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Maritime Accidents Archives

Two Incidents Halt Operations on the Hebron Offshore Platform

On June 3, 2017, it was announced that the sizeable Herbon oil platform started its two week journey from Bull Arm, St. John's, to the Grand Banks. Eight tow vessels were used to carry the massive platform to its destination.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency Withdraws Jones Act Proposal

Last month the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) announced that it will suspend and reconsider a set of regulatory amendments to the Jones Act that were proposed by the Obama administration.

Alaska Oil Company Fined with Largest Jones Act Penalty in History of the Act

In 2011, Furie Operating Alaska, an Alaskan oil and gas company, transported the Spartan 151 jack-up drill rig from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska using a foreign-flagged vessel. The company agreed to pay a record $10,000,000 fine for failing to get pre-approval from the U.S. government to use a foreign-flagged vessel for the transport.

In Landmark Decision, Supreme Court of Washington Holds that Jones Act Seamen Can Recover Punitive Damages for Vessel Unseaworthiness

On March 9, 2017, the Supreme Court of Washington held that a Jones Act seaman could recover punitive damages in an unseaworthiness claim. At least within the state of Washington, this ruling clarified previous confusion regarding applicability of common law damages for unseaworthiness claims. The case involved a plaintiff who lost two of his fingers while moving fish below deck. A hatch with a broken handle could not be closed in time and severed the plaintiff's fingers. The plaintiff alleged that the vessel operators knew about the broken handle but failed to repair it.

When Longshoremen and Stevedores Bring Suit: Vessel Duties Under the LHWCA

Like most maritime accident claims, injuries to longshoremen and stevedores can involve a complex web of state and federal laws. The Longshore and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act (LHWCA) and case law interpreting the LHWCA outline three duties that vessel owners and operators owe to longshoremen and stevedores. First, the vessel owner and operator have a turnover duty. That duty requires that owners and operators turn their vessel over to the longshoremen and stevedores without hidden dangers. This duty does not require that ship owners and operators remedy open and obvious conditions or easily-anticipated conditions. The vessel's turnover duty is one of the most litigated duties that vessel owners and operators owe to longshoremen and stevedores.

Basics of Admiralty Limitation on Liability Actions

Unlike typical personal injury lawsuits, claims involving ships and vessels may be subject to special rules that can limit the damages an injured party is entitled to receive following a lawsuit. While most lawsuits seek recovery for the entirety of medical and property damages incurred by an injured individual, these admiralty actions, known as Limitation Actions, can reduce or even eliminate the amount of money available to be awarded.

Fire Burns on Oil Platform Off the Coast of Louisiana

Yesterday, four oil platform workers jumped off an oil production platform off the coast of Louisiana into the Gulf of Mexico in an attempt to flee an early morning fire that threatened to cause serious bodily injury. Luckily, the workers were quickly recovered from the water by a responding vessel. No injuries have been reported thus far, but it remains to be seen if these workers suffered any internal injuries from smoke inhalation or from the trauma of jumping into the water.

Two Crewmembers Lost at Sea in Exito Sinking

The United States Coast Guard called off the search for two missing crewmembers of the fishing vessel Exito in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, following several days of intense search operations involving multiple Coast Guard and good Samaritan vessels and aircraft. The missing crewmembers abandoned ship after the vessel began taking on water for an undetermined cause. The Exito was one of 25 vessels selected in 2004 for a $97 million federal buyout. As a part of the deal, the Exito was retired and barred from commercial fishing anywhere in the world. At the time of its sinking, the Exito was engaged in cargo or freight purposes. Three crewmembers were luckily rescued, but the two missing individuals are presumed lost at sea.

Fifth Circuit Rules on Applicability of the "Collateral Source Rule" for Medical Benefits Paid Under a Workers' Compensation Insurance Policy Required by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the "collateral source rule," which prevents a defendant from reducing his liability by the amount a plaintiff recovers from independent sources such as health insurance, does not apply when the defendant's workers' compensation insurance carrier pays benefits pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). Under the court's ruling, written off portions of billed medical expenses are not recoverable when the remaining portion of the billed medical expenses were paid through LHWCA workers' compensation insurance.

"Advances" from Employers of Injured Jones Act Seamen

When a seaman is hurt at work, many employers seek to avoid responsibility by paying "advances" while the seaman is recovering and undergoing medical treatment. By law, the employer of an injured Jones Act seaman is required to pay that seamen maintenance and cure benefits. At the end of a case, employers are not permitted reimbursement for proper maintenance and cure benefits. However, if an employer characterizes payments as "advances," then the company can try to get repaid that money out of any settlement or amount a jury may award at trial.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

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  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

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    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

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