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
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.