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Admiralty Law

     

 
Maritime torts are unique because of the application of uniform federal maritime law. The following areas of interest show a few federal statutes relating to maritime actions.

The Jones Act & How it applies to Seaman's Injuries

The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides a cause of action for injured seamen.  Unlike workers' compensation, it does not require payment regardless of fault.  A seaman must prove negligence or fault on the part of the vessel's owners, operators, officers, and/or fellow employees or by reason of any defect in the vessel, gear, tackle, or equipment, i.e., unseaworthiness of the vessel. Here the employer must do something unreasonable or fail to perform a reasonable act that would have prevented injury in order for the seaman to prevail.  Only a seaman can recover under the Jones Act. A seaman is a member of the crew of a vessel or individual who is assigned to a vessel or a fleet of vessels. Examples include: those who work on tankers, freighters, tugs, supply and crew boats, barges, and fishing vessels as a member of the crew are considered seamen.

Injuries occurring on rigs & platforms

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) This federal statute provides for compensation for death or injuries "occurring as the result of operations conducted on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). It applies during operations such as: of exploring for, developing, removing, or transporting by pipeline the natural resources, or involving rights to the natural resources, of the subsoil and seabed of the OCS."  The OCS applies to all submerged lands beyond state territorial waters but within U.S. territorial waters.  This will include artificial islands and fixed structures upon the OCS, i.e., fixed oil drilling platforms.  Injuries occurring on fixed oil platforms within state territorial waters are most often governed by state law. 

Longshoremen & other 3rd Party Claims

The Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act is a federal statute which provides for the payment of compensation benefits for disability or death of an employee falling under its provisions, if the disability or death results from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States, or any of the following: an adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing or building a vessel are considered "navigable waters" under the statute.