If you’re a maritime worker and suffered a job-related injury or illness, you should contact the experienced Houston personal injury lawyers from Kherkher Garcia, LLP immediately. You might be entitled to financial compensation under the Jones Act or another law that protects the rights of maritime employees. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, we know how to secure the monetary award injured workers need to recover from their injuries. You should not be forced to pay your medical expenses and other costs when someone else was at fault for the accident.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston Jones Act lawyers understand the risks seamen take at their jobs. You’re faced with harsh environmental factors, heavy machinery, harmful chemicals, and other hazards. If you encounter poor working conditions, you could sustain an injury from malfunctioning equipment, a slip and fall, or an explosion. The negligent party responsible for the accident should be held liable for their actions. We could help you do that.
Under the Jones Act, you must prove that someone else was at fault for your injuries. This is the main difference between filing a claim under this law and pursuing benefits from a workers’ compensation claim. If you want to secure compensation for your losses, you must prove that your employer or a coworker contributed to the accident.
The Houston Jones Act injury lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP will be your advocates during this devastating time in your life. We know the economic burden you can face when you’re recovering from a severe injury or illness. Medical bills are expensive and can lead to significant debt if you can’t afford to pay them. The at-fault party should be the one to compensate you for your expenses so you can heal and move forward.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you with your lawsuit after a job-related injury, call Kherkher Garcia, LLP for a free consultation at (713) 333-1030.
- Why You Need to Hire a Houston Jones Act Injury Attorney
- What Does a Maritime Accident Investigation Look Like?
- What is the Jones Act?
- Who is Entitled to Compensation Under the Jones Act?
- Common Types of Maritime Accidents
- Common Causes of Maritime Accidents
- Common Injuries Suffered in Maritime Accidents
- Compensation You Can Pursue with a Jones Act Claim
- Deadline for Pursuing Maritime Action Under the Jones Act
- How to Handle a Maritime Accident
- Jones Act Frequently Asked Questions
- Contact Our Houston Jones Act Lawyers
Why You Need to Hire a Houston Jones Act Injury Attorney
Kherkher Garcia, LLP has over three decades of experience representing the interests of injured maritime workers in Texas. We know how to handle accident investigations, where to locate vital evidence, and who to hold liable for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. You might think you can handle your case alone, but you’re likely to make an error that leads to a dismissed lawsuit or much less compensation than you deserve.
Our legal team is available 24/7, so you can talk to us about your case whenever it’s most convenient for you. We have been able to build an excellent reputation for our quality customer service and positive case results. You will be our top priority as we’re working on your lawsuit and trying to secure a favorable jury verdict or settlement. We will be there for you every step of the way from start to finish of the legal process.
Most injured workers think they can’t afford to hire a lawyer. If you’re struggling to pay for your treatment and can’t earn your usual wages, you might worry about the financial implications of seeking legal services. The Houston Jones Act injury lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP take cases on contingency. That means we don’t charge upfront fees or costs. You won’t have to pay unless we win your case. If we lose, we will never charge you.
Lawsuits filed under the Jones Act are complex. Only an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can adequately prepare for the battle ahead. Preparing a case like this requires following strict deadlines, assembling evidence, compiling legal documents, and communicating with the defense attorneys. Large companies typically hire an aggressive defense team willing to fight for them. They can be intimidating to unrepresented plaintiffs. With Kherkher Garcia, LLP on your side, you can focus on healing your injuries while we worry about the legalities of your case.
What Does a Maritime Accident Investigation Look Like?
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a maritime accident, your Houston Jones Act injury attorney can launch a thorough investigation to determine what happened and who was at fault. We need to gather evidence and prove who should be held liable so we can seek compensation from them on your behalf.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, we might need to obtain evidence, such as:
- Witness statements – Anyone who saw what happened could provide details about the accident. We can take their statement for the claim or call them as a witness to testify in court.
- Photographs – We can take pictures of the accident scene and collect evidence that can help show who’s responsible for your injuries. For example, photos of deplorable working conditions, damaged machinery, or hazards could serve as relevant evidence.
- Government reports – We can request copies of reports from local, state, and federal agencies to review and help us determine why the maritime accident occurred. These reports can provide in-depth information that we can use to disprove the defense attorney’s arguments during your trial.
- Medical records – Medical records are vital in accident cases. We will need proof that your injury happened on the job and you needed medical treatment to recover. We can also request copies of your medical bills, bank statements, and other documentation to show your incurred costs.
- Maintenance and repair schedules – If we review logs for maintenance and repairs performed on the vessel and equipment, we could pinpoint any errors. Lack of adequate maintenance or noting damage without immediately repairing it could place the owner or maintenance company under liability for your losses.
- Security camera footage – We can look over footage from the security camera to see what happened right before and during the accident. It could provide insight into actions the shipowner, crewmembers, and other parties took leading up to your injury.
Kherkher Garcia, LLP is familiar with investigating maritime accidents. We know what it takes to prove your case, so you walk away with the money you’re owed from the negligent party. We have the resources to secure vital evidence, track down witnesses, and look into every possible factor contributing to your injury or illness. This is a huge undertaking and something you shouldn’t attempt to handle yourself. We know how to efficiently gather evidence and build solid cases before time runs out. There are strict deadlines you must follow, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might not file your Jones Act claim on time.
What is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act, also referred to as The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, offers certain protections to maritime workers who sustain a disabling injury or illness on the job. If you were injured while on a vessel being operated on navigable waters, you could seek compensation for the losses you suffered.
Seamen also have these rights under the Jones Act:
- Right to an environment reasonably safe for work
- Right to file a lawsuit if negligence caused an injury
- Right to medical care and room and board while recovering
- Right to additional compensation if a crew member or the vessel is unseaworthy
- Right to punitive damages if the employer withholds medical treatment and living expenses
Typically, when you get hurt at work, you can file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. However, the Jones Act allows you to sue your employer directly for their wrongdoing. Since they were at fault for your injury, you could hold them liable and receive compensation for multiple losses resulting from the accident.
Who is Entitled to Compensation Under the Jones Act?
The Jones Act protects specific workers in the maritime industry on a vessel operating on waterways in the United States, mainly sailors and seamen.
You’re considered a seaman if you spend at least 30 percent of your time performing your job-related tasks onboard a vessel in navigation. Navigation refers to vessels that are moving or temporarily anchored or moored. If the watercraft undergoes repairs on a drydock, it’s not in navigation. Your duties must also contribute to accomplishing the ship’s mission or functioning of the vessel.
Additional workers that might be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act are:
- Tugboat workers
- Harbor workers
- Offshore workers
- Merchant marines
A vessel is any watercraft that can move through navigable waters. They include:
- Mobile offshore drilling rigs
- Tug boats
- Fishing and shrimp boats
- Crew boats
- Cruise ships
Navigable waters include oceans, inland lakes shared by at least two states or connected to other navigable waters, or rivers.
Common Types of Maritime Accidents
Working at sea is an inherently dangerous job. Various scenarios could arise that lead to an accident. The dangers you face as a seaman depend on the type of job you perform on the vessel.
The most common types of maritime accidents Kherkher Garcia, LLP handles are:
- Collisions with another vessel or structure on the water
- Falling cargo
- Malfunctioning machinery or equipment
- Operator error
- Slip and falls
- Falling overboard
- Being struck by objects
- Exposure to harsh climates or toxic substances
If any of these or other circumstances resulted in your injuries, you should contact Kherkher Garcia, LLP. We might be able to represent you in your case and file a lawsuit against the negligent employer, vessel owner, or worker.
Common Causes of Maritime Accidents
People in the maritime industry must adhere to specific safety standards to avoid causing accidents. Violating any regulations could lead to severe injuries and illnesses. In some cases, fatalities can result from a catastrophic accident, such as an explosion or fire. Multiple factors can result in a maritime worker suffering serious harm.
Crewmembers must maintain all equipment so it functions correctly. If it malfunctions while you’re using it, you could suffer injuries, and anyone in the vicinity could also get hurt. Different parts and systems need to work together to lift cargo, keep the vessel running, and perform other tasks.
The most common causes of equipment failure are:
- Improper communication about procedures
- Lack of routine maintenance and adequate repairs
- Failing to monitor systems to discover potential issues
- Lack of necessary equipment or protective gear
- Failing to replace a defective or worn-out part
Vessels are challenging to operate. They must navigate waterways around other vessels, tug boats, barges, and other structures. The operator must have experience and know how to keep their employees and other people safe. However, injuries and fatalities can occur during a collision.
Common reasons vessels crash into each other are:
- Malfunctioning radar systems
- Inexperienced watch stander on the bridge
- Errors in navigation
- Poor decision making
- Overworked personnel
Lack of Adequate Training
Seamen must go through extensive training to know how to perform their jobs and avoid causing injuries to others. No matter your work-related duties, you should know how to complete them correctly and react appropriately in emergencies. Even seasoned maritime workers can panic in a tense situation or lack good judgment if they’re overworked and tired.
One of the most common causes of maritime accidents is human error. The mistakes made by the vessel operator, employee, maintenance company, or another party can have tragic consequences. Examples of human error include:
- Distractions while operating the vessel
- Failing to repair damaged equipment promptly
- Faulty system or vessel design
- Violating regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- Lack of safety precautions and protective gear
- Negligent hiring of crew members
- Hazards left in walking and work areas
- Missing or damaged safety devices on raised platforms
- Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo
- Storing or handling toxic chemicals incorrectly
You deserve compensation for the suffering you experienced due to the workplace accident. Whether your employer or someone else is to blame, you have a right to hold them accountable for their wrongdoing. At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston Jones Act injury lawyers believe that every seaman deserves the opportunity to secure a monetary award that adequately compensates them for their past and future accident-related losses.
Common Injuries Suffered in Maritime Accidents
The injuries sustained at sea can range from minor to life-threatening. If you were in an accident while working on a vessel, you likely required emergency medical care and ongoing treatment to heal. Some injured workers become disabled and must face lifelong struggles coping with their permanent injuries.
Even if you recover from your physical injuries, you might suffer from psychological trauma long after your case ends. You could be forced to seek counseling or therapy for your anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This can lead to ongoing medical bills that you can’t afford.
The most common injuries seamen and other maritime workers sustain include:
- Lung disease
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Vision or hearing loss
- Traumatic brain injury
- Permanent brain damage
- Burns and puncture wounds
- Compartment syndrome
- Heat exhaustion
- Repetitive motion injury
- Loss of limb
Complications can arise from debilitating injuries and illnesses. If you inhale toxic substances on board the vessel, you could develop cancer or another disease. Some people lose mobility or have physical or mental impairments that prevent them from returning to their job. The compensation you receive should adequately compensate for all past expenses and future treatment you might need.
# of People Injured by Vessel Type
# of Deaths by Incident Type
- Fall from Height
- Enclosed Space Entry
- Fall Overboard
- Fall on Stairs
- Crane Structural Failure
- Steam System Failure
- Struck by Wave
Compensation You Can Pursue with a Jones Act Claim
You likely suffered a range of losses due to your work-related injury or illness. When you’re seeking medical treatment and can’t earn your usual wages, you need compensation to cover those losses. Filing a Jones Act claim could lead to the recovery of the monetary value of your case, so you’re not left with expenses to pay for yourself.
The losses you can seek compensation for due to a maritime accident include:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
You could also pursue compensation for “maintenance and cure.” This means you have a right to financial coverage for medical care necessary to treat your injuries and living expenses while you’re recovering.
Maintenance provides seamen and other eligible employees with the means to live while healing from their work-related injuries. The shipowner must provide you with the means to pay for daily living costs, such as rent, food, phone bill, electricity, transportation, and other expenses. Compensation ends when you can maintain your lifestyle without anyone’s help.
Cure refers to medical treatment. The shipowner must pay for all doctor’s appointments that are meant to improve your mental and physical functioning so you can perform your required maritime tasks.
Once you reach maximum medical improvement, meaning your condition likely won’t improve with further treatment, compensation for maintenance and cure will cease.
Deadline for Pursuing Maritime Action Under the Jones Act
If you want to file a lawsuit for the injury you suffered at sea, you must do so before the statute of limitations runs out. A statute of limitations is a timeframe for initiating legal action against another party. The statute of limitations for maritime injuries and fatalities under the Jones Act is three years. That means you must file your lawsuit within three years of the date the accident occurred. Once the deadline passes, you could lose your right to compensation.
You might also need to comply with other deadlines and laws depending on the type of case you’re pursuing:
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act – Shipbuilders, longshore workers, harbor construction workers, and other similar individuals must initiate a case within one year of the injury. You could receive compensation for the losses you suffered while performing your job on or near navigable waters. You could also seek compensation if you lost a loved one in a maritime accident.
- The Death on the High Seas Act – If your family member suffered fatal injuries onboard a vessel, you could recover benefits for the losses their death caused. Unlike the Jones Act, the victim does not have to be an employee performing tasks to aid in the vessel’s operation. Instead, they must be a citizen riding as a passenger beyond a three-mile territory of the United States coast.
Your Houston Jones Act injury attorney from Kherkher Garcia, LLP can take on the responsibility for your lawsuit, so you don’t miss any deadlines. You should only focus on healing your injuries while we take care of your case.
How to Handle a Maritime Accident
You can never adequately prepare for an on-the-job injury. You likely feel disoriented, confused, and in shock immediately following an accident. If you’re in severe pain, you can’t think clearly to focus on the steps you will need to take to hold the negligent party accountable.
You should take multiple steps in the days, weeks, months, and even years after your work-related injury or illness. First, you definitely need to seek medical care. That can be difficult when you’re at sea. Vessels typically have at least one physician and medical staff, depending on the size. They should evaluate your condition and determine the right treatment plan so you can heal.
Once you’re back onshore, you should continue with your treatment until you recover. Don’t make a habit of skipping appointments or allowing too much time to pass in between. If the defense attorneys see that you didn’t regularly treat your injury, they might assume that’s because it wasn’t serious and doesn’t require significant compensation. Whether you need surgery, imaging tests, physical therapy, or in-patient care, take your initial doctor’s advice and attend all your appointments.
You also should hire a Houston Jones Act injury lawyer. Kherkher Garcia, LLP can take over every legal aspect of your case while you’re treating. You won’t have to face the burden of preparing a lawsuit when you hire us. We will investigate the accident and locate evidence we can use to show your workplace injury deserves compensation. We have over 30 years of trial experience and have litigated countless cases throughout the country successfully.
It’s also a good idea to maintain adequate records. You should forward any documentation associated with your case to us. Besides treatment notes, billing statements, and written prescriptions, you should also keep copies of bank statements showing out-of-pocket costs, receipts for gas mileage while traveling to and from your doctors, and other relevant evidence.
There are specific actions you should avoid while Kherkher Garcia, LLP works on your case. For example, you should never speak to the defense attorneys. They’re not even allowed to contact you if you hired a lawyer. If anyone reaches out to you to discuss the accident, give them our contact information, and we can handle all communications going forward.
Never admit fault for your maritime injuries. Proportionate responsibility is a Texas statute that reduces an accident victim’s financial award by their percentage of responsibility. If your case is heard in state rather than federal court, and the jury finds that your actions contributed to your injury in any way, they could reduce your monetary losses. For example, if your losses total $100,000 but you were 20 percent to blame, you could collect up to $80,000. However, if you were more than 50 percent at fault, you wouldn’t be entitled to any compensation.
Jones Act Frequently Asked Questions
The Houston Jones Act injury attorneys of Kherkher Garcia, LLP can help prepare you for the legal battle you’re about to face. We know you have questions about your rights and the best legal strategy for pursuing compensation after a maritime accident. You can depend on us to provide the necessary guidance, so you know what to expect during your ongoing case. We have answered common questions we receive from injured seamen and maritime workers.
- Malfunctioning equipment
- Inexperienced crew or staffing shortage
- Broken or missing handrails
- Lack of non-skid surfaces on decks, stairs, and ladders
Contact Our Houston Jones Act Lawyers
The Houston Jones Act injury attorneys of Kherkher Garcia, LLP will aggressively pursue the maximum compensation necessary to cover your total losses. We will fight by your side to protect your rights and seek the money owed to you by your employer. We know that when you’re suffering from chronic pain, emotional distress, and financial strain, the last thing you want to do is handle a lawsuit. It can be overwhelming and stressful. Our legal team will take care of everything for you so you can find a way to get your life back on track.
No amount of money can change what happened. However, we hope that it can provide the financial relief you need to pay for your ongoing doctor bills, rent, food, and other costs while you’re trying to recover. At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston Jones Act injury lawyers don’t give up without a fight. We are aggressive in settlement negotiations and litigation. We won’t back down from the defense team and always strive for the best possible outcome we can reach.
If you suffered injuries in a maritime accident, contact Kherkher Garcia, LLP immediately for assistance filing a lawsuit under the Jones Act. We can meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your case, legal options, and how we can help. Call us today at (713) 333-1030.