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Austin Maritime Accident & Injury Lawyer | Austin Jones Act Attorney
Austin Jones Act Lawyers & Austin Maritime Lawyers assist clients in a broad range of maritime and offshore accidents. Maritime law extends to passengers injured on a boat, but many times involves maritime workers and seamen injured on the job. The skilled Austin maritime attorneys on this site are dedicated to pursuing your rights under the law and returning a verdict for monetary damages to help you and your family through the difficult times following an injury. If you are not a seaman or offshore employee, but have been injured in a cruise ship accident or in a recreational Austin skiing accident you should visit those pages.
Austin Maritime, Offshore & Oil Rig Injury Claims
Austin, Texas rests in the same state as one of the largest ports in the world and that is Houston, Texas. The Port of Houston is one of the largest ports in the world and services many different types of vessels.. Also, Texas has most of the large oil companies in the world. They maintain all types of maritime vessels throughout the Gulf of Mexico including crewboats, supply boats, dredges, barges and other oil relates ships.
The Houston Ship Channel, Galveston Bay, and the Intracoastal Waterway, running from Florida all the way to the Texas Gulf Coast. These waterways allow a tremendous economic trade to take place off the coast of Houston and help maintain the city’s robust economy.
The Port of Houston is operated by the Port of Houston Authority, a sub-agency of the State of Texas. Information regarding the Port of Houston is available at: The Port of Houston. The port’s mailing address is P.O Box 2562, Houston TX 77252, and the port is located at:
The Port of Houston Authority
Countless seamen of all types, deckhands, tankermen, engineeers, OIMs, galley hands, Captains, relief captains man the vessels that constantly work in the Gulf of Mexico.Austin workers are employed on offshore oil rigs, platforms, and derricks. Inevitably, accidents on these vessels and offshore rigs sometimes cause injury to the seamen in their employment. When this happens, a variety of legal courses of action might be advisable, from a Jones Act claim, to a claim under the General Maritime Law, or, in some cases when certain Jones Act requirements are not met, a claim under the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). For advice regarding your legal rights following an injury sustained while in the employ of a vessel, contact one of the Austin maritime law attorneys listed above.
Austin maritime lawyers can help you successfully pursue a claim for compensation if you have been injured on the job. Contact an experienced Austin maritime injury lawyer today for a free consultation.
What exactly is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act is a federal law that covers seaman injured on the job. Before the Jones Act was passed by Congress in 1920, there were no written laws or statutes designed to protect seamen and their families in the event that they were injured on the job. Thus, injured seamen were required to resort to the “common law,” or General Maritime Law, which is the judge-made law passed down over time and slowly incorporated into the legal system. With the passage of the Jones Act, seamen were finally able to enjoy more predictable and immediate benefits when they were injured. It reads as follows:
30104. Personal injury to or death of seamen
A seaman injured in the course of employment or, if the seaman dies from the injury, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law, with the right of trial by jury, against the employer. Laws of the United States regulating recovery for personal injury to, or death of, a railway employee apply to an action under this section.
Unlike Texas workers’ comp, the Jones Act is a “fault-based” system which means the injured worker must show that the employer was negligent and/or that the vessel he was working on was “unseaworthy.” “Unseaworthiness” signifies that some condition on the vessel made it “not fit for its intended purpose.” An injured Jones Act seaman is also entitled to “maintenance and cure,” which is similar to workers’ comp, although it is not a statutory remedy like workers’ comp. Under the Jones Act, an employer can also be held liable for punitive damages for unreasonable denying payment of maintenance and/or cure benefits. Thus, the Jones Act is a tremendous tool, which allows Austin maritime attorneys successfully to pursue claims for accidents and injuries suffered by offshore workers and seamen.
What damages can an experienced Austin Maritime Lawyer get you under the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law?
In Austin, Texas, the maritime lawyer can seek damages for:
- Pain & Suffering;
- Mental Anguish;
- Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity;
- Medical Expenses;
- Physical Impairment;
- Physical Disfigurement; and
- As stated above, punitive damages for failure to maintenance & cure.
The Savings to Suitors Clause in the U.S. Constitution
The Savings to Suitors Clause is actually in Article III of the U.S. Constitution. It reads:
"The district courts shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the States, of:
(1) Any civil case of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction,
saving to suitors in all cases all other remedies to which they are otherwise entitled."
This was codified in 28 U.S.C. Section 1333 and it basically means that a seaman has an absolute right to file his claim in either federal court or state court without fear of removal.This is very unique to injured seamen. Courts in Austin that could hear a Jones Act claim are located at:
Austin, TX 78767
Travis County 200th District Civil Court
Travis County 201st District Civil Court
Travis County 353rd District Civil Court
Travis County 419th District Civil Court
Who qualifies as a Jones Act seaman?
The Jones Act encompasses a broad range of persons into its definition of “seaman.” In addition to full-time members of the crew, masters of the vessel and other employees who have a substantial connection to the vessel will likely be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained on the job. The general rule is that any employee that spends over 30% of his or her time on a vessel in navigation (or multiple vessels that are commonly owned) will qualify for seaman status. To recover, the seaman/employee must also work on a vessel that operates on navigable waterways and is engaged in interstate commerce. On the other hand, if the employee spends time on a variety of different vessels or moves between vessels that are not commonly owned, then the employee may instead be protected under either the General Maritime Law or the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). Despite this limitation, courts have generally interpreted seaman status under the Jones Act broadly, to include a variety of workers on board vessels, including chefs, waiters, card dealers, cooks, and other entertainers and staff.
The Jones Act covers all types of maritime workers at all levels of command, including, but not limited to, Captains, First Mates, Chief Mates, Second Mates, Third Mates, Relief Captains, Deckhands, Leadmen, Wiremen, Engineers, Tankermen, etc.
An experienced Austin maritime lawyer will be familiar with these laws and can advise you of your status as either a seaman, longshoreman, or otherwise, and help you navigate the legal system regardless of whether you are technically considered a Jones Act seaman.
Austin Tugboat Injury Lawyer & Austin Barge injury lawyer
Tugboats hauling or pushing barges in the Houston Ship Channel and in the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) constantly see injuries occur from fleeting operations or simply from persons falling on the many barges that come in and out of the tow. There are many types of barges, such as hopper, grain, coal, benzene, toluene, etc. Sometimes the wires and ratchets follow the barge and sometimes they do not. Often, the wires that are used to make tow are old and corroded or strewn about causing tripping hazards or, worse yet, are the cause of many traumatic foot and ankle amputations. Contact a competent Austin towboat injury attorney today if you’ve been injured and believe you qualify as a Jones Act seaman.
Austin Dredge Injury Lawyer
Dredge work is one of the hardest and most dangerous types of maritime work. One reason is that the dredge places their dredge lines in what is normally an area busy with maritime traffic. At night, too many collisions occur because of either improper lighting on the dredge or inexperienced yachtsmen who don’t know the maritime rules of the road. For a complete COLREGS U.S.C.G. manual on Navigation, including lighting, click here. If you need a dredge injury lawyer or dredge collision lawyer, contact one of the Austin maritime attorneys on this page.
Why do I need an Experienced Austin Maritime Attorney to represent me in my Jones Act or General Maritime Law case?
Both the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law can be extremely complex. Numerous legal questions must be answered, and complicated tests govern jurisdiction, “vessel in navigation” status, as well as seaman status under the law. Additionally, the amount of recovery an injured seaman is entitled to will likely differ based on the facts of each case.
Very few attorneys specialize in maritime law; however, Texas is lucky to have some of the most experienced maritime lawyers in the country and their expertise can help you obtain the judgment you deserve. Contact one of the expert Austin maritime attorneys listed above for a consultation regarding your rights.
How long do you have to file a Jones Act or General Maritime Law claim?
Generally, both Jones Act claims for maintenance and cure or General Maritime Law claims for unseaworthiness against a vessel owner may be filed up to three (3) years from the date of injury.
Contact an experienced Austin maritime lawyer immediately upon being injured
to be advised of your legal rights.
Other Helpful Information & Links:
American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)
Texas Department of Transportation - Houston District
U.S. Department of Transportation - Houston Office
U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Houston - Galveston Command Center
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Houston - Galveston Office
Houston Ship Channel Security District
Texas House Bill 3011 established the Houston Ship Channel Security District (HSCD). Information regarding the HSCD’s most recent meetings and a list of their upcoming activities and meetings are available at: www.hscsd.org.
If you have been injured on the job while working on a boat as a seaman, you will need medical care. Austin has some very good doctors and hospitals. You may need to seek medical care at one of the following local hospitals:
Neuro Institute of Austin, L.P.
1106 West Dittmar Road
Austin, TX 78745
Seton Shoal Creek Hospital
St. David's Hospital
919 East 32nd Street
Austin, TX 78705
Seton Medical Center Austin
1201 West 38th Street
Austin, TX 78705
Austin Jones Act Injury Law Firms serve
Clients throughout Central Texas, including Anderson Mill, Austin, Barton Creek, Bear Creek, Bee Cave, Bluff Springs, Briarcliff, Brushy Creek, Buda, Cedar Park, Cele, Coupland, Creedmoor, Driftwood, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Georgetown, Hays, Hutto, Jollyville, Jonah, Jonestown, Lago Vista, Leander, Liberty Hill, Lost Creek, Lund, Manchaca, Manor, Marshall Ford, McNeil, New Sweden, Onion Creek, Pflugerville, Point Venture, Rollingwood, Round Rock, San Leanna, Serenada, Shady Hollow, Sun City, Sunset Valley, Dallas, The Hills, Thorndale, Thrall, Volente, Waterloo, Webberville, Weir, Wells Branch, West Lake Hills, Williamson, Windemere, Wyldwood and other communities in Hays County, Travis County, and Williamson County.
Rest assured that an experienced Travis County maritime law or Jones Act attorney will be familiar with both federal and state laws and will have the expertise necessary to aggressively pursue your claim and get you the financial recovery you deserve. Contact one of the qualified Austin lawyers on this site today.