Injured Workers and The Jones Act

Working at sea can be rough and dangerous work regardless if you are a crewman on a commercial fishing vessel or a merchant sailor. Not only is the work strenuous, but these workers are putting themselves in harm’s way far away from hospitals and all but the more basic medical care. Because of this extra degree of peril, the U.S. government gives such workers extra protection for themselves and their families should they be injured out at sea due to a negligent act. This extra protection is outlined in the Jones Act.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act, more formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, allows for seamen to collect compensation for medical expenses and lost wages as well as sue for damages if they are injured at sea due to the negligence of the ship’s owner, captain of the ship or other workers on the vessel. This act applies to vessels owned by U.S.-based companies as well as those that call at U.S. ports or sail in U.S. waters. These rights are not offered under common international maritime law.

An additional provision of the Jones Act is that the employer must provide “maintenance and cure” while a worker is recovering from an “at sea” injury. This means the employer must offer medical support and pay the person’s daily expenses while they are recovering from their injury.

A worker needs to devote at least 30 percent of their working time at sea to qualify for protection under the Jones Act.

What to do if you have a maritime personal injury

If you or someone you care about has been injured at sea, you should consult with a Houston board certified personal injury lawyer who specializes in maritime injuries dealing with the Jones Act to help you get the compensation you and your family deserve. The consequences are too important to rely on the compassion of your employer and their insurance company. Besides, why should they be the only ones with a lawyer advising them?

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of July 29, 2015

U.S. Coast Guard Boat

U.S. Coast Guard Boat

Today’s story will discuss the drowning of a father and son Wednesday morning near Freeport, TX.

Phillip Orr, 52, and his son Brandon Orr, 28, cast off for a day of fishing Wednesday morning never expecting fate had a different plan in store for them.  The U.S. Coast Guard and found the Orr’s fishing boat spinning in circles without anyone at the controls.  Brandon’s body was found about one mile away from the fishing boat while Phillip‘s body was discovered close by several hours later.   Both the Brazoria County Rescue Crews and the Texas Parks Wildlife Department assisted in the search for the bodies.  The U.S. Coast Guard continues their investigation into the potential causes of this tragic loss.  Specifically, they are looking into the meaning of the spinning boat.  After someone drowns in or near the Houston area, many complicated legal questions will need to be answered.  The grieving family of the victim who could be a spouse, children, and /or parents of the deceased, will need the proper guidance from a qualified Houston personal injury lawyer specializing in drownings.  The proper investigation and documentation of damages are essential to the development of the case to identify and obtain the just compensation from any and all potentially negligent parties.

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of July 27, 2015

Overturned Vehicle

Overturned Vehicle on Southwest Freeway

Today’s stories will touch on several serious auto accidents occurring over the weekend in Houston, TX.

According to eyewitnesses, a pick-up failed to yield the right of way at the red-light intersection of Hamilton and Pierce resulting in a collision with another vehicle driven by Alana Perez.  The pick-up was traveling at a high rate of speed causing it to crash through a fence prior to flipping over and dropping onto the Southwest Freeway.  Five people were trapped inside the pick-up before emergency personnel rescued them with the Jaws of Life.  Although the impact was severe, the victims initially reported minor injuries.

Later on Sunday evening, an alleged 21-year-old drunk driver caused a dramatic head-on collision in West Houston.  Per multiple witnesses, the alleged intoxicated driver was weaving in and out of traffic on Westheimer at Windchase before losing control and veering over a median and into oncoming traffic near Highway 6.  Life Flight transported the alleged inebriated driver to Memorial Hermann Hospital while several victims in the other vehicle sought medical attention at a local hospital.

Whether you are an innocent passenger in a vehicle who causes a major collision or have an unfortunate encounter with a potential drunk driver in the Houston area, you have options.  Your rights need to be protected from aggressive insurance adjusters, who’s only concern is their company’s bottom line.  Contact a skilled board certified personal injury lawyer who can even the scales against the insurance adjuster with his/her experience, help explain the process and make certain you are “made whole.”

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of July 21, 2015

Today’s story covers a single vehicle auto accident fatality occurring Monday evening in Houston, TX.

A 68-year-old man was traveling southbound on the 15800 block of the Eastex Freeway when he lost control of his vehicle veering off the main lanes onto the service road and into an empty field, where the victim passed away.  According to the Houston Police Department, a medical emergency may be the cause of this incident.  Investigators continue searching for any additional potential leads, yet believe the pending autopsy may shed some light on this case.

When someone passes away under mysterious facts or anything other than natural causes in the Houston area, it is important someone consult with a board certified personal injury attorney to discuss the potential legal options.  It is important the facts of the case be discovered and established early to ensure witness do not forget important details, and nothing becomes lost.  Many times, it is these hidden facts that are exposed through details investigation can easily transform a case from a simple case of natural death into a complex products liability case or a case against a negligent maintenance provider.

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The Dangers of Summer Drownings

drowning pool

Approximately 10 people die every day from unintentional, non-boat-related drownings. That’s 3,533 per year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). About 20 percent of those people are children under the age of 14, and for every death, five more children are treated at U.S. emergency rooms for submersion injuries. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States. Clearly, it’s an issue that needs our attention.

Drownings in America: the Facts

According to the CDC, some people are much more likely to drown than others, and the number may surprise you.

  • Eighty percent of American drowning victims are male.
  • Children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rate, with home swimming pools being the most common location of the accidents.
  • African-Americans are more likely to be involved in a fatal drowning than Caucasians. The variance is greatest in children ages 5-14.

Preventing Drownings

Many things can be done to help prevent drownings. Making sure that all children learn to swim at an early age is important, although it is never too late for older children and adults to learn. Other steps include:

  • Enclosing home swimming pools with a fence — A four-sided fence that separates the pool from the house reduces the incidence of drowning accidents by 83 percent when compared with a three-sided fence (that only encloses the entire lot.)
  • Wearing life jackets in natural waters — Although most drownings involving small children occur in home swimming pools, the number of accidents in natural waters like rivers, streams and lakes increase with age. The majority of these accidents (88 percent) involve people who were not wearing life jackets.
  • Reducing alcohol use around water — Alcohol is a factor in up to 70 percent of drownings involving adolescents and adults.

After a drowning accident, it is no time to go it alone. You need an experienced trial lawyer can help determine your best legal options.

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of July 11, 2015

drunk driving

KHOU — Fountain View

Today’s story will discuss a fatal drunk driving related accident in west Houston.

A 33-year-old man is dead after a terrible collision between two black Honda Accords during the early morning hours of Saturday.  The incident occurred at the intersection of the northbound service road of the Southwest Freeway and Fountain View.  According to authorities, both drivers ran red lights leading to the severe impacts, yet one of the drivers was under the influence of alcohol.  An ambulance transported the surviving driver to a local hospital.  The surviving driver may now face intoxicated manslaughter charges for his role in this tragic accident.

After someone dies in a drunk driving collision in Houston, the family of the victim, whether it be the wife, the children or the parents, need to make crucial decisions regarding the next step.  Many times, the situation can be a bit too much to bare even for the best-prepared individuals.  It is important the family speak with a knowledgeable trial attorney specializing in drunk driving cases to thoroughly discuss legal options.

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of July 9, 2015

A man on foot was killed by a car on Wednesday night. Durell Taylor ran into the street because a man with an assault rifle started chasing him while he was getting gas on Cullen near Washington. Taylor was hit by a car and then shot by the gunman. The gunman got away in a gold Chevy Impala.

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of July 3, 2015

Today’s stories will cover a drowning and a bicycle accident.

Rudy Ramirez, a 54-year-old from Rosharon, Texas, drowned near East Beach in Galveston Friday afternoon.  According to authorities, Ramirez was in the waist-high water with family members when he went missing.  Ramirez was not missing for too long before his party noticed him missing.  Unfortunately, Ramirez’s body was located about 1 hour later in a surrounding vicinity.  It is unknown what caused the drowning as he did not have any reported medical conditions and was a good swimmer.

A man on a bicycle was struck by a MetroLift bus late Thursday evening.  According to authorities, the incident occurred on North Wayside Drive near Ley Road in northeast Houston.  Although the man refused for emergency transportation to a local hospital, an investigation continues to determine the cause of the impact.

Both of these stories speak to the fact that bad things happen to good people all the time in Houston.  When they do, injury victims need a qualified trial lawyer in their corner who can provide the necessary guidance and answers to those difficult questions injury victims and their loved ones now face.

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of July 1, 2015

A driver is dead after a collision with an 18-wheeler Tuesday morning in the Katy area.  According to the authorities, a driver was traveling southbound on FM 1463 near Kingsland Road when an 18-wheeler attempted to pull out from a private drive leaving a truck yard.  The driver did not have enough time to avoid impacting the side of the 18-wheeler.  The driver submarined his vehicle under the big rig’s trailer and died on impact per investigators.  The tragic incident is still under investigation to determine the potential contributing factors in this sad accident.

One of the most dangerous scenarios for any driver out on the open road occurs when a vehicle unexpectedly veers into your lane of traffic at the last minute.  For example, who would expect an 18-wheeler on a private drive attempting to enter or merge onto a main road to fail to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic?  Sure, some of the service roads out in the rural parts of Katy are narrow with limited lighting.  Some even have sporadic businesses littered along the service roads with a high number of slow moving dump trucks and heavy machinery.

In this situation, friends and loved ones of the victim may have more questions than answers.  It is essential someone consult with a knowledgeable Houston trial lawyer who can obtain those elusive answers.  Through a proper investigation, the lawyer and his/her team of investigators may document and establish liability on those negligent parties.  Quick action is necessary to obtain black box data from the 18-wheeler’s computer before it is accidentally “lost” or someone places the required reflective tape along the sides of the trailer.  Someone needs to ask those important questions.  Being fully conscious of the high volume of slow moving traffic their business requires, should the truck yard have modified their access to the main road to increase the safety of their truck drivers and innocent drivers on the main road alike?  Many times, it is what you do not know that must be done that can cost you so dearly.

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Texas Accidents In The News: Day of June 30, 2015

Today’s story will discuss a recent fatality resulting from an auto-pedestrian collision.

As a pedestrian in Texas, you do not need to go looking for trouble; it may just come find you due to the high volume of vehicles.  This is the case with Edson Alaniz Manzano, a 20-year-old who was operating a weed eater along the side of Highway 146 near FM 646 and was struck by a tractor trailer in Bacliff on Tuesday morning.  According to local authorities, several eyewitnesses noticed the tractor trailer veered off the roadway and drove into a ditch killing Manzano.  Although intoxication was ruled out, investigators are looking into a potential link to a medical condition of the big rig driver who hails from Kentucky.  Manzano worked for a local landscaping company named BIO Landscape and Maintenance. 

After a traumatic situation such as the one described above, the some people would not know what to do next.  Some simply do exactly what the company’s safety person instructs them to do.  When faced with a complex situation, victims and loved ones alike should consult with an experienced Houston accident lawyer.  By doing so, the victim or surviving relatives can understand all the legal options and make an informed decision. The lawyer and his/her team of investigators should be able to answer the following questions through proper investigation: did the big rig have liability insurance?  Did the big rig have a defective part or did it have faulty maintenance?  Does the employer BIO Landscaping and Maintenance subscribe to workers compensation or not?  So many questions. So little time.

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