Admiralty/Maritime Law

A look at the difference between Federal Maritime Statutes and General Maritime Law.

Offshore activities are governed by Admiralty Law, also known as Maritime Law. Admiralty law governs many facets of offshore work and recreation. There are laws for Mariner Insurance, How to properly and safely transport goods and people, marine salvaging, oil drilling operations, and many others. In general Admiralty law is divided into two sections. There are the specific laws that have been written as federal statutes, and laws that have evolved over the years through major court decisions which are known as general maritime or “common” laws.

Here are some notable Federal Statutes of Admiralty Law:

  • The Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act) was written to allow maritime workers to claim compensation for damages suffered due to an injury or death of a maritime worker, where negligence of the employer or vessel owner can be proven.
  • The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is a federal statute that offers compensation to injured maritime workers such as dockworkers and others who are not covered by the Jones Act.
  • The Admiralty Extension Act of 1948 was written to provide maritime law jurisdiction to cover maritime workers who have been injured on land while working in service to a vessel. This can include loading and unloading cargo, or working near the vessel.
  • The Death on the High Seas Act was written to allow the spouse and dependents of a seaman who was killed in international waters to recover damages against the ship owner.

There are circumstances that occur in which a person cannot file a statutory claim, but cans still find legal resolutions under general maritime law. For instance, if a person were injured on a recreational boat, there are no federal statutes that the victim could file any claims under. However, under general maritime law, the ship owner may still be held responsible for the injury if they were negligent or reckless. If you have been injured at sea and are not sure which statues or laws apply to your case, be sure to consult with an experienced maritime attorney.

General maritime law is quite broad, and there are many laws and cases that have allowed it to evolve as time and technology dictate the way offshore operations are conducted.

Here are some of the notable features of General Maritime Law:

  • Maintenance and Cure – One of the longest standing maritime traditions that has been upheld for generations is the right of an injured seaman to maintenance and cure. The right to maintenance means the injured worker is entitled to room and board, including rent, utilities, food and transportation while recovering. The right to cure means all reasonable medical costs related to the injury will be covered until the injured worker has recovered from the injury.
  • Personal Injury of a Passenger – Ship owners are required to provide reasonable care to any passengers aboard their vessel. Often seen in Cruise Ship cases, if a passenger is injured due to the negligence of the ship owner, Admiralty law allows the injured to file a claim for damages against the ship owner.
  • Personal Injury of a Seaman or Maritime Worker – Maritime employees who are injured aboard or while in service to their vessel have multiple avenues to take to claim losses. They can recover Maintenance and Cure under general maritime lay, or they can file statutory claims for the unseaworthiness of a vessel, or file injury claims under the Jones Act or the LHWCA.

Admiralty Law is a complicated subject due to its expansive nature. When a person needs to know exactly what laws and statues can be used for their specific circumstance, a consultation with an experienced Admiralty Law attorney is crucial to being rewarded the compensation that is rightfully entitled. Carabin Shaw has a qualified, experienced team of attorneys that will work for you to protect your interests. If you have been injured in the service of a Maritime Vessel or while performing other maritime duties, contact Carabin Shaw day or night, 7 days a week for a free consultation. 1.800.862.1260

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