Maritime Law or Admiralty Law governs navigation and shipping on most bodies of water. Maritime Law specifically protects the rights of seamen, longshoremen, oil rig workers, cruise ship employees and other people who make their living on the seas.
Maritime jobs such as those related to oil rigs can be dangerous; potential maritime claims include marine law versions of Workers’ Compensation claims (LHWCA) and Unseaworthiness claims. As well as maritime laws and acts such as the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act and the Death on the High Seas Act, maritime workers are also protected by the concept of "Maintenance and Cure". Maritime employees are advised to contact a Jones Act law firm to determine whether they have a claim. Maritime and Admiralty law attorneys are experienced with the following Maritime Acts and Laws:
The LHWCA Act is the statutory Workers’ Compensation scheme that covers certain maritime workers, most dock workers and maritime workers not otherwise covered by the Jones Act.
Admiralty and Maritime Litigation include the following:
State and Federal Maritime JurisdictionThe US Constitution grants original jurisdiction to US federal courts regarding maritime and admiralty issues. That jurisdiction is not exclusive, however: Under the "saving to suitors" clause, most maritime cases can be heard in either state or federal courts.
The following five types of cases can only be brought in federal court:
If a death has occurred more than three nautical miles offshore, the federal Death on the High Seas Act or DOHSA, preempts any state causes of action that a family member of the deceased may attempt to pursue.
Most Maritime personal injury cases, including boating accidents and cruise ship accidents are settled, but many are first litigated in state or federal court. An experienced Maritime Lawyer can advise you regarding where to pursue your claim. In the US federal courts, there is generally no right to a jury trial in Admiralty cases.
Cruise Ship EmployeesIf you work as a cruise ship employee, your legal rights can depend upon the flag of registry of that vessel. For instance, if you are employed by a cruise ship that is a US flag vessel and you are injured on the job, you are protected under US maritime law. And the Jones Act would apply as a means of providing a legal remedy. However, if the ship operates under the flag of a different nation, such as the Bahamas or Panama, you are not protected under US maritime law, regardless of your US citizenship.
Maritime Statute of LimitationsThere is a three-year Statute of Limitations for personal injury and wrongful death cases. Cargo cases must be brought within two years. Most major cruise ship passenger tickets have a one year statute of limitations.
The Jones ActThe Jones Act is a federal law that applies to vessel operators and marine employers whose employees suffer work-related injury or death. Seamen and other maritime workers who are injured while working, and whose injury was caused by the negligence of their employer or coworker, are able to seek compensation for past and future economic and non-economic losses under the Jones Act.
(To be considered a seaman, a worker must typically spend 30 percent or more of his working hours onboard either a specific vessel or a fleet of vessels under common ownership or control.)
Unlike Workers’ Compensation laws, under the Jones Act an employer is only liable if the injured party can prove that the injury was the result of negligence by the vessel's owners, operators or officers or by the employee's coworkers. The Jones Act also covers people who were injured by a defect in the vessel or the vessel's equipment. Further, if an employer provides inadequate medical care, an employee can file a claim under the Jones Act.
An injured person may file a claim under the Jones Act if the injury occurred while working on an offshore rig, workboat, tugboat, barge, tanker or cargo ship, ferry or water taxi, fishing trawler or other vessel.
Maintenance and Cure"Maintenance and Cure” covers seamen who are injured while on a vessel, regardless of fault or negligence. A seaman has the right to maintenance and cure separate from any claim under the Jones Act and is guaranteed, regardless of who is at fault in an injury.
Maintenance means that the employee has a right to a daily allowance to cover food and shelter that the seaman would have received on the vessel if he had not been injured.
Cure means that the employer is obligated to provide the seaman with appropriate medical care, hospitalization and rehabilitation services, until the injured person reaches maximum medical improvement, even if the seaman is unable to return to work.
Unseaworthiness ClaimsUnseaworthiness claims fall under the Jones Act. A seaworthy vessel must be reasonably fit for its intended use, a safe place to work and live, complete with appropriate safety gear and equipment, and safe recreation facilities and a competent crew. If not, an Unseaworthiness Claim can be brought against the vessel’s owner. Such claims can include a co-worker’s negligence, defective equipment, a slippery surface, and worsening of illness because of insufficient medical supplies.
MARITIME LAW EMERGING ISSUES
Jones Act alleging injury or death from dangerous maritime work conditions.
Sars and Vacation Refunds. Join a possible class action against several different cruise ship lines and vacation packages that are allegedly refusing refunds to people from possible Sars infected areas even though the people have a clean bill of health.
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If you or a loved one has suffered damages in a situation covered by maritime law, please click the link below to send your complaint to a lawyer to evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
Updated on Aug-21-13