The award-winning attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. are accomplished maritime lawyers who represent clients in Houston, throughout the United States, and all over the world. Our admiralty and maritime law attorneys have successfully taken on the largest cruise lines and commercial shipping companies in the world and have represented clients in over 3,000 cases. Our maritime lawyers have garnered over $300 million in damages through settlements and jury awards.
Maritime law is a complicated area that only an attorney experienced in handling cases in Houston, Texas should be handling for you, but oftentimes, the victim of a maritime injury may not realize that this is the case until it is too late. Many Houston-area personal injury attorneys are unfamiliar with maritime and admiralty law and may accept a case, thinking that a maritime injury is similar to any other personal injury, or that there may only be slight differences in the litigation process if you suffered an offshore injury, but this is far from the truth. If you were injured on a ship that departed from the ports in or around Houston, Texas, or were injured in an accident offshore from Texas, or even if you live in Texas, you need to work with maritime lawyers experienced in handling Jones Act and offshore personal injury litigation cases that will help you get the compensation and legal support that you deserve.
Award-Winning Maritime Lawyers Handling Cases in Houston
The lawyers in our firm have received many prestigious awards and have been named to several top-attorney lists, including US News & World Report’s “Lawyer of the Year”® and “Best Law Firms”® and all four partners have been named to “Best Lawyers in America”®. It is hard work and dedication to our clients that has brought these numerous accolades to Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. and they’re the reason why our maritime lawyers are the right ones to handle your case.
With over 165 years of combined experience, our maritime attorneys have won multiple landmark cases in state, federal, and international courts; have helped shape the case law that will govern your case; and have repeatedly been called upon to make television appearances on national news shows when there is a public interest in our area of expertise — admiralty/maritime law.
About the Port of Houston
The Port of Houston is one of the largest ports in the United States by waterborne tonnage. While this is largely due to the booming Texas petroleum industry, the Port of Houston also services several major cruise companies, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney. There are over 200 private companies that maintain facilities in the Greater Port of Houston and tens of thousands of employees work out of the port or on ships that are serviced there. While the port does provide tremendous economic value to the area, sea travel and shore activities involve enhanced risks for the dockworkers, crew members, and passengers that utilize the Port of Houston. If you have been involved in an accident at the Houston Port or aboard a vessel that originated from that facility or the surrounding port areas, you may require the services of a Houston maritime attorney to receive full compensation under the applicable law.
Why is Hiring a Maritime Attorney a Good Idea?
Whether you’re injured as a cruise line passenger, a worker on a commercial cargo ship, or even in port, it makes sense for you to hire a maritime lawyer who is familiar with the shipping practices of the Port of Houston as well as the Federal courts with regional jurisdiction. Attorneys who handle cases involving shipping and offshore injuries must be familiar with national and international law, but our maritime law attorneys, having successfully litigated cases in Houston Texas, have a significant advantage over maritime lawyers who are unfamiliar with the area.
Our decorated litigation team of maritime and admiralty law attorneys has represented personal injury clients and maritime workers from the Port of Houston, so we are familiar with both the terrain and the process of filing a claim through the courts. Contact our office to discuss your case with a Houston maritime lawyer immediately. All consultations are free of charge.
Types of Cases Our Houston Maritime Lawyers Handle
If you have been injured while working or traveling offshore, you may already be aware of the fact that your injury falls under maritime law. We are a full-service maritime law firm representing Houston clients in all manners of accidents and wrongful death claims. The following is a list of the types of claims that our firm handles.
Cruise Ship Passenger Accidents
In addition to the Port of Houston, our admiralty law firm covers the Port of Galveston and other Texas ports. The Port of Galveston is just a 45-minute ride from Houston’s center and is the location where many cruise lines port. While there are no major cruise liners that typically port in Houston, many Houston residents travel to other ports of call, including Galveston, to vacation on cruise ships. In 2018, 268 cruises embarked, disembarked, or ported in Galveston carrying close to two million passengers. The majority of these ships belong to Royal Caribbean, Disney, and Carnival, which sail regularly from the port.
Types of cruise ship accidents our Houston maritime lawyers handle include:
- Cruise Ship Slip & Fall
- Cruise Ship Sexual Assault and Rape
- Shore Excursions
- Crewmember and Seafarer Accidents
- Cruise Ship Pool Drowning
- Cruise Ship Asbestos
- Improper Medical Care Onboard
- Cruise Passenger Overboard and Disappearance Cases
- Cruise Ship Class Action Lawsuits
If an accident occurs aboard the cruise ship, it’s much more convenient to work with maritime lawyers who are familiar with the court systems in and near Houston.
Cruise Ship Rape and Sexual Assault
Unfortunately, sexual assault and rape do frequently occur on cruise ships. Under the Cruise Vessel and Safety Act (CVSSA), cruise ships must report incidents of crimes to the federal government. In just the third quarter of 2019, the cruise industry reported 35 incidents of sexual assault. 30 of those occurred on ships belonging to cruise lines that port in Houston, Texas. While rape and sexual assaults are criminal acts that can lead to the incarceration of the offender, the cruise line also has an obligation to reasonably safeguard their crew and passengers against these known crimes. If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault aboard a cruise vessel, you may be entitled to compensation for damages from the cruise company. Contact our maritime attorneys to discuss your case. We have handled over 150 cruise ship rape and sexual assault cases, and we have worked tirelessly to favorably shape the applicable law.
Seafarer and Crewmember Accidents
As anyone who works aboard vessels is aware, there are many hazards at sea. Under the Jones Act, an employee who works aboard a vessel can bring a lawsuit against their employer for injuries that occur on the job. But the Jones Act is not exclusive to offshore injuries. Maritime workers can also sue if their injuries occur while the vessel is ported. If you’ve been injured while at sea for work, you need a personal injury lawyer who handles Jones Act injuries. Our law practice can assist.
Anyone who works in an offshore capacity is familiar with how dangerous it can be. Whether you work on a commercial cargo ship, a cruise liner, or on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, your workplace is hazardous. There are numerous specific statutes and unique case law that applies to maritime workers being injured while in an offshore capacity. Many of these rules of law also apply to offshore guests. If you’ve been injured offshore, contact the personal injury and maritime litigation lawyers of Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A.
Our Firm Recovered $25.8 million for Seaman Burn Injuries in Houston, Texas
Our firm is responsible for one of the largest seaman verdicts in the history of maritime law in Houston, or for that matter the world. Our client worked as an oiler and sustained second-degree and third-degree burns over 80% of his body when oil from a poorly-maintained and malfunctioning engine spilled oil all over him and ignited. The devastating effects of the accident included severe scarring, loss of the use of both hands, impaired vision and hearing, sexual dysfunction, and totally disabling psychiatric damage. Prior to trial, our client had been paid $190,000 for medical expenses. Under maritime law, the plaintiff alleged that the condition of the engine rendered the ship unseaworthy. Our attorneys were able to show that on the prior voyage, the engine had broken down and caught fire two times, so it was clear that the defendant knew there was an issue with the machinery. The ship’s captain, knowing that the engine was a danger, ordered the ship to set sail before replacement parts could arrive and be installed.
As part of their defense strategy, the defendant claimed that because the plaintiff was a Mexican national and the ship’s registry and ownership were in Grand Cayman, the U.S. court had no jurisdiction. Our attorneys were able to show that the vessel regularly ported in Houston and paid employees through a Houston bank. Additionally, the majority of shares were held by U.S. residents. We gathered evidence of the vessel’s unseaworthiness and defended against an effort to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
By proving our case, our client was awarded $25,843,903 by the US. District Court, S.D. Texas.
Maritime and Admiralty Law
Many people are confused about the difference between admiralty law and maritime law. While the two areas of the law are closely related and often used interchangeably, they have slightly different origins. Admiralty law derives its origins from Great Britain relating to shipping within the once-expansive empire. Maritime law, on the other hand, was a more general term related to sea travel. Today the terms are indistinguishable for all intents and purposes.
Determining Jurisdiction in Admiralty-Maritime Cases
Legal jurisdiction in maritime cases can be complicated. There are many different factors that can affect a Houston maritime injury case. To begin with, the ship is under the jurisdiction of its country of origin. In addition, the location of the ship at the time of the maritime injury can affect the case. Furthermore, the victim and the culpable parties may be from different locations. For example, if you’re a Houston resident who booked passage on a commercial cruise liner registered in Malta but shipping out from another U.S. port, and you sustained a maritime injury either on the high seas or at another port of call, you might not have any idea where to begin your legal claim. This could also apply to maritime workers who claim residency in Houston but work on a commercial ship registered in the Bahamas. A maritime law attorney can parse through the intersecting multiple jurisdictions and determine where maritime law dictates that your case should be filed. This is what we do every single day.
For U.S. cases, the Constitution grants the federal courts to try maritime law cases. While many factors can affect the jurisdiction of a maritime injury or another type of case, a maritime law case falling under the jurisdiction of the United States would be filed in the regional U.S. District Court.
Maritime Laws that Apply to Accidents at Sea
Numerous federal and international laws affect offshore accidents and other personal injury cases that occur at sea.
While there is no way to list all of the statutes that would affect offshore injury litigation, the following are some of the more widely recognized statutes that affect maritime workers, sea travellers, and anyone else who has been injured offshore.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal statute that regulates maritime commerce and all situations that fall under that umbrella, including offshore injuries sustained by employees of commercial ships. Working with an attorney who is well-versed and practiced in the Jones Act is an important step to take early in your case since a personal injury lawyer who does not understand maritime law will have a hard time navigating the complexities of this Act and all other steps in the process.
Death on High Seas Act
If you have lost a loved one in an avoidable offshore accident, then it is likely that the wrongful death case that follows will fall under the Death on the High Seas Act, an Act that was established in 1920 to protect the families of those who were killed in maritime accidents while in the active line of duty. Wrongful death cases are complicated in general, but as with all other maritime injuries it is important that you work with an attorney who is practiced in this Act to ensure that they are able to build a comprehensive, aggressive case on your behalf, and on the behalf of the other dependants left behind after this tragic situation.
The Law of Unseaworthiness
The Law or Doctrine of Unseaworthiness sets forth the requirement that shipowners must provide a seaworthy vessel and all accessories and tools necessary for safe work and usage on the vehicle. This doctrine only applies to crewmembers, not passengers. An injury sustained due an unseaworthy vessel exposes the shipowner to a maritime personal injury lawsuit, all of which are best performed by Houston maritime attorneys who have been through this process before. Your injuries must be taken seriously, and when you are represented by attorneys who understand maritime law, you can be confident that you will have the best chance at obtaining the maximum compensation available under the law.
Frequently Asked Questions About Houston Maritime Law
The following are just a few of the common questions that we are happy to answer about maritime law in Houston, Texas. When you are speaking with an attorney, maritime-related questions should be the focus of your initial consultation to be certain that they know what they are talking about and how to help you through this complex and unique process. Working with one of our maritime lawyers is one of the best ways that you can be certain to have chosen the right attorney to guide you through the litigation process and to get fully and fairly compensated for your personal injuries.
Who do you represent in Houston, Texas?
What should I do if I’ve been injured on a cruise originating from Houston?
While it’s essential that you receive medical attention for any injuries that you sustain, you need to be careful about discussing the accident with any representative from the cruise line before speaking with a Houston maritime lawyer. The cruise company and its employees are focused almost solely on protecting their own interests — particularly by diminishing their own liability for the case. Any statements that you make about how the accident happened or your own involvement in the moments leading to it will be picked apart and used by the cruise company to blame you for the incident.Contact Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. as soon as possible so that you can be connected with a maritime attorney handling cases in Houston from the start. The sooner that there is a maritime injury attorney speaking directly with the cruise ship representatives, even while you are still offshore, the more opportunities they will have to avoid having your case compromised by the cruise company.
How do I pay for a Houston maritime attorney?
Our firm works on contingency fees, which means that you will not pay anything unless we win. If we are successful, our fees are a percentage of the total settlement.If you have been injured offshore, it is important that you hire a maritime lawyer who can help you through the litigation process and to get the money that you rightfully deserve. Many times, victims of Houston maritime accidents believe that they will be unable to afford an attorney after they have been injured, but firm’s like ours specialize in handling these types of matters and it would be our pleasure to discuss further in a free consultation.
Will the Jones Act Cover my Accident?
The Jones Act was enacted in 1920 to protect maritime workers from unsafe environments. The Jones Act offers seamen and certain offshore workers in 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, 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 studied all over the world.
If I’m injured offshore or in the Port of Houston, where do I have to file my injury claim?
After being injured offshore, it can be very confusing to determine where you will need to file a claim for your injuries. If you were injured in the Port of Houston, on a ship that ports in Houston or you’re a resident of Houston, a maritime law firm like Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. that handles cases in Houston can file your claim in the court of jurisdiction on your behalf. So, for instance, even if your cruise ticket contract sets out a different location for filing your attorney can file for you in Houston, Miami, or wherever is required.If you have been injured as a crewmember protected under the Jones Act, then you will likely need to file a claim in the jurisdiction that your injury occurred in, or possibly where your employment contract requires. However, this quickly gets complicated when you are injured in international waters or under the jurisdiction of a foreign government, which is why it is so important that you contact our maritime firm as quickly as possible to determine the immediate steps necessary to build a case that will give you the best chances of a fair settlement or award.
What do I do if I have a case in the U.S., but not in Houston?
If a case stems from an incident that took place in U.S. 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 alsofall within admiralty jurisdiction. Contract 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. Our attorneys routinely handle cases across the U.S. and worldwide, so wherever your case may need to be filed, chances are, we can help.
How long do I have from the date of my accident or incident to file my claim?
With most crewmembers claims, there is a 3 year statute of limitations. This means you must file the case within 3 years of the date of the injury or your case will be dismissed. There are a few exceptions to this time limit but they are very narrow.If you have been injured as a cruise ship passenger, then according to the terms of the cruise passenger ticket contract you will have a shortened one-year statute of limitations. In addition to this shortened time frame to file your case, you also need to provide notice to the cruise company within six months of the incident. It is precisely this type of unique shortened time requirement that shows why you must contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. We will protect your rights and give you the best shot at obtaining the maximum compensation available.
Does it matter if I live outside the country?
If you live outside of the country that you are filing your injury claim in, such as if you have filed an injury claim against a cruise ship in Miami but live somewhere other than the United States, it may feel like a bit of a complication for your case, but the maritime injury team at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is experienced in all types of maritime cases that involve foreign victims. We will work with you in order to give you a better understanding of how these cases work, and the way that we will be able to fight for justice on your behalf after your injury, regardless of your home country or where you reside.In fact, a significant number of our clients are from all over the world. We pride ourselves on helping those injured at sea, no matter where they are from!
About Our Team of Maritime Lawyers
These are the named partners of our maritime and admiralty law firm. Each of them has extensive legal experience, numerous successful cases, and has been named to Best Lawyers in America ®.
Charles R. Lipcon – Founding partner Charles Lipcon established our prestigious maritime and admiralty law firm in 1971.
He is one of the most renowned maritime and admiralty law attorneys currently practicing. Known for litigating ground-breaking case law, Mr. Lipcon has received many coveted awards:
- “Lawyer of the Year” ® in Admiralty and Maritime by US News & World Report
- Best Lawyers in America ®
- The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers®
In addition to these and other awards, Mr. Lipcon is the author of several books, including “Unsafe on the High Seas” – which was in the top 30 travel books on Amazon. He is responsible for over a dozen landmark cases that have helped shape maritime law. Learn more about attorney Lipcon here.
Jason R. Margulies – Firm partner Jason Margulies has been part of this practice for almost 30 years. Mr. Margulies is responsible for handling more El Faro cases than Houston maritime lawyers — resolving them collectively for over $10 million.
Mr. Margulies has handled more than 150 cruise ship sexual assault cases — placing him among the most experienced attorneys in the nation for cruise ship sexual assaults. Mr. Margulies is named to “Best Lawyers in America” ® and his firm is named to “Best Law Firms” by US News & World Report. Learn more about attorney Margulies here.
Michael A. Winkleman – Rounding out our list of named partners, attorney Michael Winkleman has been practicing maritime law for over 15 years. He quickly earned a reputation for his litigation and courtroom skills, winning multiple multi-million-dollar personal injury cases, maritime injury cases, Jones Act cases, and other claims that fall under maritime law.
He also has one of the most recognizable faces in all of maritime law because he has appeared literally hundreds of times on every major television network as an expert in maritime law. Learn more about attorney Winkleman here.
Whether you’ve been injured in an offshore accident, have a personal injury claim from a cruise, a Jones Act claim, an offshore wrongful death, or another type of claim that falls under maritime law, our attorneys have the skill, experience, and legal knowledge to help you obtain the maximum financial recovery.
Contact Our Esteemed Maritime Law Firm Today
Whether you have suffered an injury as a worker protected by the Jones Act, if you have been injured as a passenger on a cruise ship, or if you have suffered any other offshore injury that requires the support of a Houston maritime attorney, contact the award-winning team at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. at 877-233-1238 for a free case evaluation.