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What is admiralty law and to what is it applicable?

Everyone knows that our court system hears cases and controversies that happen in jurisdictions in Louisiana and other states. But how are cases that stem from events that occurred at sea handled? In these matters, there is a special area of law called admiralty law that addresses many of these cases. This blog post will serve as a brief introduction to admiralty law.

Admiralty law is also called maritime law, and is the area of law that covers contracts, torts, offenses or injuries that happen on navigable waters. Admiralty law is applicable both on the high seas as well as on navigable lakes and rivers. It is a combination of U.S. law and international law. Cases in admiralty law often include a ship captain's duties to crew and passengers and the interaction of ships with each other.

Admiralty cases are often heard in federal courts. Sometimes - depending on the circumstances - admiralty cases are heard in state courts such as Louisiana's state courts. In admiralty cases, the court may apply special rules to the facts presented in court.

Many of the rights of ship's crewmembers exist as a part of admiralty law. For example, if a crewmember is injured on the job, the crewmember's workers' compensation benefits would be governed by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. This federal law requires maritime employers to provide workers' compensation benefits to crewmembers that suffer injuries and illnesses while serving on board a ship.

These workers may also be entitled to other benefits under admiralty law. Workers in this situation have the option to meet with a lawyer knowledgeable of admiralty law to learn about their options. Therefore, when an incident occurs on navigable water and an individual, such as a crewmember, suffers damages, he or she should take the time to become fully informed of his or her options in the matter.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Admiralty Law?" accessed on Feb. 27, 2016

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