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With 367 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, Texas is a central location for cargo trade from across the United States and throughout the world. These ports have a massive economic impact, accounting for a total of about 564 million tons of cargo each year and directly generating over 112 thousand maritime jobs, in addition to millions of indirect jobs nationwide.
Employees in these ports and harbors work hard every day to make sure our country is supplied with the goods we need. They also risk serious injury each shift. When a maritime worker suffers a serious offshore injury on the job in Texas, he or she is entitled to financial compensation in either a Jones Act or Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act claim.
With a total of 23 ports in and around the Gulf of Mexico, Texas is a major importer and exporter of cargoes from all over the world. In 2015, about 22 percent of all US port tonnage moved through Texas ports. Some of the busiest ports in the state include:
Port of Corpus Christi
The Port of Corpus Christi ranks #4 in the United States in total tonnage. It handles a variety of cargoes, including break bulk cargo, project cargo, oil and gas, dry bulk, agricultural, refrigerated, and containerized cargo. Wind turbines are another main cargo moving through the port, helping to make Texas the top producer of wind energy in the United States.
The Port is also a major jobs creator, with over 76,000 positions either directly or indirectly generated by port activities. About 13,770 of these jobs are directly involved with maritime activities.
Port of Beaumont
With over 94 million tons passing through in 2013, the Port of Beaumont is one of the busiest ports in the United States. It’s also the busiest processor of US military equipment in the world. Only 42 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico and 15 miles north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Port of Beaumont has access to traded cargoes from across the United States and overseas.
Port of Houston
The Port of Houston handles more foreign tonnage than any other port in the United States. In total, about 37 million tons of cargo move through this port each year, generated approximately $617 billion in economic activity nationwide. 651,524 jobs are generated from activities at Port of Houston terminals, and a total of 2.7 million jobs nationwide are directly or indirectly related to these activities.
Am I Covered Under The Jones Act?
If you’ve recently been injured while working in or near a Texas port, you may be unsure of your legal rights. Seeking financial compensation as an injured maritime or offshore worker is usually more complicated than filing a workers’ compensation claim as a land-based worker because offshore and maritime injuries are governed by a complex set of legal statutes known as maritime law.
If you spend at least 30% of your work time working in the service of a vessel on navigable waters, you’re likely covered under the Jones Act. The Jones Act does provide no-fault compensation for living expenses and medical bills. But claims under this Act differ greatly from a workers’ compensation claim, because negligence is taken into account. If a co-worker, your employer, or the owner of the vessel caused an accident to occur and you were injured as a result, you could have grounds for a lawsuit under the Jones Act.
Maritime employees who primarily work from docks, harbors, piers, or other on-shore settings may instead be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This is more similar to a traditional workers’ compensation claim, however, these claims are made at the federal, rather than state level. Benefits include payments for lost wages, medical bills, and vocational rehabilitation services.
How A Texas Maritime Lawyer Can Help
Don’t worry if you’re unsure which Act applies to you. It’s easy to get confused by the details of these laws, and determining if your work duties qualify for a Jones Act claim can be confusing. However, a lawyer with experience in maritime law can help you better understand your rights, represent you in all court appearances, and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf. In many cases, an effective lawyer can arrive at a settlement and save you the stress of a long and difficult litigation process. To begin exploring your options after an offshore injury in Texas, contact one of our dedicated and experienced maritime injury lawyers today.