Houston Jones Act Lawyer

Put Our Houston Jones Act Lawyers to Work for You

Houston Jones Act Lawyer

Houston is one of the largest metropolitan areas of Texas and the entire southern United States. The area is home to thousands of businesses, and many companies operate within Houston and on the waters outside the state, including the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. When an injury occurs at work, land-based workers often have the ability to file claims for workers’ compensation benefits. State law does not require all employers to have this insurance coverage, but many do to provide peace of mind to their employees.

Unfortunately, most people working in the Houston area will not have access to workers’ compensation when they sustain injuries while working offshore. Specifically, anyone living in Houston and working offshore or working offshore for a Houston-based company will likely not have access to workers’ compensation insurance through their employer. The Jones Act applies to these people; the act is a federal maritime law designed to protect individuals who work at sea and are not covered by state-level workers’ compensation laws.

Stevenson & Murray has a team of experienced Houston Jones Act attorneys who have helped many injured seamen, longshoremen, and other maritime workers in the area recover from their workplace injuries. We know the stress and uncertainty that can follow any workplace injury aboard any type of vessel, regardless of how far out to sea you may be when it happens. Our firm can provide the responsive and compassionate legal counsel you need to approach your recovery efforts with confidence and peace of mind.

Understanding Your Rights Under the Jones Act

The Jones Act is a commonly misunderstood law, but if you work offshore for any Houston-based company, it’s essential to understand the rights it provides to you in the event of a work-related injury. The Jones Act requires all maritime employers to ensure their working environments are functional and safe; they are also required to ensure their employees have all necessary training and equipment to perform their work duties.

An employer becomes liable for an employee’s damages under the Jones Act whenever the employer’s negligence or misconduct results in an injury. For example, if a ship owner employs a small crew and is responsible for ensuring the vessel’s seaworthiness, any crewmember injured because of a mechanical problem with the vessel would likely have grounds to file a Jones Act claim against the ship owner. The owner is legally required to ensure the vessel is fully seaworthy before every voyage.

If you were hurt aboard a rig, barge, tugboat, tanker ship or any other vessel, you might have rights as a seaman under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal maritime law that grants specific rights to injured seamen, crewmen and some other maritime workers, including the following:

  • The right to make a claim for lost wages, maintenance and cure. When an employee is injured while working offshore, the Jones Act, at a minimum, requires the employer to provide “maintenance and cure,” or compensation for the income the victim cannot earn because of their injury and the cost of treating their injury.
  • The right to file a claim or lawsuit against a negligent employer or third party. The Jones Act prevents offshore employers from coercing injured employees into private arbitration or other administrative legal proceedings that are always skewed against injured workers. If you believe your employer was negligent in any way that contributed to your injury, the Jones Act enables you to file a claim against them to seek compensation for all resulting damages you incurred.
  • The right to file a seaworthiness claim if improper vessel maintenance caused the accidental injury. Ship owners and maritime employers that manage vessel-based business operations are legally required to ensure their vessels are safe and fully operational before every trip out to sea. Therefore, when a vessel maintenance issue causes an injury, the injured worker will likely have grounds for a seaworthiness claim against their employer.
  • The right to visit a doctor of your choosing and receive a second opinion. You will need a medical report from a doctor to submit with your Jones Act claim. This will establish the full scope of your injuries and the medical complications you will likely experience. If you disagree with an initial diagnosis, you have the right to seek a second opinion from another doctor. Your Houston Jones Act attorney will help you determine the best approach to resolving any disputes between you and your treatment team regarding your injury.

The Jones Act covers crewmen who are injured or die through the negligence of their employers aboard vessels in navigable waters at sea or rivers, lakes, bays, bayous, sounds, or any other waterway. Unfortunately, not all accidents aboard floating vessels are covered by the Jones Act. To find out if you have a case, please contact the knowledgeable Houston Jones Act lawyers of Stevenson & Murray. Your consultation and case evaluation will be free and completely confidential.

Jones Act and Longshoremen Claims

Our Houston Jones Act lawyers also handle claims against third parties other than the employer for those who may be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). While many employees injured aboard a vessel—the captain, first mate, deckhands, engineers, wipers, and even cooks and housekeepers—may have a claim under the Jones Act, others may need experienced legal help to find other sources of compensation and benefits, such as LHWCA claims for qualified maritime workers or state workers’ compensation benefits.

Some people working in offshore operations based in the Houston area will spend some time aboard vessels and some time working on land. These workers are typically covered by the Jones Act as long as a substantial portion of their work is performed aboard a vessel. In the event you believe a third party outside of your work is responsible for an injury you suffered at work aboard a vessel or on shore, you will need an experienced Houston Jones Act attorney to help you determine your best options for legal recourse against the party responsible for your injury.

Damages Recoverable Under the Jones Act Include:

  • Past and future lost wages. A work injury aboard any vessel can potentially impair the victim’s ability to work, earn income, and even live independently. The Jones Act enables a plaintiff to seek full compensation for all lost earning power. This may mean wages lost during their recovery from their injury, and it may also include compensation for the income they would have reasonably expected to earn in the future if they hadn’t been injured.
  • Past and future medical expenses. The Jones Act requires a defendant responsible for a maritime work injury to compensate the plaintiff for all the medical expenses they incur because of the defendant’s actions. This includes all immediate and ongoing treatment costs necessary for healing the victim’s injury as much as medically possible and helping them reach maximum medical recovery.
  • Past and future pain and suffering (physical and psychological). The Jones Act allows the plaintiff to seek reasonable financial compensation for the physical pain, emotional suffering, and psychological distress they experienced from their injury. This can seem subjective and difficult to quantify, but a good attorney will know how to assess reasonable pain and suffering compensation for their client under the Jones Act. There is no limit to the amount of pain and suffering compensation a plaintiff can seek from a defendant, but they must be prepared to show why their claimed amount is reasonable.
  • Necessary vocational rehabilitation and occupational retraining. Some victims of maritime workplace injuries are left unable to resume their previous job duties. For example, a serious work injury could leave a seaman completely unable to keep performing the same work. If they are able to train for a new job, the defendant is responsible for any occupational retraining, vocational rehabilitation, and job placement services the plaintiff requires.
  • Lost earning capacity for seamen who have a limited ability to work due to a serious injury. Unfortunately, some of those injured at sea will never regain full functionality. As a result, they may have very limited options when it comes to new work opportunities, and some may be left completely unable to work at all. In these situations, plaintiffs require experienced legal representation capable of accurately calculating the future income they would have expected to earn if they hadn’t been injured.

While the average person facing a Jones Act claim in the Houston area is likely to have many pressing legal questions and uncertainties after their injury, once they secure experienced legal counsel, they might be surprised to discover their claim is worth much more than they initially anticipated. This is because the attorneys at Stevenson & Murray aim for maximum client recovery in every case we accept.

It’s natural to have some hesitation when you think you may need to hire legal counsel. However, all Houston area residents who work offshore must understand the value that legal representation can provide in a complex Jones Act case. For the best chance of maximizing the compensation you obtain for your Jones Act claim in Houston, it’s vital to have legal counsel you can trust from an experienced attorney. Your Houston Jones Act attorney will help you understand your rights under the Jones Act, calculate the damages you are eligible to seek from the defendant, and guide you through the proceedings necessary to resolve your case.

What to Expect From Your Houston Jones Act Attorney

It’s natural for any injured worker in Houston to have many important legal questions in the initial aftermath of their experience. The first steps you take after experiencing any type of injury while working offshore can significantly impact the outcome of the recovery efforts you pursue. First, you must report your injury immediately. The Jones Act enforces a strict seven-day reporting time limit, but it is always best to report workplace injuries immediately.

Once you report your injury to your vessel’s captain, federal law requires them to document the injury in a formal incident report and to ensure the victim receives medical attention. In addition, some maritime work injuries will require emergency evacuation services and rapid transportation to land-based medical treatment facilities. Once you stabilize from your injury, you should speak with a Houston Jones Act attorney as soon as possible to discuss your recovery options.

The Stevenson & Murray team will meet with you at your convenience and evaluate the details of how your injury occurred. If you have grounds to file a claim under the Jones Act, our firm can advise you as to how the claim is likely to unfold, the amount of compensation you can reasonably expect to secure from the defendant, and the time your case is likely to take before reaching a conclusion. In addition, we can answer the questions you may have at the outset of your case and address any concerns that may arise as your proceedings unfold.

Our team is committed to client recovery, and we specialize in handling very complex maritime injury cases that many Houston attorneys cannot represent. Maritime law is very different than Texas civil law, and it’s possible for an offshore injury claim to escalate into a very heated civil dispute between the parties involved. Do not assume you can handle the complexities of your impending Jones Act claim on your own. When you choose Stevenson & Murray to represent you, you can recover with peace of mind knowing your recovery is in capable hands.

Jones Act Lawyer FAQs

Q: How Does the Jones Act Work?

A: The simplest explanation of the Jones Act is that it enables injured workers to file personal injury claims against their employers for the injuries they suffer at sea. To succeed with a civil suit under the Jones Act, the claimant must prove their employer caused their injury in some way, such as some form of deliberate misconduct, failure to adhere to applicable regulations, or failure to maintain a reasonably safe vessel.

Q: How Much Is My Jones Act Claim Worth in Houston?

A: The full value of compensation you may obtain from the defendant in your case hinges on the total amount of economic losses you suffered and the severity of your injury. If you are left completely unable to work in the future due to permanent disability from your offshore work injury, the defendant in your Jones Act claim is likely to face extensive liability for your lost earning capacity, the ongoing medical treatment you will require, and your pain and suffering.

Q: Who Is Protected Under the Jones Act?

A: In order to qualify for the legal protection provided by the Jones Act, the individual must have a strong connection with a vessel or fleet of vessels in conducting their job-related duties. Most seamen qualify for protection under the Jones Act. Additionally, qualified workers may work aboard a vessel, but it is not necessary for the vessel to be at sea for them to have legal protection under the Jones Act, only for it to be actively operating. If you’re unsure whether you have protection under the Jones Act, it’s best to consult a Houston Jones Act attorney about your claim.

Q: Is It Worth Hiring a Houston Jones Act Attorney?

A: Navigating any civil claim for damages filed under maritime law can be incredibly challenging. Hiring experienced legal counsel you can trust can significantly improve your chances of reaching favorable results in your recovery efforts. In addition, the attorneys at Stevenson & Murray accept Jones Act claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning our firm only collects a legal fee from you after we secure compensation for your damages from the defendant.

Q: How Much Does a Houston Jones Act Attorney Cost to Hire?

A: When an attorney offers contingency fee billing to a client, the client pays no upfront legal fees, and there is no fee at all if the attorney fails to win their case. The attorney’s fee is “contingent” upon their ability to secure compensation for the client. Additionally, this billing structure ensures the client’s legal fees do not exceed their recovery. Even after accounting for your attorney’s contingency fee, they are likely to secure far more compensation on your behalf than you could have obtained on your own.

To learn more about the Jones Act and other maritime and admiralty laws that may offer real hope for recovery in your maritime accident and injury case, call our Houston Jones Act lawyers at (713) 622-3223 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced trial attorney at the Texas law firm of Stevenson & Murray.

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