Maritime Law

Maritime Law

Have you been injured on the water?

South Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are home to some of the nation’s largest ports, the largest river and its most active offshore oil fields. Because of this, many of us make our living on or near the water.

Unfortunately, this can be dangerous work. We have represented countless clients injured on barges, tugs, boats, ships or rigs. If you were injured on a vessel or if at the time of your injury you were the member of the crew of any vessel, your claim may be covered by a special set of laws and your lawyer should have experience in the Jones Act, Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the Seaman’s Protection Act and the General Maritime Law of the United States among others, as there are many potential pitfalls for the unwary.

If you or a family member are injured on or near the water or while a member of the crew of any vessel, barge or rig, the maritime insurance claim world can be extremely complex. We are here to help.

Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is a body of laws, conventions, and treaties that govern private maritime business and other nautical matters, such as shipping or offenses occurring on open water. International rules, governing the use of the oceans and seas, are known as the Law of the Sea.

In most developed nations, maritime law follows a separate code and is an independent jurisdiction from national laws. The United Nations (UN), through the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has issued numerous conventions that can be enforced by the navies and coast guards of countries that have signed the treaty outlining these rules. Maritime law governs many of the insurance claims relating to ships and cargo; civil matters between shipowners, seamen, and passengers; and piracy.

Additionally, maritime law regulates registration, license, and inspection procedures for ships and shipping contracts; maritime insurance; and the carriage of goods and passengers.

The Seaman’s Protection Act (SPA)(46 U.S.C. § 2114) is a federal whistle blower law which prohibits persons from retaliating against seamen for engaging in certain protected activities pertaining to compliance with maritime safety laws and regulations. The rights of mariners with Coast Guard credentials who were terminated for reporting employer conduct that violates United States laws were very limited under federal law before responsibility for investigating and enforcing of the SPA was moved from the Coast Guard to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration as part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. Following this change in the enforcement and administration of the SPA, there were many questions regarding the procedures and applicable evidentiary burdens.

The Chouest Law Firm successfully litigated the first case to be tried under the new Seaman’s Protection Act, prevailing at trial in Washington D.C., prevailing on review before the Administrative Review Board of the United States Department of Labor, on further appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia, and ultimately prevailing in the United States Supreme Court on January 26, 2017 (Case Docket No. 16-1310).