Maritime Law Guide

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Search the maritime conventionsdatabase.

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Vessel Listings & Locators
has links to 20 online vessel databases.


   

     The Admiralty and Maritime Law Guide includes over 1,500 annotated links to admiralty law resources on the Internet and a growing database of admiralty case digests, opinions and international maritime conventions.

 Recent Additions


OceanPortal (Reference)
A UNESCO sponsored site that is a comprehensive directory of ocean related and maritime web sites, with an objective of helping scientists and other ocean experts locate relevant information on the Internet.

Hong Kong Maritime Law Association (Associations)
The Hong Kong Maritime Law Association was established in 1978. Its membership includes maritime lawyers, shipowners, P&I clubs and other persons and organisations who have an interest in maritime law. The site includes a detailed page containing links to the relevant maritime ordinances and cases.

 Recent Circuit Court Admiralty Opinions


     The following are digests of recent United States Circuit Court Admiralty decisions, with links to the full opinions.  For past digests and opinions organized by date and subject, see the Circuit Court Admiralty Opinions page, where it is also possible to search the database of Circuit Court opinions.

Arthur v. Maersk, Inc.
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
January 13, 2006
Suits in Admiralty Act/Procedure: Where Plaintiff seaman amended his complaint to name the United States as defendant in his Jones Act action, although the claim was past the two year Suits in Admiralty Act statute of limitations, the amended claim nonetheless related back to the original complaint under Rule 15 and was not time barred because: (1) the claim in the amended pleading arose out of the “conduct, transaction, or occurrence” set forth in the original pleading; (2) within 120 days of institution of the action, the party to be brought in by amendment had received “such notice of the . . . action that the party will not be prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits”; and, (3) within 120 days of institution of the action, the party to be brought in by amendment knew or should have known that, “but for a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party,” the action would have been brought against that party.

Paparo v. M/V ETERNITY
First Circuit Court of Appeals
January 5, 2006
Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Act/Procedure: The Court reversed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the vessel and against the plaintiff longshoreman. The material facts were in dispute and the longshoreman was entitled to have a jury decide whether he had proven his case that the vessel was negligent, causing his injury. Plaintiff contended that the accident occurred when someone on board the ETERNITY prematurely used the ship’s winch to haul a line he was holding back in, thus jerking the line out of his grip, causing him to fall. The facts surrounding this allegation were in dispute such that the District Court was in error to have accepted the theory of the vessel’s expert witness that the winch would have pulled the line back too slowly and gradually to create the yanking motion that Plaintiff alleged.

Stevedoring Services of America v. Price
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
January 5, 2006
Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Act: Although 33 U.S.C. § 928(a) authorizes district courts to award fees “in the successful prosecution” of a Longshore & Harbor Workers’ claim, § 928(c) states that a court “may approve an attorney’s fee for the work done before it by the attorney for the claimant.” In view of this language, the district court lacked jurisdiction to award fees to claimant, because the work undertaken in successfully opposing his employer’s certiorari petition to the United States Supreme Court was not work done “before” the district court.

 Recent Supreme Court Admiralty Opinions


Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Lines
June 6, 2005
Government Regulation: Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U. S. C. §12181 et seq., is applicable to foreign-flag cruise ships in U. S. waters, except insofar as that Title regulates a vessel’s internal affairs.

Stewart v. Dutra Construction
February 22, 2005
Jones Act
: The Super Scoop, a floating platform with a bucket that removes silt from the ocean floor and dumps it onto adjacent scows, was a vessel for purposes of determining seaman status under the Jones Act since the definition of a “vessel” under sections 1 and 3 of the Revised Statutes of 1873 “includes every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.” Section 3 requires only that a watercraft be “used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water,” not that it be used primarily for that purpose. The Super Scoop was not only “capable of being used” to transport equipment and passengers over water—it was so used. (See the underlying decisions in Stewart v. Dutra Construction(1st Cir. 2003) and Stewart v. Dutra Construction (1st Cir. 2000).)

     For links to earlier Supreme Court opinions and to search the database of opinions at this site, see the Supreme Court Admiralty Opinions page.

 Pending Maritime Legislation & Regulation


     For a summary of pending maritime legislation and federal regulation, see the Transportation Institute’s Pending Legislative Matters page and its report on Pending Regulatory Matters.

     The THOMAS site of the Library of Congress and the GPO Access site can be used to track legislation and regulation directly. THOMAS provides a browsable list of pending legislation introduced in the latest Congress and a list of the latest enacted Public Laws.  GPO Access provides the Federal Register online where it is possible to search the Proposed Rules section.


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Betancourt, Van Hemmen, Greco & Kenyon - Admiralty Attorneys - New Jersey - New York
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Maritime Worker Injuries – The Basics

Start here to understand maritime workers’ rights and legal options after an on-the-job injury.

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There are two basic types of maritime workers: in the first group are those workers who qualify as “seamen,” and in the second group is basically everyone else who works on or near the water. The type of compensation that an injured maritime worker can receive depends on which group they are in. In this article, we’ll cover some key considerations when it comes to workplace injuries in the maritime industry.

Who is a Seaman?

In general, a seaman is a person who spends a significant amount of his/her time working as a crewmember or a captain on a vessel (almost any kind of ship or boat) that is considered “in navigation.” For more information about who is a seaman, please see Who Qualifies As A Seaman Under The Jones Act?.

What Compensation is an Injured Seaman Entitled to?

Unlike almost all other employees, injured seamen are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under either state or federal law. Instead, an injured seaman is entitled to three separate types of compensation and/or damages under federal law.

First, an injured seaman is entitled to sue his/her employer for negligence under a federal law called the Jones Act. Second, an injured seaman is entitled to sue the owner of the vessel on which he/she was injured for damages under the federal maritime doctrine of unseaworthiness. Third, an injured seaman is entitled to receive what is called maintenance and cure, regardless of whose fault the injury was. Let’s take a brief look at each of these three types of damages.

Negligence Under The Jones Act

The Jones Act is a federal law that gives seamen who were injured in the course of their employment the right to sue their employer for negligence damages. Under the Jones Act, a maritime employer must:

  • provide the seaman with a reasonably safe place to work, and
  • use ordinary care to under the circumstances to maintain and keep the vessel on which the seaman works in a reasonably safe condition.

These are very strict requirements. Almost any unsafe condition on a vessel, however small, can lead to liability under the Jones Act.

A very important part of the Jones Act is its unusually low burden of proving that the employer’s negligence caused the seaman’s injury. In standard negligence cases such as car accident cases, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the main cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

But under the Jones Act, the injured seaman need only prove that the employer’s negligence played any part however small in the plaintiff’s injuries. This means that the plaintiff would still be entitled to recover damages against a Jones Act employer as long as the employer’s negligence was even a 1% cause of the injury.

Learn more about Making a Jones Act Claim.

Unseaworthiness

Under maritime law, a seaworthy vessel is a ship whose hull, equipment and crew are reasonably adequate in design, maintenance and character to perform their intended functions in the operation of the ship.

Unseaworthiness does not necessarily mean that the vessel cannot sail or be navigated. A vessel is unseaworthy with respect to a seaman if it does not provide him with safe and suitable appliances with which to perform his work, and if it does not afford him a safe place in which to work.

An important aspect of the law of seaworthiness is that it has nothing to do with negligence. The vessel owner will be liable for an unseaworthy vessel even if the owner acted reasonably. If the vessel or any part of it was not fit for its intended function, it is unseaworthy, period.

Learn more about Unseaworthiness and Maritime Law.

Maintenance and Cure

Maintenance and cure is a very old aspect of maritime law that requires a maritime employer to provide care for injured seamen regardless of whose fault the injury was.

Maintenance means the room and board of the injured seaman while he/she is recovering from an injury. Maintenance includes such expenses as the seaman’s rent or mortgage, utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and food, but not things like telephone, internet, or car payments.

Cure is the injured seaman’s medical expenses. The employer must pay the injured seaman maintenance and cure until the seaman reaches a point of maximum medical improvement.

Maritime Workers Who are Not Seamen are Covered by the Longshore Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is a federal workers’ compensation act that governs workers’ compensation for maritime employees, among other types of employees.

The Longshore Act covers the majority of employees who work on or near the water and who are not seamen (i.e., who are not members of a crew of a vessel).

The types of employees who are covered by the Longshore Act are people like longshoremen, harbor workers, and most other people who work on docks and in shipping terminals or shipyards. For more information on exactly who is covered by the Longshore Act, please see The LHWCA – an Overview.

What Types of Benefits Does the Longshore Act Provide?

The Longshore Act is a standard workers’ compensation act, not unlike state workers’ compensation acts. A very important difference between the Longshore Act and most state workers’ compensation acts is that the Longshore Act generally provides more compensation to the injured worker than most state workers’ compensation acts do. Let’s look at some examples of this.

First, temporary total disability benefits under many state workers’ compensation laws are only 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage, while they are 66 2/3% under the Longshore Act.

Second, many state workers’ compensation acts do not provide compensation for workers who have a permanent partial disability, while the Longshore Act does provide coverage for this class of disability.

Learn more about Making a Claim Under the LHWCA.

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