What is Maritime Law?
The maritime law, Jones Act, was passed by the United States Congress to protect injured seaman who may not be covered by other maritime law. Offshore workers, merchant seamen, and others often use the term “maritime law” when referring to the Jones Act. For purposes of this article “maritime law” and “Jones Act” are synonymous.
Maritime law covers legal affairs and dealings between ship owners, crewmembers, passengers and cargoes on the high seas and other navigable waters. The U.S. Constitution grants federal judicial power to all maritime law cases. The Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the federal district courts exclusive jurisdiction in maritime law cases and made the Supreme Court the final arbiter of admiralty law disputes. State courts are still allowed to hear some admiralty law cases.
Maritime law originated from ancient customs of early Mediterranean seafaring nations. The earliest maritime law is said to have influenced the Roman legal system. Because the fundamental dangers of seafaring have never changed, today’s maritime law is a mixture of ancient rules and new laws. In fact, the time-honored principles of “maintenance and cure” are still used today.
Who is covered under Maritime Law?
Seamen who are injured on sea going vessels on navigable waters and offshore oil rigs that can be towed and are not permanently affixed to the ocean floor are covered under maritime law. Whether you are a seaman, an officer, a harbor pilot, an oil worker, a technician, a helicopter pilot, work on a tugboat, casino boat, barge, ship, supply boat, semi-submersible drilling rig, jack-up drilling rig or if you become injured on or near the water, you should talk to a maritime law attorney before making a claim or as soon as possible thereafter.
The term “seaman” is very broad under maritime law. It was the intention of Congress, to protect seamen, and to include all seamen hired to serve on board a vessel. Federal courts have determined that the term “seaman”:
- Extends to all persons employed on a vessel to assist in the main purpose of the voyage.
- Extends to all persons whose duties are maritime in character and rendered on vessels engaged in commerce or trade, in navigable waters.
- Includes anyone employed on a vessel to which an American corporation holds legal title and which another American corporation operates under demise charter.
- Shall include persons who otherwise might be deemed not to be a seamen; it includes some that might otherwise be excluded; it does not take anyone out who would otherwise be there.
If you think you may have a maritime law claim, please call us at 1800JonesAct. We are a maritime law firm and we will confidentially speak with you about your injury and answer any questions. We do our best to help our clients with financial and medical care. Our attorneys are easy to talk to and your phone calls will always be returned on the same day you call. We will provide quality legal representation and help you through this difficult time in your life.
Let Us Help You
No matter where you live, the lawyers and attorneys at the Ogletree Abbott Law Firm can help you get the help you need. If you would like, a lawyer or an attorney can contact you to answer your questions. There is no obligation and the initial phone call is always free of charge. Call toll free 1-800-JonesAct (1-800-566-3722), or send us an email. Call today and we can help you with your maritime law questions.