Aerial view of cruise ship

Maritime Accidents

If you are a maritime worker injured on the job or a tourist injured on a cruise, it can have a profound impact on every facet of your life.

An attorney can provide trusted advice and help you recover compensation so you and your family can comfortably adjust to your new life.

At The Shelton Law Firm in Houston, TX, Michael E. Shelton devotes considerable time to representing victims of maritime accidents.

Positive Case Results $1,685,000 Maritime Law Award


Mr. Shelton was able to obtain a $1,685,000 award on behalf of a client who suffered a serious back injury while working on a pipelay barge.

Contact Our Practice

If you have been injured in an accident while employed at sea, seek the advice of a trusted and experienced Houston maritime lawyer. At The Shelton Law Firm, Michael E. Shelton has successfully advocated for maritime workers for more than 40 years. Whether you are in Texas, Louisiana, or anywhere in the United States, get in touch with us about your maritime injury case.

Contact The Shelton Law Firm online to ask a question or request a free consultation. We respond promptly to your online messages. You can also reach us immediately by phone:

Call: (713) 807-0700

Mr. Shelton portrait
Your free initial consultation with Michael E. Shelton is as close as your phone.
Our Houston-based injury attorney can advocate for your rights and fight for the financial compensation you deserve following an offshore injury. 

"Mr. Mike just went into action." Hear From Our Client, Andrea

Andrea gives an emotional testimonial about the time she and her family sought the help of the Houston-based Shelton Law Firm.

What Employees Do We Represent? Maritime Workers Under the Jones Act

Federal laws, such as the Jones Act, allow maritime workers to sue their employers when they have been injured at sea due to their employer's negligence. The Jones Act applies to workers on all types of maritime vessels, including:

  • Boats
  • Ships
  • Barges
  • Cargo ships
  • Oil carrier
  • Tugboats
  • Cruise ships
  • Tour boats
  • Fishing vessels
  • Drilling vessels
  • Ferries
  • Commercial diving boats
  • Offshore drilling rigs
People come to Houston for legal help because they know Mr. Shelton has a deep understanding of maritime law and a proven track record of success representing people injured on oil rigs, barges, and more. 

Do I Have a Workers' Comp Case or a Personal Injury Case?

Employer giving worker compensation check

The answer depends on many factors, including where your injury occurred and whether your employer carries workers' comp insurance. If you are a Texan whose employer has workers' compensation insurance, a workers' comp claim is most likely the best way to pursue restitution. If they are not insured, you have a right to pursue a personal injury claim.

In either case, insurance companies often try to deny or minimize claims so they only pay injured workers and their families the bare minimum, if anything at all. Mr. Shelton understands their tactics and can fight on your behalf. Mr. Shelton is adept at achieving justice on behalf of injured workers, no matter what type of claim applies.

Deadlines Are Fast Approaching

Statutes of limitation set strict deadlines for filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. These vary by state. In Texas, you have two years from the date of your injury to file your personal injury lawsuit, and two years from the date of a loved one's passing to file a wrongful death suit. Workers' comp cases require reporting your injury to your employer within 30 days of the incident and filing your claim within a year.

Mr. Shelton can take timely action when it comes to a multitude of work injuries, including offshore injuries that fall under maritime law. To request your free consultation, call

(713) 807-0700

Shelton Law Firm office

Causes of Maritime Accidents

Maritime accidents may be caused by human error or other dangerous situations.

Human Error

Human errors that contribute to maritime accidents include:

  • Long hours
  • Fatigue
  • Inexperience
  • Lack of training
  • Extended time at sea
  • Reckless behavior, including drug and alcohol abuse
  • Poor decision making
  • Lack of proper safety equipment
  • Negligence

Dangerous Events

There are many dangerous events that can occur, including:

  • Collisions
  • Equipment failure
  • Falls
  • Injury due to unsecured cargo
  • Commercial diving accidents
  • Injury due to dangerous weather conditions
  • Grounding of a ship
  • Fires
  • Explosions
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or death while working on these types of vessels, you may be able to pursue compensation from the employer under the Jones Act.

Tourists on Cruise Ships

While cruises are intended to be enjoyable vacations, we have all read news reports about injuries and other problems that tourists experience on cruise ships. If you have suffered serious injuries due to an accident or other traumatic event on a cruise ship, you may have a maritime case.

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Falls or drowning in swimming pools
  • Recreation activity accidents
  • Falls overboard
  • Food poisoning
  • Illness
  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Elevator or escalator accidents
  • Fires

When passengers are injured on cruise ships, their case is subject to general maritime laws. When a crew member is injured, the case is subject to laws set by the Jones Act.

Evidence Indicating a Vessel Is Unseaworthy

Under federal law, all ships in operation must be seaworthy, meaning they must be safe to be used for their intended purpose. This standard allows an injured maritime worker to sue his or her employer under a strict liability theory. The worker does not need to show that his or her employer knew the ship was unsafe. The worker only needs to show that the ship was, in fact, unsafe and he or she was injured as a result.

A ship may be considered unseaworthy if any of the following conditions exist:

  • Inadequate or missing safety equipment, including lifesaving equipment
  • Failure to comply with safety regulations
  • Understaffed boat or insufficient supervision
  • Defective boat design
  • Dangerous, defective, or insufficient tools or equipment
  • Insufficient or improperly trained crew members
  • Unreasonably slippery or obstructed decks

The Longshore Harbor
and Workers’ Compensation Act 

The law also provides certain protection to American workers injured in other kinds of maritime accidents, as well as those that occur outside the United States.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that differs from the Jones Act in that it covers shipbuilders, harbor construction workers, and longshore workers. Regardless of the occupation, to be covered under the LHWCA, maritime injuries must have occurred on American navigable waters or areas connected to navigable waters, like docks, piers, terminals, and wharves. 

Congress has added several extensions to the LHWCA that apply to additional workers. The Defense Base Act covers employees of various private companies or contractors who are hired by the American government and operate outside the continental United States. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act applies to employees of offshore oil rigs and other natural resource extractors. The Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act covers employees who work for companies that support the United States military, such as daycare workers and commissary workers.

Mr. Shelton can review the details of your case, identify the applicable laws, and fight for your right to compensation for your injuries.

5-Star Review From a Client Happy They Came to Houston

"Mr. Shelton is a superb lawyer with great experience in personal injury cases, such as mine. He has not once let me down and is very supportive in every way. Because of my injury, I have not been able to work, but Mr. Shelton has made sure to help my family financially until my case is over.... I highly recommend Mr. Shelton for anyone who has had an accident at work." Jaime
Michael E. Shelton

The Shelton Law Firm

Personal injury attorney Michael E. Shelton has been representing victims of catastrophic injuries in Houston, Texas, for nearly 50 years. He is proud to be a union card holder as a journeyman pipefitter and General Counsel for the Texas Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO. He is affiliated with several prestigious organizations, including:

  • The Texas Bar Association
  • The Houston Bar Association
  • The Louisiana State Bar
  • The Louisiana Association for Justice

If you are the victim of a personal injury, schedule a free consultation with The Shelton Law Firm today by contacting us online or calling (713) 807-0700.

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