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St. Tammany Parish Maritime Injury Lawyer

Federal maritime law, also called admiralty law, governs activities on navigable waters, including accidents on board a vessel. Whether you are a passenger or an employee on a ship, if an accident happened while sailing navigable waters and you were injured, maritime law will generally influence what compensation you receive.

Maritime law is a unique segment of legal work and pursuing damages under maritime law often differs considerably from a typical personal injury case. If you were injured in an accident on navigable waters, look to a St. Tammany Parish maritime accident lawyer to help you weigh your options.

Jurisdiction Determination is Critical

Establishing that the accident happened on navigable waters is the first step when bringing a claim under the maritime law. Courts have decided that waters are navigable only if they support commercial boat traffic. Some waterways in St. Tammany Parish are not deep enough for commercial vessels and when smaller vessels have accidents in these shallow waters, maritime law may not be applicable.

Louisiana courts have found that a vessel which is permanently moored on a navigable waterway does not fall within the purview of maritime law. A seasoned maritime accident lawyer could analyze the details of a particular accident and decide whether to bring an injury claim under federal maritime law.

The Identity of the Plaintiff Makes a Difference

The status of a person and their relationship to the vessel makes a difference in which law might apply when they sue for damages. Consulting with a maritime accident attorney can help an injured person clarify their options in the aftermath of an accident.

Seaman

A seaman is an employee of a vessel or shipping company who spends at least 30 percent of their working time on a ship in navigation. When a seaman is injured while at sea, the Jones Act and federal maritime law offer remedies. The Jones Act offers injured maritime employees the right to employer-paid living expenses (maintenance) and medical care (cure). An injured seaman may sue the employer if it does not provide these benefits.

Both the Jones Act and maritime law allow the seaman to sue a negligent party for damages. Under the Jones Act, the seaman must prove negligence to get damages. Under general maritime law, the seaman must show that the vessel was not legally seaworthy. An experienced maritime attorney could advise about whether a specific case is more likely to be successful under the Jones Act or general maritime law.

Passengers on Vessels

In general, passengers who are injured on a vessel are entitled to bring an action against a negligent boat owner under maritime law. The vessel owner has a duty to keep the passenger reasonably safe from physical harm and to maintain the vessel and its equipment properly. If the owner fails in any of these duties and a passenger is injured as a result, that owner may be liable to the passenger for damages.

However, passengers on cruise lines agree to forfeit certain rights when they buy a ticket. Tickets are contracts, and certain clauses may limit the passenger’s ability to seek monetary recourse. Tickets often give to the cruise line:

  • Choice of Venue: The cruise line chooses where a passenger must bring any lawsuit. It may be a state on the other side of the country from the passenger’s home state.
  • Choice of Law: The cruise line selects the state or federal law that will govern the passenger’s lawsuit.
  • Limitations of Liability: The cruise line may restrict the passenger from suing over specific injuries, asserting that the passenger assumed the risk.
  • Statutes of Limitations: The vessel owners may limit the time passengers have to file a personal injury lawsuit, potentially requiring that the passenger file a notice of intent to sue within a restricted timeframe, often between 30-180 days.

Work with a Maritime Lawyer to Get Redress for Your Injuries

If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence while on a vessel under navigation, you may be entitled to compensation from the liable party. A prompt consultation with an experienced St. Tammany Parish maritime injury lawyer could help you understand what recourse might be available. Contact a dedicated admiralty legal team today to schedule a case review.