of extreme weather conditions and not taking steps to avoid them.
  • Knowingly giving negligent orders and instructions to workers.
  • Failing to provide medical treatment to injured workers.

Injured seamen can make a personal injury claim against their employers for whole or partial negligence in a state or federal court. Workers also retain the right to a jury trial. To bring a claim under the Merchant Marine Act, you should speak with an experienced maritime lawyer who can help you with your claim. Claims under this act can often be complex, and a texas lawyer can help gather evidence on your behalf, build a strong case, and ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries.


The Limitation of Liability Act allows vessel owners to limit their liability for claims brought in relation to injuries and damages caused by their vessel. This means that if you are injured on any type of vessel, such as personal watercraft or a cargo ship, and suffer serious injuries as a result, the owner of the ship may be able to reduce their liability and minimize the amount of compensation you can recover.

In order to use this Act, vessel owners must demonstrate that they had no previous knowledge of problems or damage relating to their vessel. In cases where the Limitation of Liability Act is raised, a judge must be the sole decider, as it is governed under admiralty law, which is slightly different than maritime law.

Houston Maritime Attorney Offshore Work Injury Lawyer

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