Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is the body of laws that govern commercial activity, navigation, shipping, towage, piracy, and recreational boating on both domestic and international waterways. It includes “navigable” waters such as rivers and canals, whether created naturally or by humans. Its scope of coverage includes contracts relating to maritime operations, such as maritime liens and shipping insurance contracts.
The legislation also ensures that marine employees’ rights are protected and that they are financially compensated for any injuries or illnesses sustained on the job while working at sea. Maritime law may contain several complexities. It is a specialized branch of the law that differs significantly from other areas of personal injury law, necessitating a unique set of knowledge and abilities.
Who Controls Maritime Law?
Understanding maritime and admiralty jurisdiction can be difficult at times. Historically, only the Supreme Court of the United States could hear admiralty cases under the provisions of the United States Constitution. Some maritime cases, however, may be heard in both federal and state courts beginning this year.
Exclusive American tidal waters, which were previously subject to maritime jurisdiction in the United States, have been expanded to include all waterways navigable within the country for international or intrastate trade. This suggests that maritime jurisdiction extends to a wide range of admiralty issues, including those that do not directly relate to interstate commerce, such as recreational boating.
When Does Maritime Law Apply?
If something happens on a navigable waterway, it will likely end up in a maritime or admiralty court. If an inland waterway supports marine trade, connects at least two states, or empties into the ocean, then it is likely to be considered navigable.
This means that anything that happens on the Ohio River, the Mississippi River, or the Gulf of Mexico is probably subject to maritime law.
Who Is Legally Responsible for Injuries Under General Maritime Law?
The only people that may be held accountable for marine injuries are employers as well as owners of vessels, however, there are other potential defendants. You may also have the right to seek compensation for your losses from a third party if that entity was responsible for those losses in whole or in part. For instance, based on the circumstances of your situation, you may be able to file a Jones Act negligence claim against third parties, including the following:
- Companies specializing in upkeep and repairs
- Equipment dealers or suppliers
- Suppliers of machinery and products used
The Jones Act Claims
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that was enacted in 1920. It was established to provide additional rights under maritime law to sailors who spend at least 30% of their time on active duty aboard a marine vessel. The term “vessel” refers to a wide range of watercraft, including, but not limited to, barges, tugboats, crew boats, riverboat casinos, and many others.
When a seaman is injured on the job as a result of their maritime employer’s negligence, he or she may file a claim for damages against that employer under the Jones Act. The Jones Act frequently extends its protections to those whose jobs involve some aspect of boat operation. Dock workers, maintenance personnel, and freight loaders may fall into this category.
Maritime Claims Process and Jones Act Claims Process
Maritime employees, generally, have the right to certain legal protections and benefits under federal statutes like the Jones Act. Such laws are put in place to protect injured maritime workers from certain liabilities and provide workers’ compensation benefits to them. An injured worker is also allowed to seek compensation for their injuries as well as losses through these laws, which may include workers’ compensation claims to replace lost earnings and ongoing medical bills.
If marine worker has an injury while doing their job duties, they can file a personal injury claim following the Jones Act. This claim grants injured employees the ability to sue their employers for compensation in cases where the injuries happened as a result of the employer’s negligence.
Injured maritime employees may be able to get workers’ compensation under the Jones Act. Furthermore, their employees may be covered for any future medical expenses. Injured seamen who are not protected by the Jones Act are eligible for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which include compensation for lost wages and medical expenses.
What Qualifies as “Negligence” Under the Jones Act Lawsuit?
Employers in the marine industry are obligated to provide a reasonably safe working environment for their employees and use “ordinary care” to keep their vessels seaworthy following the Jones Act. If you want to file a Jones Act claim and be successful, you will have to demonstrate that your employer breached this responsibility in some way.
The Jones Act may have jurisdiction over some marine mishaps that are caused by a variety of factors, including faulty equipment, insufficient training, infractions of the rules governing safety, and the failure to warn the crew of potentially hazardous situations. The Jones Act only applies to injuries that occur aboard ships.
In situations involving various forms of carelessness, you will need to demonstrate that the negligent actions of the person at fault played a major part in bringing about the damage. You simply need to establish that your employer’s carelessness contributed at least substantially to the accident to file a workers’ compensation claim under the Jones Act. This is true even if your employer’s negligence played a minor role.
Get the Legal Representation You Need with Alpizar Law
Alpizar Law is a Brevard County personal injury attorney with the resources and knowledge to assist you with your Jones Act or maritime disaster case. Our legal team has a demonstrated history of success in obtaining reasonable and appropriate workers’ compensation for our clients, as shown by our track record of success.
If you’ve been hurt aboard a commercial vessel, or if you’re a seaman looking for justice under the Jones Act, we have the expertise and resources to assist you in achieving the best resolution that’s possible for your case. Choose Alpizar Law as your legal counsel so that you do not have to go through this challenging period by yourself. Get in touch with us as soon as possible to set up a consultation.