Houston Maritime Attorneys

Houston Maritime Attorneys

We Serve Injured Maritime Workers Nationwide. Offices in Texas & Louisiana.

Just like any other industry, seamen are at risk for suffering work-related injuries any time they are on the clock. The courts recognize this and are continually working to protect injured seamen through general maritime law. Maritime law gives workers who have been injured offshore or in the maritime industry the chance to claim necessary compensation for any suffering of medical complications.


History of Admiralty & Maritime Law

Maritime law—also referred to as admiralty law—is nearly as old as the shipping industry itself and governs most accidents that occur on navigable waters. The law’s roots can be traced back to the unwritten customs of nautical behavior of the Egyptians and Greeks. However, the earliest formal codes were established around 900 BC on the Greek island of Rhodes. The original maritime laws and codes stemmed from the ancient customs and rules of shipping. For example, the Doctrine of General Average—the concept that all sea cargo stakeholders (owner, shipper, etc.) evenly share any damage or losses that may occur as a result of a voluntary sacrifice of part of the vessel or cargo to save the whole—can be traced back to the early shipping customs of the Rhodians.

The concept of a separate legal authority regulating maritime issues was brought to the west by Eleanor of Aquitaine, who learned of the concept when she accompanied her first husband King Louis VII of France to the Mediterranean on the Second Crusade. The term admiralty law came from the British admiralty courts, who presided over maritime matters separately from England's common law courts. As the U.S. judicial system is based on the British system, amended admiralty laws were gradually incorporated into our legal system soon after the constitution was ratified.

Though still based on industry standards and customs, maritime law is largely found in the U.S. Constitution, treatises and international conventions, federal statutes, the general maritime law, and other judicial decisions, administrative regulations, and customs.

When Does Maritime Law Apply?

Perhaps most obviously, maritime law applies to events that occur on high seas—in other words, accidents that happen beyond the territorial waters of any country. Furthermore, maritime law applies to the territorial sea, which are waters within 12 miles of the shore.

However, the law’s applicability becomes less clear further inland. Early in the United States’ history, maritime law did not apply to incidents that occurred within the “body of the country” and therefore excluded incidents involving the Great Lakes and nontidal inland waterways. However, throughout the 19th century, this exclusion eroded away.

Maritime law is now applied to “navigable waters.” A waterway is deemed navigable if by itself, or by uniting with other waters, it can serve as a “continued highway over which commerce is or may be carried on with other States or foreign countries.” Consequently, if a body of water is completely landlocked within a single state, then it is not navigable for purposes of admiralty jurisdiction.

However, a body of water doesn’t need to flow between states to be deemed navigable. A body of water may be deemed navigable if it is a link in a chain of bodies of water that can be used to service interstate commerce. Ultimately, the test is that the commerce of one state must be capable of being carried into another state or a foreign country. Once this test has been passed, it is likely that maritime law will be applicable, even if it is a recreational vessel.

Incidents That Require Texas Maritime Accident Attorneys

Houston maritime injury attorneys exist to help injured seamen or dock workers get the compensation they need to recover from serious injuries and afford long-term medical costs that occurred offshore. That includes any accidents that occur on "navigable waters" (rivers and ocean) and in harbors or docks.

Our maritime lawyers have represented clients who were injured in:

One notable aspect of maritime accidents is that they're often devastating. Offshore oil rig explosions cause significant damages, vessel collisions are frequently catastrophic, and oil platforms can unfairly change the lives of workers. Maritime lawyers fight to help workers recover the compensation they deserve, whether they're suffering after a major explosion or have injuries caused by unsafe working conditions.

Our maritime attorneys represented more crew members of the Deepwater Horizon and the El Faro than any other law firm. We not only understand maritime law but the practices and culture of maritime employers. Speak with us to discuss your case so we can go over your legal and financial options.

The Basics of Maritime Law

Maritime law is derived from many sources: federal statutes and general maritime law being two of the most prominent. These sources provide some of the maritime doctrines that are commonly used in cases involving vessels and their passengers and crew.

Maritime law sets forth many of the basic legal tenets associated with the sea and seamen, including:

  • Seaman’s Right to Maintenance and Cure: Maintenance and cure are benefits that an injured seaman receives from an employer during the course of recovery. Maintenance includes such expenses as the seaman’s rent or mortgage, utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and food. Cure is similar to workers’ compensation benefits for land-based employees; it covers costs related to medical treatment for the work-related injury. A seaman is someone who is a captain or crew member aboard a vessel in navigation. Also similar to worker’s compensation, Maintenance and cure does not require that the seaman prove any fault for their injury—the employer is required to pay.

  • The Jones Act: The Jones Act is a federal law that gives seamen a statutory right to sue their employer for personal injury damages. However, a seaman must spend at least 30% of their time working on a vessel to qualify for the Jones Act. Not only does the Jones Act provide the seaman a statutory right to sue their employer, it also eases the burden of proof needed to prove causation between the employer’s negligence and the seaman’s injury; under the Jones Act, the employer’s negligence only needs to play a part in the seaman’s injury rather than being a proximate cause. The Jones Act also incorporates aspects of the Federal Employment Liability Act. In particular, claims filed in state court under the Jones Act are not removable to federal court.

  • The Death on High Seas Act: When the death of an individual is caused by a wrongful act or neglect occurring on the high seas, the Death on High Seas Act guarantees that a personal representative of the decedent can bring a claim.

  • The Saving to Suitors Clause: Federal law establishes exclusive jurisdiction for admiralty and maritime cases in the federal district courts absent any language indicating the contrary within a statutorily created right, such as the Jones Act. However, the “saving to suitors” clause reserves any non-admiralty remedies that may be available to an individual. An example of an admiralty remedy is a suit in which the claim is brought against the ship.

  • Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act: Federal law created certain statutory rights for employees who are not necessarily “seamen” but nonetheless work on harbors or vessels that are under repair or being built. This law covers longshore workers, ship-repairers, shipbuilders or ship-breakers, and harbor construction workers. Moreover, the injuries must occur on navigable waters or an adjoining area, such as a dock. This law provides for the payment of compensation and medical care for an individual injured while on the job or survivor benefits. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act extends the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act to employees engaged in offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Jurisdiction in Maritime Law Cases

In the U.S., jurisdiction over admiralty law matters was originally given to the federal courts. However, today most admiralty cases can be heard by both state and federal courts under the saving to suitors clause in Title 28 of the United States Code (28 U.S.C. § 1333). The exception to this is any matter involving maritime property; those cases may only be tried in federal court. If a state court presides over an admiralty case, the court is required to apply admiralty or maritime law rather than its state law.

How Does Maritime Law Provide for Hurt Workers?

Without maritime law, injured seamen would be left on their own to counteract the suffering they sustained while working. Anytime a ship employee becomes injured or sick, the vessel owner is required to reimburse their losses. Maritime law refers to this reimbursement as maintenance and cure, meaning that until the seaman fully recovers, the employer must provide for their affliction. The court views this obligation as an unquestionable duty that the shipowner owes any seaman aboard their vessel. Seamen are also eligible to recover full wages for the length of the voyage during which they sustained injuries or illness. An employment contract may dictate the amount of unearned wages a seaman can receive.


Maintenance and cure refer to the benefits a seaman is entitled to until he/she recovers and is fit for duty. However, there is a maximum medical improvement (MMI) limit that can control the amount of compensation received.

Because many ship owners are loathe to pay the highest amount possible, they either follow old rates (from $15 to $35 a day) or regulate cure benefits by hand-picking covered medical treatments. The U.S. Supreme Court states the duty to provide maintenance and cure must be broad and inclusive. In the case of compensation, the seaman is almost always favored when skepticism is involved.

Catastrophic Maritime Injuries

In some instances, an offshore accident can cause injuries that are so serious that they change a person's life permanently. These types of injuries are so notorious that the medical and legal community has a word for them: catastrophic injuries. When a person has this type of offshore injury, their injuries will likely impact the rest of their life. In some instances, certain injuries mean that a person won't be able to earn a living with physical work as they once didn't. In other cases, it means that every aspect of a person's life is impacted by the severity of their injuries.

Serious maritime injuries that change lives include:

Often, these offshore injuries require a lifetime of medical care. When workers are suffering from an accident they didn't cause, they deserve compensation for the care that will make their life as comfortable as possible.

Maritime Burn Injuries

One of the most catastrophic injuries that can occur in a maritime accident is a burn injury. If you suffered a burn injury during a maritime accident, it is vital to contact a top-rated Houston maritime burn injury lawyer as quickly as possible. Arnold & Itkin LLP has helped hundreds of injured seamen advocate for their rights, including those who have suffered serious burn injuries while working offshore.

Experienced maritime workers know that fires can ignite in most offshore environments. These incidents can lead to severe burn injuries.

Common causes of offshore burn injuries include:

  • Contact with Hazardous Chemicals: Highly flammable chemicals can cause severe burns.

  • Electrical accidents: Faulty or improperly handled electrical equipment can spark a fire.

  • Engine Room Fires: Malfunctions in engine room can cause an explosion or fire.

  • Equipment Malfunctions: Hazardous or defective equipment can cause a fire.

  • Explosions: Caused by highly flammable chemicals used for vessels or onboard equipment.

Types of Burn Injuries a Maritime Worker Can Experience

There are several degrees of burn injuries depending on the severity of the burn. Burn injuries can be caused by extreme heat, electricity, chemicals, radiation, or friction. Any of these burn hazards are present on seafaring vessels or offshore rigs.

Burn injuries can range from mild to life-altering burns, including:

  • First-Degree Burns: This is usually a surface burn that does not necessarily require medical attention, but may cause irritation and pain.

  • Second-Degree Burns: This is a more severe burn that may cause blisters and may extend below the surface. Healing can take a few weeks.

  • Third & Fourth-Degree Burns: These are the most serious burn injuries because they extend through the entire layer of tissue that lies below the surface. This layer contains structures, such as nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles, and blood capillaries. These burn injuries are much more severe and will require a longer healing process and more medical attention.

Serious Burn Injury Complications

Severe burn injuries can lead to serious complications if not treated properly.

Third- or fourth-degree burn complications include:

  • Hypothermia resulting from the loss of body heat due to the damaged skin.

  • Hypovolemia from damaged blood vessels causing your body to lose blood and other fluids.

  • Infections resulting from the lack of protective barriers due to the damaged skin.

  • Joint difficulties can result from the build-up of scar tissue.

  • Sepsis can result from an infection—this is a life-threatening condition.

Hospitalization costs for catastrophic burns can run into the six-figure range. This is why it is vital to contact an attorney as soon as possible to recover financial compensation for your injuries. Suffering these injuries without support can destabilize your future, and the sooner you get in contact with a maritime burn injury lawyer, the better your chances of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

Houston Maritime Brain Injury Attorneys

Head injuries occur frequently in the maritime industry—depending on the severity of the injury, lifelong treatment may be needed. In many cases it may seem as though cases could have not been prevented; in reality, many brain injury accidents could have been prevented with the proper precautions. If that's the case, you may be able to file a claim under the Jones Act.

Some of the most common causes of brain injuries include:

  • Broken equipment

  • Conveyor belt accidents

  • Crane and cargo accidents

  • Improper safety guidelines/training

  • Improperly stored equipment

  • Lack of safety equipment

  • Poor ship maintenance

  • Slip and fall accidents

Types of Brain Injuries & Common Symptoms

When a maritime worker suffers a head injury, it’s one of two types: a closed head injury and an open head injury. A closed head injury is when an injury doesn’t cause the skull to be broken, fractured, or pierced. An open head injury is when the skull is pierced or fractured. Although open head injuries may seem more severe, closed head injuries are difficult to diagnose and can require extensive treatment.

Common symptoms of brain injuries include:

  • Cognitive Damage – Memory loss, trouble with concentration and attention.

  • Sensory Symptoms – Loss of vision, hearing loss, or loss of taste or smell.

  • Physical Symptoms – Seizures, headaches, paralysis, insomnia, chronic pain, or language difficulties.

  • Behavioral/Emotional Symptoms – Irritability, anger, depression, and dramatic mood swings.

Any level of brain damage can have a serious impact on an employee’s daily life, altering their personality and their ability to make a living. When a brain injury happens because an employer or co-worker was negligent, it’s vital for injured people to hold at-fault parties accountable—for their own sake, the sake of other employees, and the sake of the loved ones they support.

Maritime Amputation Injury Lawyers

Although not all maritime injuries are caused by negligence, amputation injuries often are. If an employer or vessel owner fails to maintain equipment, train the crew, or create a safe work environment, it can cause serious injuries that require amputation.

Some of these accidents may be caused due to the following:

  • Unsecured cargo

  • Navigation collisions

  • Lack of safety and equipment training

  • Defective and malfunctioning equipment

It is vital to work with equipment and machinery that is regularly maintained so that it is working correctly. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers are properly trained to use the equipment. If your employer has not met this standard and you lost a limb as a result, he or she was negligent and should be held accountable.

Amputation Treatment

Surgery is required to treat a lost limb or to amputate a limb. Once you have had surgery, you may still need extensive physical and emotional therapy to help you adjust to the new reality of missing a limb or using a prosthetic limb. These payment costs can be difficult for an injured maritime worker to handle, especially while supporting a family. Our firm often has to help our clients rebuild their financial security in the wake of costly medical treatments. This is why it is vital to contact a maritime amputation injury attorney as soon as possible.

Recovering Compensation for Amputation Injuries

If you suffered severe injuries in a maritime accident that required amputation, you have the right to receive compensation. Limb loss is a financially costly loss; patients face treatment costs for the rest of their lives. Under maritime law, you have several avenues for recovering damages, especially if negligence is involved. Since maritime law is different from laws on land, it is vital to contact an experienced maritime amputation injury attorney as soon as possible to help you receive the best possible results for your case.


The Limitation Liability Act protects vessel owners from having to pay compensation for an injury or death that exceeds the value of their craft. This can be bad news for a maritime worker with a claim.

Once a vessel owner files a limitation of liability suit, the proceedings for all claims are stayed. This stay lasts until they consolidate the hearings into a single proceeding where those with competing claims may have to accept pro-rated settlements.

Additionally, limitation liability suits disallow jury trials. Fortunately, some personal injury suits are exempt. These include suits for wages owed to seamen as well as maintenance and cure claims.

If a limitation liability suit has been filed to counter your claim, you need a qualified maritime injury lawyer. Houston is home to one of the best firms in the business, Cobos Law Firm. Moreover, we provide a free initial consultation to help you understand your rights.


The LHWCA is similar to the Jones Act. It provides an avenue for maritime workers to receive compensation for lost wages, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation due to an injury sustained on the job. Whether workers are covered under the Jones Act or the LHWCA is strictly tied to their occupational relationships to the vessel.

Seamen are covered by the Jones Act. Longshore workers, dock workers, harbor construction workers, and the like are covered by the LHWCA. If you’re a longshoreman or harbor worker seeking  representation from a knowledgeable maritime injury lawyer, Houston is the best place to look.

The Cobos Law Firm in Houston, TX, specializes in maritime law and can help you get the fair compensation you deserve.

The History of Maritime Law & Admiralty Law

Admiralty law, now known as maritime law, governs incidents that occur at sea as well as the conduct of vessels. Many countries have their own laws that cover seamen, the conveyance of passengers, and maritime commerce. However, multilateral treaties established many internationally recognized aspects of admiralty law.

Because ships were one of the earliest means of transportation over long distances, these rules date back to ancient Greece. Later, Eleanor of Aquitaine brought the concept of a legal authority that regulates maritime concerns to the west. She learned of this concept during the Second Crusade while accompanying King Louis VII of France to the Mediterranean.

British admiralty courts set the basis for the term admiralty law as they presided over maritime issues as a separate entity from the common law courts. Because the United States based its judicial system on that of Britain, it incorporated admiralty laws soon after the ratification of the Constitution.


Originally, jurisdiction over maritime matter went to federal courts. Today, many maritime injury cases are heard in either state or federal courts. The saving to suitors clause in Title 28 of the United States Code (28 U.S.C. § 1333) established this option.

However, the exception to this is any case that involves maritime property. These cases must be tried in a federal court. The most important thing to remember is that when a state court presides over a maritime case, they have to apply maritime law, not state law.

This means that you need an experienced maritime injury lawyer. Houston residents often trust The Cobos Law Firm to handle maritime cases. Our strategic mindset and pursuit of your best interests makes us a strong advocate. Contact our firm today for a free case evaluation with our maritime law attorneys.


Admiralty law established the foundation of the legal tenants that govern the sea as well as maritime workers. These basic tenants set a precedent for our Houston maritime lawyers to help you hold negligent parties accountable. This includes the following:

  • Seaman and creditors owed wages have the right to have a Maritime Lien against a vessel, providing a security interest to ensure payment.

  • Rescuers have the right to claim a maritime salvage award when they recover property that was lost at sea.

  • Shipowners have a duty to provide reasonable care to their workers and passengers.

When negligence results in the injury of a passenger, that passenger has the right to bring a lawsuit against the shipowner.

Maintenance and cure requires shipowners to care for injured crew members.

“Maintenance” creates an obligation for owners to provide seamen and maritime workers with basic living expenses until they are able to return to work. On the other hand, “cure” requires shipowners to provide injured workers with free medical care. This includes cases of permanent or long-term care.

The shipowner provides care until the seaman reaches “maximum medical cure,” which means they are as close as possible to their condition before the injury.

What Does a Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer Cover?

Oftentimes, maritime work is dangerous, and the injuries seamen sustain are not covered by typical workers’ compensation laws of a state. A Houston maritime injury lawyer can represent seamen in various claims such as barge and cargo ship accidents, commercial fishing accidents, shipyard accidents, drilling rig and oil platform accidents, wrongful death, and more.

When looking for a maritime injury lawyer Houston area residents recognize Cobos Law Firm as an industry leader in helping seamen recover costs for injuries that have impacted their ability to work, for medical bills and rehab costs as well as pain and suffering.

When you work with a Houston maritime injury lawyer from our firm, our attorney advocates for your best interests and hold those responsible for your injuries accountable.

A Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer Can Help Recover Full Costs for Maritime Accidents

Our law office in Houston, TX, offers legal representation for cases involving maritime injuries. Andrew Cobos is a Texas lawyer who represents clients after they have sustained work-related injuries or illnesses.

After a serious accident, you might incur an array of different costs. These costs have an immediate impact on your life. However, that impact can last for years to come. Often, these immediate effects are quite obvious:

  • Inability to work

  • Expensive bills

  • Pain and suffering

  • Rehabilitation

When it comes to maritime injuries, it’s not always easy to understand the long-term impact of an injury. Your Houston maritime lawyer advocates for you to recover crucial damages that can help in the event of lifelong medical attention. Moreover, it is hard to know the long-term effects, which means you need to be prepared.

Maritime Law: Maintenance & Cure

An offshore, work-related injury can be devastating, not just because of the injury itself, but also for your ability to continue to meet your financial obligations. Maintenance and cure laws help to ensure the injured party’s medical and rehabilitation bills are paid as well as basic day-to-day living expenses during the recuperation period.

If you have been sidelined by a maritime injury and are in need of a maritime injury lawyer Houston has a top legal resource in Cobos Law Firm. A Houston maritime injury lawyer from Cobos Law understands maintenance and cure laws and what is required to put together a solid case for you in court.

Rest assured, when you engage a Houston maritime injury lawyer from Cobos Law Firm, you are in good hands.


You might be entitled to compensation if you’ve gotten hurt while working offshores, on a vessel, or in the Port of Houston. Contact the experienced Houston maritime injury attorneys at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers to learn more about your potential legal options.

Our team will review your case, provide a brief overview of your rights, and answer any questions you have. Your first consultation is, free so call now.

Our personal injury law firm in Houston, TX also handles:

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