About Maritime Law

Morrow & Sheppard are privileged to assist seamen, crewmen, and passengers who are injured offshore, on the high seas, or on navigable waterways.

Please click here for a free, confidential consultation with a Houston maritime lawyer to discuss your legal rights before they are jeopardized by a corporation, employer, or insurance company.

Jones Act & Maritime Law Questions?

Please click here for answers to common questions regarding the Jones Act, maritime law, and Death on the High Seas Act.

History of Maritime Law

For centuries, injured maritime workers have been entitled to bring claims against the vessel for unseaworthiness. This right dates back to marine insurance, cargo losses, and suits for wages when crew were forced to abandon ship.

As the United States Supreme Court stated in the classic 1903 decision The Osceola, “the vessel and her owner are . . . liable . . . for injuries received by a seaman in consequence of unseaworthiness of the ship, or a failure to supply and keep in order the proper appliances appurtenant to the ship.”

The right of sailors, crew, and offshore workers to bring unseaworthiness claims remains to this day.


A claim of unseaworthiness typically involves a claim that a vessel—which may include a variety of things from a ship to an offshore oil rig—had a defective condition, equipment, or appurtenances that caused or contributed to an injury.

The duty to provide a seaworthy vessel extends to the ship’s hull, cargo handling and machinery, hand tools, ropes and tackles, food and water, and all types of other equipment on board.

Put another way, unseaworthiness involves a condition that renders a vessel not reasonably fit for its intended use. It does not matter whether the condition was brought about by a third party, the ship’s crew, or even the injured person’s fellow employees.

Examples of Unseaworthy Conditions

There are countless examples of things that can render a vessel unseaworthy, but a few examples include:

  • Defective equipment or tools
  • Failure to provide safe ingress and egress from the vessel
  • Slippery decks, stairs or other surfaces
  • Incompetent crew
  • Inadequate supplies
  • Improper or dangerous method of working or operating
  • Careless handling of cargo
  • Improper storage of cargo
  • Inadequate safety equipment
  • Improperly constructed or damaged ladders, scaffolds, catwalks, or guard rails
  • Poor lighting
  • Stuck doors
  • A boom, crane, winch, sling or other hoisting equipment that fails or is misused

To learn more about what is required to prove unseaworthiness, please click here, or better yet, please contact our Houston law firm for a free, confidential consultation.

Bringing A Maritime Law Claim

Investigating and bringing a maritime law claim involves complicated legal issues and analysis. If you or a loved one has been injured while working offshore or on a vessel or ship, it is important that you hire an experienced Houston maritime attorney.

Morrow & Sheppard have unparalleled experience, both as partners at prestigious firms handling maritime cases for corporations, and now as trial attorneys representing the injured.

We also have membership and access to resources of the Maritime Law Association of the United States, arguably the most prestigious maritime law and Jones Act organization in the country.

Please contact us now for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

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