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Houston Jones Act Lawyer

Houston Jones Act Lawyer

Were you injured on the job while working as a seaman near Houston, TX? Many injured maritime workers in Texas don’t qualify for state workers’ compensation benefits. However, you may be entitled to receive compensation under the Jones Act. 

An experienced Houston Jones Act lawyer at Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and options. Our track record of success is unmatched; we’ve recovered some of the largest settlements and jury verdicts in Texas history for cases involving chemical plant accidents in Houston, maritime accidents, wrongful death claims, Houston railroad crossing accidents, bicycle accidents, and more.

If you were injured working in the maritime industry, contact our office in Houston, Texas, to schedule a free consultation today. You can call us at (888) 603-3636.

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How Can Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers Help With My Houston Jones Act Claim?

How Can Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers Help With My Houston Jones Act Claim?

The Texas maritime industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Thousands of maritime workers support that industry. 

Maritime accidents and injuries aren’t uncommon. When they do happen, you deserve to be protected financially. Unfortunately, maritime regulations are extremely complex. While you may know that you have rights under federal law, you’ll need the help of an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer to enforce them.

Our record-setting legal team at Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers can help you build the strongest case possible by:

  • Investigating to determine who was responsible for your injuries
  • Collecting and evaluating evidence to support your claim
  • Documenting your damages 
  • Fighting back when the insurance companies refuse to cover your expenses
  • Protecting you when your doctor tries to send you back to work before you’re healed
  • Determining whether the vessel was unseaworthy
  • Negotiating with the insurance companies for a full settlement

Jones Act claims combine elements of workers’ compensation and personal injury laws. It’s important to hire a personal injury attorney with experience handling these types of complicated claims. To learn more about how our undefeated attorneys can help, call for your free case evaluation today.

The Jones Act: An Overview

The Jones Act is also known as the Merchant Marines Act of 1920. Originally, the law was designed to support the merchant marine.

Today, the law has extended certain federal protections under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to allow injured seamen to sue their employers for damages when they’re injured on the job.

The Jones Act protects seamen who work on any type of operational seagoing vessel, including:

  • Oil rigs
  • Fishing boats
  • Shrimp boats
  • Dive boats
  • Charter boats
  • Cruise ships
  • Floating cranes
  • Jack-ups
  • Drill ships
  • Tugs and towboats
  • Cargo ships
  • Construction barges 
  • Dredges 
  • Chemical ships
  • Research vessels

Anytime you were injured while working aboard a seagoing vessel, you could have rights under the federal Jones Act.

How Are Jones Act Claims Different From Workers’ Comp Claims?

Jones Act claims are different from Texas workers’ compensation claims. Under state workers’ compensation laws, you can recover compensation for on-the-job injuries without proving negligence. In exchange, you lose your right to sue your employer for damages.

Jones Act claims are more similar to personal injury claims. You do have to prove negligence to recover compensation under the Jones Act. However, you are entitled to bring a claim against your employer, a co-worker, a captain, or even the vessel’s owner.

Am I Entitled To Seek Compensation Under the Jones Act?

First and foremost, you must qualify as a “seaman” to seek compensation under the Jones Act.

You will qualify as a seaman if:

  • You contribute to the work of the vessel
  • You spend a significant amount of time working on the vessel, meaning that at least 30% of your time must be spent aboard the vessel

For example, the Jones Act generally protects:

  • Captains
  • Crewmembers 
  • Fishermen
  • Deckhands
  • Engineers 
  • Dive instructors
  • Entertainers, bartenders, chefs, and service industry professionals aboard cruise ships
  • Welders 

Restrictions also apply to the vessel itself. For the vessel’s employees to qualify for Jones Act benefits, the vessel must be operating within the U.S. Further, it must be a vessel in navigation, meaning that it is afloat. 

However, while the vessel cannot be drydocked, you may be entitled to benefits if you were injured working on the vessel while at port. The important thing is that the vessel is capable of moving.

What Types of Benefits Are Available Under the Jones Act?

When a Jones Act claim is successful, injured seamen are entitled to “maintenance and cure” benefits. If you were working on a vessel that was deemed to be unseaworthy, you may be entitled to benefits for unseaworthiness.

Maintenance and Cure

Maintenance and cure benefits are similar to the workers’ compensation benefits. They’re designed to provide you with financial support while you recover from your injuries. However, because Jones Act claims are fault-based, the benefits you can receive are slightly more extensive.

Some common examples of the types of benefits you may receive include:

  • Emergency room visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Medical devices
  • Prescription medications
  • Surgeries 
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Vocational or occupational therapy to prepare you for a new line of work
  • Mental health treatment and counseling
  • Reasonable living expenses while you recover onshore, including housing, food, transportation, utilities, and more
  • Additional damages for wrongful death

You’re entitled to receive these benefits until you’re fit for duty or until the doctor says you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) so that additional medical treatment won’t improve your condition.

Benefits for Unseaworthiness

Owners of seagoing vessels are required to provide a safe working environment for employees. That means they must maintain the vessel in seaworthy condition.

If you can prove the vessel was unseaworthy, you can require additional damages above and beyond maintenance and cure.

Examples of those damages include:

  • Reduced earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Shock and humiliation
  • Disfigurement 

These damages are similar to the types of non-economic damages available in a successful personal injury case.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Jones Act Lawyer in Houston?

Like most injury lawyers, we work on a contingency fee basis. Our fees are based on the amount of compensation we recover in your case. If we don’t successfully handle your case, you owe us nothing in attorney’s fees.

We’ll discuss our fee structure in more detail during your free case review. Just remember that you won’t have to pay anything upfront to hire our team as well.

Our Jones Act Attorneys in Houston Will Fight To Recover Compensation for All of Your Injuries

At Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers, we handle all types of Jones Act injury cases, including those involving:

If you were injured while working aboard a vessel, reach out to our Houston personal injury law firm for a free case review today. We’ll do everything possible to recover the full compensation you deserve.

Does the Jones Act Require Me To Prove Negligence to Recover Compensation for My Injuries?

Yes. To receive Jones Act benefits, you must prove that someone else who was working on the ship caused your injuries. 

Negligence means:

You don’t have to prove that your employer’s negligence was the sole cause of your injuries. You must only show that their negligence played a role in your accident. So, it may be possible for you to recover Jones Act benefits even if you were partly responsible for your own injuries.

Common Causes of Maritime Accidents

Negligence can take on many forms. To recover fair compensation, it’s critical to identify the cause of your injury.

Some of the most common causes of maritime accidents include:

  • Failure to maintain the vessel in seaworthy condition
  • Failure to hire and train qualified workers
  • Communication errors
  • Lack of proper safety equipment
  • Negligent security
  • Violence aboard the vessel
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Defective work equipment
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Understaffing 
  • Missing or damaged guardrails
  • Failure to properly store equipment or cargo
  • Missing or fire suppression equipment

When proving your case, standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and other regulatory agencies may be relevant.

How Long Do I Have To File a Claim for Compensation Under the Jones Act in Texas?

Under federal law, you have three years to file your Jones Act claim. This statute of limitations starts to run on the date of your injury.

There are some exceptions to the rule. For example, you may have more time to act if you don’t discover a work-related illness until some time has passed. However, the exceptions to the rule are rare. It’s always a better idea to consult a lawyer sooner rather than later.

Contact an Undefeated Houston Jones Act Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Our lawyers at Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers know that working aboard a vessel can be dangerous. We’re here to protect your right to compensation if you were injured on the job. Contact our law office today to learn more about how an unbeaten Houston Jones Act lawyer can help you fight for the full compensation you deserve.

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Jones Act Infographic

Jones Act Infographic