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June 15, 2024 | Lopez Franco PLLC

Houston Maritime and Port Injuries: Legal Remedies for Workers

Located on the Gulf Coast, Houston is a thriving hub of maritime trade. Among the major industries here are commercial fishing and offshore drilling. The Houston Ship Channel complex and its more than 200 private and eight public terminals, collectively known as the Port of Houston, is the nation’s largest port for waterborne tonnage and an essential economic engine for the Houston region. Billions of dollars in maritime trade and industry flow through these industries. 

These industries are dangerous, though. Longshoremen, seamen, and other workers who are injured in the course of their employment on the Gulf Coast may be entitled to file claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act or the Jones Act. Many of these injuries could have been avoided if employers had met statutory and regulatory requirements and created a safe work environment, including a seaworthy vessel. A Houston maritime lawyer can help you understand your legal rights. 

Causes of Maritime Accidents

While there are numerous causes of offshore maritime accidents, some of the most common include:

  • Negligence
  • Inexperienced crew or inadequate training
  • Cargo tanker explosions
  • Marine crane incidents 
  • Injuries caused by falling objects
  • Slips and falls on the deck or falls overboard
  • Equipment failure
  • Collisions

Difference Between The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Jones Act provides seamen with a personal injury negligence remedy, and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is a workers’ compensation statute. The Jones Act covers seamen, and the Longshore Act covers land-based maritime workers. As a practical matter, there’s an overlap in coverage that causes problems for employers who must have the correct insurance coverage and for injured workers who must choose the correct remedy.

The Longshore Act covers any longshoreman or other person engaged in longshoring operations and any harbor worker, including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and shipbreaker. Under the Jones Act, the worker’s duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission, and the worker must have an employment connection to a vessel in navigation.

The Longshore Act provides for prompt payment of statutory wage replacement benefits and medical treatment. It is a no-fault statute designed to be predictable for the employer and quick for the worker. By contrast, The Jones Act is a negligence remedy enforced by filing a lawsuit. 

Contact a Houston Maritime Attorney

Maritime accidents are often catastrophic and can be fatal. Inadequate crew training is a too frequent cause of accidents. Minor issues can escalate quickly due to a lack of an experienced and well-trained crew. In addition to the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, other maritime statutes may apply, including The Death on The High Seas Act, which functions as a wrongful death statute, providing a cause of action for survivors when a person dies as a result of a wrongful act or disaster in international waters. Let an experienced Houston maritime attorney help you understand your case. Contact Lopez Franco PLLC today.