Undefeated Maritime Injury Lawyers
Texas Maritime Lawyers with the Largest Wins in History
Offshore drilling and other maritime industries play a pivotal role in powering our nation and sustaining global trade. The Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas industry alone supports an estimated $30.8 billion of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the American Petroleum Institute. But the men and women who work aboard offshore oil and gas platforms, seagoing vessels, and at shipyards and port facilities often face profound risks that endanger their well-being and even their lives.
The threat of equipment malfunctions, safety lapses, and weather-related emergencies loom large over every maritime industry, where inadequate training and any failure to follow safety protocols can quickly trigger a catastrophic, life-altering offshore accident or explosion.
Injured maritime workers and their families are often left to pick up the pieces on their own, despite employer assurances that they will “take care of” them or “make things right.” Unfortunately, such promises usually amount to little. In our experience, in the wake of any offshore accident, maritime employers and their insurance adjusters are only concerned with one thing: saving money by paying victims and their families as little as possible, no matter the actual extent of their injuries and losses.
Contact our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here
When you hire our Maritime Lawyers to work on your case, you’re getting a team of the best and brightest offshore injury attorneys in the country who genuinely care about you and your family and are going to devote whatever time and resources are necessary to ensure that you receive the best medical care available and the maximum compensation possible.
Call our Undefeated Offshore Injury Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636, use the chat feature on our website, or send us a confidential email through our Contact Form.
All consultations are free, and you won’t owe us a dime unless we win your case.
Offshore and Maritime Industries in the United States
Maritime industries are vital to the economy of Texas, Louisiana, and other coastal states, either directly employing or supporting other industries that provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country.
Offshore Oil and Gas Industry
The offshore oil and gas industry is by far the largest grossing maritime industry operating in U.S. coastal waters. The sector, including drilling, production, and support services, supports an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 U.S. jobs, including positions on drilling rigs, in offshore operations, and in related industries such as engineering, logistics, and manufacturing.
Much of the nation’s offshore drilling industry is centered in the western and central Gulf of Mexico, offshore of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. As of 2023, the companies with the largest Gulf Coast drilling operations include: Chevron, Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Delfin LNG, Beacon Offshore Energy, Conco Philips, Allseas Group, Hess Corporation, and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
In April 2010, a catastrophic well blowout triggered a massive explosion aboard BP’s Deep Water Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast, tragically killing 11 workers and injuring many others. By the time the damaged well was finally capped on July 15, more than four million barrels of crude oil had spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, causing extensive environmental damage along the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers successfully represented five of the workers who were seriously injured onboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, winning highly favorable, confidential settlements on their behalf.
Employment in Other Maritime Industries
Not all of the nation’s maritime workers are employed in the oil and gas sector. Other industries driving offshore employment include:
- Maritime Transportation: The maritime transportation industry, including shipping, ports, and related services vital to the movement of goods both domestically and internationally, provides over 2 million jobs in the U.S.
- Shipbuilding and Repair: Shipbuilding and drydock facilities support thousands of jobs at shipyard manufacturing and maintenance jobs throughout the country.
- Fishing and Seafood Industry: The commercial fishing and seafood industry also contributes to maritime employment, supporting jobs in fishing, processing, and distribution.
- Tourism and Recreation: Coastal tourism and recreation, which often rely on access to maritime activities and coastal areas, support millions of jobs in the hospitality, tourism, and entertainment sectors.
The Most Common Causes of Offshore Injury and Death
Offshore and maritime workers face unique challenges and hazards that can lead to injuries and deaths. While the specific causes can vary depending on the type of work and the location, some of the most common causes of injury and death among offshore and maritime workers include:
- Slips, Trips, and Falls: Slippery decks, uneven surfaces, and the constant motion of vessels can lead to slips, trips, and falls. These accidents can result in a range of injuries, from minor bruises to more severe fractures and head injuries.
- Falls from Heights: Working on elevated platforms, rigs, or ships poses the risk of falling from heights. Inadequate fall protection measures or improper use of safety equipment can lead to severe injuries or fatalities.
- Machinery Accidents: Offshore and maritime work often involves heavy machinery and equipment. Inadequate training, equipment malfunction, or lack of maintenance can result in accidents, crush injuries, or limb amputations.
- Fires and Explosions: Offshore drilling and the transportation of flammable materials create the potential for fires and explosions. Workers may suffer burn injuries, respiratory problems, or trauma
- Chemical Exposures: Contact with hazardous chemicals and substances, such as oil and toxic gases, can lead to chemical burns, respiratory issues, and long-term health problems.
- Equipment Malfunctions: Malfunctions of equipment critical to drilling or maritime operations can have severe consequences. This includes incidents like blowouts on drilling rigs or engine failures on vessels.
- Weather and Environmental Factors: Offshore workers are exposed to extreme weather conditions, rough seas, and harsh environments. Adverse weather can lead to accidents, injuries, or the worsening of existing health conditions.
- Lifting and Manual Handling: Handling heavy loads and equipment without proper lifting techniques or equipment can result in back injuries, strains, and musculoskeletal disorders.
- Fatigue and Long Hours: The nature of offshore work often involves long shifts and irregular hours, leading to fatigue. Fatigued workers are more likely to make mistakes or overlook safety precautions intended to keep them and their fellow workers safe.
Maritime Companies Have a Duty to Protect Their Workers
Offshore drillers and other maritime companies have a legal and ethical duty to ensure the safety and well-being of their workers. This duty is rooted in various laws, regulations, and industry standards designed to protect workers in these hazardous environments. Some of the key responsibilities and duties that offshore drillers and maritime companies have to ensure worker safety include:
- Compliance with Regulations: Offshore companies must comply with all applicable federal, state, and international regulations and standards governing offshore and maritime operations. This includes s compliance with regulations established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
- Provide Adequate Training: Maritime employers are responsible for providing comprehensive and ongoing training to their workers. This includes safety, emergency response and specialized training for specific job roles.
- Maintaining Safe Equipment: Offshore drillers and maritime companies must ensure that all equipment and machinery used in their operations are properly maintained, inspected, and in safe working condition. Regular maintenance and inspections are critical to preventing equipment-related accidents.
- Implementing Safety Protocols: Offshore employers must establish and enforce strict safety protocols and procedures. This includes protocols for using personal protective equipment (PPE), safe work practices, emergency response plans, and more.
- Providing Adequate Resources: Maritime companies must allocate sufficient resources to support safety initiatives. This includes funding for safety training, equipment, maintenance, and hiring qualified personnel responsible for safety oversight.
- Emergency Preparedness: Preparing for emergencies is a fundamental duty. Maritime employers must have plans to respond to accidents, fires, spills, medical emergencies, and other critical incidents. Workers should be trained on these plans and know their roles in emergencies.
- Safety Culture: Promoting a culture of safety is essential. Companies should foster an environment where workers feel empowered to report safety concerns and near misses without fear of retaliation. Open communication is key to identifying and addressing safety hazards.
- Accident Investigation: When accidents occur, offshore companies must conduct thorough investigations to determine the root causes and take corrective actions to prevent similar incidents in the future.
- Environmental Stewardship: In addition to worker safety, offshore drillers and maritime companies must also prioritize environmental protection. This includes adhering to environmental regulations and taking measures to prevent spills and other environmental accidents.
- Continuous Improvement: Safety practices and technology are continually evolving. Companies are responsible for staying current with best practices and improving safety measures based on lessons learned from incidents and advancements in safety technology.
Unfortunately, it’s been our experience that the majority of offshore injuries and deaths are entirely preventable and are the direct result of maritime companies’ failure to comply with the regulations and standards put in place to ensure worker safety.
For example, while the Deepwater Horizon explosion was directly attributable to the failure of the rig’s blowout preventer, it’s since been proven that a series of safety lapses, including inadequate cementing of the well, flawed pressure testing, and less-than-rigorous safety culture, were significant contributors to that catastrophe.
Understanding Maritime Law After an Offshore Injury and Death
Offshore and maritime workers in the United States have specific rights and legal protections when injured on the job. These rights are designed to ensure that injured workers receive appropriate medical care, compensation for their injuries, and support during their recovery.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act, formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that, among other things, provides specific legal protections and remedies for maritime workers and their families in the event of an injury or death that occurs in U.S. territorial waters. The Jones Act only applies to workers who qualify as “seamen.” To be considered a seaman, a worker must spend a significant amount of time employed on a vessel, and their work must contribute to the vessel’s function or mission. Rights afforded to Jones Act seamen include:
- Right to Sue for Negligence: The Jones Act allows eligible seamen to sue their employers for injuries or deaths caused by negligence. If a worker can demonstrate that their injury resulted from the negligence of their employer, a fellow crewmember, or the unseaworthiness of the vessel, they have the right to seek compensation.
- Right to Maintenance and Cure: Injured seamen have the right to receive “maintenance” and “cure” benefits from their employers. Maintenance refers to daily living expenses, such as food and lodging, while cure covers medical expenses related to the injury. These benefits must be provided to the injured seaman until they reach maximum medical improvement, regardless of fault.
- Right to Wrongful Death Coverage: The Jones Act also allows surviving family members, such as spouses, children, and dependent parents, to bring a wrongful death claim if the death of a maritime worker occurred as a result of the employer’s negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel.
In order to receive compensation under the Jones Act, injured seaman and their survivors must file their claim within three years from the date of the injury or qualifying event.
Our Undefeated Maritime Injury Lawyers have used the Jones Act, among other maritime laws, to recover record-breaking verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured offshore workers and their families.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation law that provides benefits to maritime workers and their families in the event of a work-related injury, illness, or death. The LHWCA is specifically designed to cover workers engaged in maritime employment and activities but who are not considered seamen under the Jones Act. It extends workers’ compensation benefits to a broad range of employees involved in activities such as loading and unloading vessels, ship repair, and shipbuilding.
Unlike other legal remedies for maritime injuries, the LHWCA operates as a no-fault system. This means that eligible workers do not need to prove negligence or fault on the part of their employer to receive benefits. However, To pursue a claim under the LHWCA, you must notify your employer within 30 days of becoming aware of an injury or illness and file a complaint with the federal government within one year. These deadlines are strict, and if you do not act quickly, you may forfeit your right to recover damages and lost wages.
The Death on the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is a federal statute that allows family members to pursue wrongful death claims when a loved one dies as a result of a wrongful act, neglect, or default that occurs on the high seas, in international waters and away from the jurisdiction of any particular state.
DOHSA allows for the recovery of economic losses incurred by the surviving family members, such as financial support, benefits, and other financial contributions the deceased would have provided to their family. However, unlike some state-level wrongful death statutes, the act does not provide for the recovery of non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or emotional distress.
Like the Jones Act, claims brought under DOHSA must be filed within three years of an offshore injury or death.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ( OCSLA) extends the coverage of several federal laws, including the LHWCA, to maritime workers employed on the outer continental shelf. This means that maritime workers engaged in activities on the OCSLA may be eligible for benefits and protections provided by these laws. Claims filed under OCSLA are governed by the statute of limitations of the “closest adjacent state,” so if Texas is the closest adjacent state, the deadline to file a claim is two years from the date of an injury or death. If Louisiana is the closest adjacent state, injured maritime workers and their families have only one year to file an OCSLA.
The Limitation of Liability Act
Unfortunately, not every federal maritime law benefits injured workers. The Limitation of Liability Act actually allows vessel owners to significantly limit their liability for certain offshore incidents, including injuries and deaths, provided they can prove they had no knowledge of the specific circumstances that led to the incident. Injured maritime workers and the families of workers have a right to challenge any such attempt. To succeed, they must prove the vessel owner had knowledge of or was directly involved in the actions or negligence that led to the incident.
What to Do After an Offshore Injury: A Checklist
Maritime companies know they’re potentially looking at millions of dollars in liability after an offshore accident or explosion. If you or a loved one are hurt or tragically killed while working offshore, expect that the company will act quickly, hire a team of high-powered attorneys and do everything possible to avoid responsibility and pay you as little as possible.
If you don’t take immediate action to protect your rights, chances are you and your family will never receive full compensation for all of your injuries and losses:
- Immediately report any injuries to your supervisor so that an official report may be written.
- Request medical attention from your supervisor. Remember, you are not required to see the company doctor.
- DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING until you have consulted with an experienced maritime attorney. Other than the incident report itself, you are not required to sign or record any statements whatsoever. Any admissions about the accident can and will be used against you by your employer.
- Note the names and contact information of any witnesses, as well as the time and date the incident occurred.
- If you’re physically able, take pictures of the accident scene and anything that may have caused your injury.
- If your employer does not immediately begin paying maintenance and cure as required, contact an experienced offshore injury lawyer.
- Do not discuss settlement or accepting any money from your employer until you have consulted a maritime lawyer and fully understand the true extent of your injuries and how much money it will actually take to cover your needs, both now and in the future.
Unparalleled Commitment to Our Clients and the Largest Maritime and Jones Act Recoveries in History
If you watch our Client Video Testimonials or our firm’s YouTube channel, you’ll notice something repeated over and over again: that we genuinely care about our clients and that we treat them like family.
It’s this commitment that motivates our Maritime Lawyers to consistently win the largest verdicts and settlements in history for our clients, and is why our clients continue to call and turn to our lawyers years after we’ve successfully resolved their cases.
Injured Working Offshore? Contact our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers for a Free Consult at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here
In addition to being Undefeated, our history of record-setting verdicts and settlements for injured offshore workers across Texas, Louisiana, and the United States has not only distinguished our Maritime Lawyers as the best in the country but also provided our firm with the resources and experience to stand up against the largest companies in the world and ensure that our clients and their families are fully compensated for all their injuries and damages.
Whether your claim falls under the Jones Act, DOHSA, or General Maritime Laws, our Undefeated Maritime Attorneys will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that you and your family receive the maximum compensation possible.
All consultations are free, and you won’t pay us anything unless we win your case.
Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a Confidential Email through our Contact Form.
Maritime and Jones Act FAQ Videos:
- Our Record-Setting Wins for Injured Offshore Workers
- What is the Jones Act and How Does it Protect Me
Some of our Recent Offshore Injury Recoveries:
- $30,000,000 Settlement
- $90,000,000 Settlement
- $3,300,000 Verdict
- $9,100,000 Settlement
- $5,500,000 Settlement
- $3,600,000 Settlement
- $2,700,000 Settlement
- $1,950,000 Settlement
- $1,900,000 Settlement
“I was injured in an offshore platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico where over 150 people, including myself, were injured and 2 people were killed. The companies responsible for causing the explosion hired a team of lawyers that fought me and my co-workers every step of the way. We were getting pushed around by the companies and their lawyers, until we hired Zehl & Associates. Zehl & Associates took our case, and got it ready for trial. When it came time to go to trial, the companies offered an amount as settlement that went way beyond my expectations. An offer that would not have been possible without Zehl & Associates hard work and diligence. Beyond the settlement, which helped me and family out tremendously as I could no longer work, Zehl & Associates treated me like family. Ryan and his team were always available to make sure that me and my family had everything we needed while the case was pending. I would recommend Zehl & Associates to anyone who was injured and needed the best personal injury lawyers to fight for them.”
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