Houston Maritime Lawyers

By:   Charles R. Lipcon

Admiralty and Maritime Lawyers in Houston: Were You Injured in an Accident at Sea?

Whether you were working on an offshore oil rig or enjoying a leisurely cruise, you may have encountered the unique hazards of the sea. In fact, there are thousands of accidents and injuries on waterways each year. If you were injured on a navigable waterway on the Gulf Coast, you need a maritime attorney in Houston.

Every attorney cannot handle the complexities of maritime law, but you have found the lawyers you need. Since 1971, our lawyers have helped thousands of injured ship passengers and crew members recover over $300 million. We can put our experience to work for you if you have been injured or experienced the death of a loved one at sea.

With over 165 years of combined experience, including representing clients injured in the Gulf of Mexico and Houston Ship Channel waterways, the attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have industry-wide maritime expertise. Our 12 attorneys are some of the world’s leading maritime law experts, and we can help you recover the injury compensation you deserve. We have successfully handled numerous crewmember injury cases against all of the major shipping companies including Crowley, Maersk, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL.

Give us a call to set up a free case evaluation where we can review and discuss your accident and advise you of your legal options. We’ll let you know if you are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. We work on a contingency fee, meaning you owe us nothing unless and until we win you compensation.

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Our Maritime Legal Expertise

Our Houston maritime lawyers will work to get you the highest recovery possible. We specialize in complicated maritime law cases, which are governed by different laws than land-based accidents. You need an attorney who understands maritime law and routinely wins clients millions for their injuries at sea.

Don’t just take our word for our legal expertise. Look at our firm’s track record:

  • Recovered over $300 million on behalf of our clients;
  • Successfully handled over 3,000 maritime personal injury claims;
  • Accumulated over 165 years of combined experience in maritime law;
  • Received more than 20 high-profile awards and distinctions, including 2020 Lawyer of the Year award for Admiralty and
  • Maritime Law;
  • Appeared on hundreds of nationally televised programs as the authority on admiralty and maritime law; and
  • Offer a free, zero-dollar, no-obligation consultation.

Contact us now so we can help you understand your rights and the steps you should take to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Work with a Team of Winning Houston Maritime Lawyers

Our Houston maritime attorneys have won landmark, precedent-setting cases. We push the limits of maritime law and take cases to trial to achieve legal victories that protect the rights of accident victims. Our attorneys have a reputation as aggressive, results-oriented legal advocates.

Read about our world-class advocacy in these cases.

Passenger Broken Hip on Royal Caribbean Cruise

Our client broke her hip after slipping and falling on a wet surface aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. The ship failed to alert passengers of the wet surface, causing unsafe conditions. We settled our client’s case for a confidential amount.

Passenger Rape by Crew Member

A 14 year-old girl aboard a cruise ship was walking alone on an open deck when the ship’s bartender dragged her into the ship’s pantry. There, the bartender raped the girl. The bartender pled guilty to sexual abuse of a minor. We settled our client’s case for a confidential amount. Due to the confidentiality agreement, we do not mention the name of the cruise line or the settlement amount.

Passenger Cervical Spine Injury on Carnival Cruise

A passenger was supervising her children in a Carnival Cruise Line water park when another passenger pushed from behind. She suffered a herniated disk in her cervical spine, requiring fusion surgery and transcutaneous nerve stimulation. Because Carnival failed to properly supervise passengers in the waterpark, we proved the cruise line was negligent and settled this injured woman’s case for a confidential amount.

Passenger Finger Amputation on Royal Caribbean Cruise

When a passenger’s finger was severed in a mechanical door on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, the ship’s doctor provided negligent medical treatment. Instead of evacuating the passenger for needed treatment, the ship’s doctor reattached her finger. As a result, the passenger’s finger was later amputated. We settled this passenger’s case for a confidential amount.

COVID-19 Passenger Class Action vs. Celebrity Cruises

We represent passengers injured by Celebrity’s careless decision to continue sailing the Celebrity Eclipse despite knowing of the dangerous contagiousness presented by a COVID-19 outbreak. This carelessness resulted in at least 45 passengers contracting COVID-19 and two deaths. We represent the family of one of the deceased passengers.

COVID-19 Crew Member Class Action vs. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

We filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Royal Caribbean crew members exposed to COVID-19 after the ship failed to follow basic safety precautions and social distancing recommended by the CDC. Instead, after the CDC issued a no-sail order, the ship threw a St. Patrick’s Day party for 1,000 employees. Hundreds of employees contracted COVID-19, and several died. We represent the family of the 27 year old Indonesian crewmember who died from the virus.

Seaman Burn Injuries

We won $25 million for a Mexican national seaman burned aboard a freighter. The seaman worked as an Oiler and sustained second- and third-degree burns over 80% of his body when the ship’s engine exploded. We gathered evidence of the vessel’s unseaworthiness and defended against an effort to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

Crew Member Death

We won $6 million for the family of a crew member killed aboard the cruise ship Scandinavian Sky. When the crew member performed maintenance work on the sewage system, a sewage leak emitted poisonous gases that killed him and three other crew members. We proved that the cruise ship improperly operated its sewage system so that it emitted poisonous gases.

About Our Houston Maritime Lawyers

The maritime and admiralty attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have helped victims of maritime accidents, injuries, assaults, and wrongful death for nearly 50 years. Learn more about our firm’s four named partners, who have all been named to Best Lawyers in America©:

  • Charles Lipcon is the founder of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. He has nearly 50 years of experience providing personalized representation to complex maritime law and injury clients. Mr. Lipcon has been AV rated for 26 consecutive years and was named Lawyer of the Year in admiralty and maritime law for 2020.
  • Jason R. Margulies is a University of Miami alumnus who has over 20 years of experience in maritime law. He spearheaded wrongful death litigation in the El Faro cargo ship disaster that killed 33 people in 2015 and has won several multi-million-dollar verdicts for clients. He has received numerous awards and impeccable ratings, including a 10 out of 10 rating from Avvo and an AV Preeminent 5 out of 5 rating.
  • Ricardo V. Alsina has a Martindale-Hubbell rating of AV Preeminent—the highest rating in the industry for legal ability and compliance with the rules of professional ethics. He is a University of Miami alumnus who has been practicing maritime law with our firm for over 16 years. Having spent many years in Argentina, Venezuela, and Thailand, he is uniquely suited to understand the needs of international clients. He also speaks fluent Spanish.
  • Michael A. Winkleman is an established trial lawyer with numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts. Mr. Winkleman is one of the world’s leading commentators on all issues related to maritime law and cruising. He has provided insight and analysis on maritime law for hundreds of national and international news programs, including The Today Show, Inside Edition, 20/20, America Live, and more. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Thomas University School of Law, where he was third in his class.

Including these named partners, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman comprises a team of 12 skilled maritime law attorneys who are admitted to practice in courts all over the country.

Types of Maritime Cases We Handle

We represent victims of offshore accidents around the world. We help both passengers and offshore workers who experience maritime accidents get maximum compensation for their injuries.

Whether on oil rigs or cruise ships, injuries and deaths on the open seas happen far too often.

maritime lawyer houston

If you aren’t sure whether your accident requires a Houston maritime attorney’s assistance, call us for more information. We’ll set up a free consultation and let you know if we can help.

We represent the following victims of maritime accidents.

Cruise Ship Passengers and Crew

Passengers and crew members may envision a cruise ship as a floating paradise, but these boats have a darker side. Unsafe conditions mean many accidents occur on cruise ships, injuring or killing passengers and crew members. We represent clients who have experienced these cruise ship accidents:

  • Slip and falls, which account for nearly 45% of all injuries on cruise ships;
  • Rape and sexual assault due to unsafe conditions;
  • Lack of required safety features;
  • Unsafe shore excursions; and
  • Exposure to known risks, such as viruses aboard the ship.

Additionally, we sue cruise lines for disappearances, overboard accidents, and drowning accidents.

houston maritime attorneys

A passenger or crew member can be injured or killed due to the cruise ship’s negligence. At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we are knowledgeable on cruise ship law because we have fought for nearly 50 years to shape the law. Our lawyers have brought cruise ship lawsuits against every major cruise line, winning hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. Contact us to see if we can help with your case.

Boat, Ferry, and Yacht Crew and Passengers

Many people dream of spending time in the sun aboard a private yacht. Other passengers use ferry boats to avoid Houston’s crowded roadways. Passengers and crew members on board these vessels expect safe travel conditions.
When you board a private boat as a paid passenger, guest, or employee, the boat owner owes you a duty of reasonable care. If the boat owner or operator did not act with reasonable care to prevent your injury, you may be able to sue.

Accidents and injuries that occur aboard private vessels can seem complicated for an inexperienced attorney. Our maritime attorneys in Houston frequently work on these cases. We can explain the laws that govern your case and negotiate for your maximum compensation. If you sustained an injury due to someone’s negligence, you are entitled to seek damages under maritime and admiralty law.

Maritime Workers

Houston is home to thousands of maritime workers, hosting the second largest job market for maritime workers in the nation. Texas has nearly 40,000 maritime workers, who contribute over $7 billion to the economy each year. The Port of Houston is the top container port on the Gulf of Mexico, shipping and receiving nearly 200 million tons of maritime cargo each year.

These statistics show that maritime workers are vital to the Houston economy and the US economy. Yet employers often put maritime workers at risk in unsafe working conditions. Unfortunately, many maritime workers are injured or killed each year due to their employers’ negligent actions.

Our law firm helps the hardworking men and women who put their lives at risk in maritime jobs. If you or a loved one has been injured in an unsafe maritime work environment, contact us for a free consultation.

Oil Rig Workers

Oil rig workers face tremendous health and safety risks inherent to this line of work. These risks include:

  • Working in shifts that include several weeks at sea,
  • Executing physically demanding tasks aboard unsteady structures,
  • Suffering explosions that often occur on rigs, and
  • Inhaling unhealthy levels of fumes and heavy metals.

For these reasons, workers and servicers of oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are covered under admiralty and maritime law. If you are experiencing symptoms of an injury on an oil rig, call Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., immediately. We will help you pursue the medical care and legal action you need.

Waverunner, Jet Ski, and Personal Watercraft Operators and Passengers

A fun weekend aboard personal watercraft can turn deadly without proper precautions. Many boat, jet ski, and waverunner owners do not follow safety guidelines for operating these types of watercraft.

In 2017, there were 4,291 accidents involving recreational boats. These accidents caused 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and approximately $46 million of damage to property. Alcohol was the primary contributing factor in nearly 20% of fatal boat accidents.

Accidents involving jet skis, wave runners, and personal watercraft occur for many reasons. Some of the most common accident causes include:

  • Poor instruction or training,
  • Intoxication,
  • Bad weather conditions,
  • Poorly maintained equipment,
  • Hazardous water conditions, and
  • Excessive speed.

If you were in an accident due to any of these conditions, contact the jet ski accident attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., for legal advice.

Parasailers

Parasailing looks exhilarating, but it can be a dangerous activity. According to the Parasail Safety Council, three to five million people go parasailing each year even though “effectively there are no federal regulations governing parasailing operations, equipment inspection and replacement or standards.” Consequently, parasailing is responsible for more than 500 serious injuries and 80 deaths over the last 30 years.

Parasailing companies should protect their customers by providing safe equipment and thorough instruction and supervision. Parasailing accidents can cause injuries ranging from minor wounds to catastrophic harm requiring intensive surgery. If you experienced a parasailing accident, whether or not you signed a waiver, call us for advice on your legal options.

Guide to Maritime and Admiralty Law

Maritime law, also referred to as admiralty law, concerns activity that takes place on navigable waters such as the ocean. According to the US Department of Transportation, “navigable waterways are those waters of the US that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide shoreward to the mean high water mark, and that are presently used, have been used in the past, or could be susceptible to use for transport of interstate or foreign commerce.”

maritime lawyers in houstonInjuries and incidents on cruise ships, cargo vessels, pleasure craft, jet skis, and other vessels are treated differently than other types of legal injury claims. A special body of laws, conventions, and treaties—collectively called admiralty and maritime law—establish legal rules for claims related to ships, shipping, and offshore work. Maritime law in the US can fall under the jurisdiction of federal law, state law, international treaties with single or multiple nations, or common law.

Our law firm focuses specifically on maritime law. We have won major settlements and verdicts for clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries or the death of a loved one. Depending on where you were injured and your role on the ship, different maritime laws may apply. An experienced maritime lawyer in Houston can evaluate your case and inform you of your legal options. The following maritime laws may apply to your case.

The Jones Act

The Jones Act was enacted in 1920 to protect maritime workers from unsafe environments. The Jones Act offers seamen and certain offshore workers a way to obtain compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.

Under the Jones Act, a “seaman” is defined as a person who works on a ship or vessel such as a cruise ship, towboat, crew boat, fishing boat, offshore oil rig, or dredge. If you have been injured at sea, contact our firm to determine whether you qualify as a Jones Act seaman.

Our firm employs dedicated Jones Act lawyers who fight for injured maritime workers and have published books on the Jones Act that are read all over the world.

The Law of Unseaworthiness

A ship owner has a duty to furnish a seaworthy vessel. If the ship is unseaworthy, the ship owner is liable for personal injury to the crew or passengers. Unseaworthiness can take many forms: an inadequate tool, an incompetent crewmember, or a broken piece of machinery. The doctrine of unseaworthiness is extremely unique and is a form of strict liability. This means that the defendant is automatically liable if the unseaworthiness of the vessel directly causes an injury or death.

The success of these claims relies on the victim’s ability to prove that the vessel was unseaworthy. A law firm that focuses solely on admiralty law like Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., is most capable of proving that the vessel was unseaworthy at the time the accident occurred. Why? Because this is all we do, day in and day out.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that provides compensation for injured maritime workers excluded by the Jones Act, such as shipbuilders and port workers. Employees must experience injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining areas.

Dangerous port and harbor jobs expose workers to risky environments daily, resulting in many workers’ injury or death. An injured worker or family members of a loved one killed on the job should contact an experienced maritime attorney in Houston to explore a lawsuit.

Death on the High Seas Act

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is an awful federal statute that needs to be taken off the books. It works to prevent persons who die on the high seas from obtaining a full financial recovery under the law.

Remarkably, the Act was originally intended to protect the families of individuals whose death at sea occurred as the result of a wrongful or negligent act because there was a gap in the law applicable in such instances. Unfortunately, the act has become little more than a tool for negligent actors to limit their exposure when tragedy strikes.

Having said that, the ship’s location in relation to the US can impact the application of a variety of laws which can dramatically affect the available recovery.

Death within three miles of shore

Generally, states’ wrongful death laws apply if a passenger or a sea worker is killed within three nautical miles of a state shoreline or within US territory waters. These laws are generally far more favorable than the Death on the High Seas Act.
Death more than three miles offshore

Deaths that occur more than three miles from a US shoreline fall under the DOHSA. The Act limits the amount of wrongful death damages that spouses, children, parents, and dependent relatives are able to recover.

Where to Try Your Case in the US

If a case stems from an incident that took place in US navigable waters and involves injury to a seaman, passenger, or vessel, the case will likely be subject to admiralty jurisdiction. If an American citizen became a victim of crime on a vessel on the high seas, this should also fall within admiralty jurisdiction.

Contracts cases that involve agreements related to commerce, navigation, or business are typically subject to admiralty jurisdiction as well. Understanding what jurisdiction your case falls under is important because admiralty laws differ from those governing land-based incidents. Consult with a maritime lawyer in Houston to ensure your case is handled appropriately.

Contact Our Maritime Lawyers in Houston to Discuss Your Maritime Case

If you were injured at sea or experienced the death of a loved one in an offshore accident, contact us for a free consultation. We may be able to help.

Our Houston maritime attorneys know that the Gulf Coast is a major hub for vessels, passengers, and crew members. Our attorneys regularly litigate across the United States and represent American and international clients. If you’re worried about establishing United States jurisdiction, contact us. Our law firm has achieved excellent results bringing maritime cases in US courts.

At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we focus specifically on admiralty and maritime law. We are nationally recognized by maritime law organizations and media outlets for our contributions to the field and successful trial and settlement outcomes.

Contact us for a free consultation. We will listen to your accident experience and advise you of your best legal options to achieve a maximum maritime claim settlement.

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