Maritime Law Glossary

Accident Reports – Accident reports are documents filled out after an injury.

Admiralty Law/Maritime Law – Admiralty is a type of jurisdiction exercised by Federal courts. The general called maritime law, is a branch of United States law that applies on interstate waterways.

Blue Water Seaman – A seaman who works primarily on the oceans, Great Lakes and connecting bodies or water.

Locomotive Inspection Act – A law enacted by congress to ensure the safety of locomotives.

Comparative Negligence – A defense that an individuals own negligence contributed to injury.

Compensatory Damages – Pain, suffering, mental anguish, inability to engage in social and recreational pursuits previously enjoyed, fear of future surgery, embarrassment, humiliation, scarification, and lost past and future earning power, are but some of the components of damages allowed.

Crew Member – Workers with a substantial connection to a vessel in navigation whose duties contribute to the function of the vessel are crew members or seamen.

Cruise Ship Worker – Workers with a substantial connection to a cruise ship in navigation whose duties contribute to the function of the vessel.

Death Actions – Judicial recourse when a spouse, member of the family or loved one is killed.

Defense Base Act – Law that extends the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Act coverage to persons working on US military bases overseas. The act provides medical treatment and compensation to employees of defense contractors injured in the scope and course of employment.

Diving Accidents – Accidents suffered while diving.

Dredge Worker – A worker employed on a dredge moving earth, sand, gravel, etc. from American waterways.

Favored Status – Seamen are considered wards of the Admiralty Court whose rights are to be jealously protected, just like the court protects the rights of a minor. Maritime law gives seamen more protection than nearly every other class of worker.

Federal Safety Appliance Act – An 1893 federal law that made air brakes and automatic couplers mandatory on all trains in the United States.

Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA) – A federal law protecting railroad workers on the job.

Ferry Boat Worker – Employee on a boat shuttling passengers or vehicles short distances.

Fishermen – Persons employed on a fishing vessel.

Great Lakes Seamen – Seaman working primarily on the Great Lakes.

Gulf Coast/Off Shore Seamen/Oil Patch Worker – Employee working in the Gulf of Mexico on or in support of oil rigs.

International Seamen – Seamen who work primarily on the oceans on foreign voyages.

International Waters – Open sea outside the boundaries and control of any individual country. Sometimes called “the high seas.”

Jones Act – Also called the merchant marine act of 1920, is a law protecting US seamen, sailors and maritime workers.

Longshoremen/Harbor Workers – Onshore workers involved in vessel loading, unloading and repair.

Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Compensation Act – A law that provides employment-injury and occupational-disease protection to onshore workers who are injured during ship loading, unloading or repair.

Maintenance & Cure – Automatic periodic payments payable for any illness or injury sustained in the service of the ship, until maximum medical improvement is reached regardless of fault or blame (unless the injury or illness results from willful misconduct, such as drunkenness, of the crew member).

Malpractice – Black‘s law dictionary defines malpractice as “instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional.”

Maritime Construction – Any building, trade work, or assembling of infrastructure on the water or in the maritime industry.

Maritime Injuries – Injures sustained while working in the maritime industry.

Maritime Law – Maritime law is a branch of United States law that governs maritime injuries, offenses and questions.

Necessary Proof – Before a crew member is entitled to compensatory damages, it must be proved that the injury or illness resulted from employer negligence or unseaworthiness.

Negligence – Encyclopedia Britannica defines negligence as “a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.”

Occupational Disease – Diseases and illnesses caused, contributed to, or aggravated by negligence or unseaworthiness, arising while in the service of the ship.

Oil Rig – An offshore structure with facilities to drill wells, extract and process oil and natural gas, and temporarily store products. Often, the offshore platforms contain facilities to house employees.

On-Shore Injuries – Maritime employment injuries suffered on land that are sometimes not covered by the Jones Act. They may be covered by the Longshoreman and Harbor workers Compensation Act.

Onshore Employee – Maritime employees not covered by the Jones Act.

Pre-Existing Conditions – If you had a pre-existing condition but could work until an injury made it disabling, compensation can be payable for the aggravation of the underlying condition and the resulting disability.

Punitive Damages – Damages intended to reform or deter guilty parties from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit.

Recreational Boating – Boating for pleasure, leisure or relaxation.

Retaliatory Discharge – The firing of an employee for calling the coastguard, refusing to work under unsafe conditions, whistle blowing or filing a Jones Act claim.

Rivermen/Brown Water Seaman/Towboat Worker – River workers serving primarily on US rivers.

Safe Place to Work – Under the Jones Act, the employer must provide a safe place to work. The entire work environment is taken into consideration, including the task being performed, space, tools and equipment provided, and conditions under which the job must be performed.

Seaworthiness – Mandates that a vessel, her crew, equipment, parts, and procedure be reasonably fit (and safe) for their intended use as it specifically pertains to an injured crew member.

Statute of Limitations – Limit to the time a case can be brought in court from the time of injury. The statute of limitations for maritime torts is three years from either:

  • The date of injury, or
  • When you become aware of an [occupational] injury and its cause

Unearned Wages – For foreign and fishing voyages, the crew member has the right to collect wages he would have received for a voyage if he is entitled to maintenance and cure.

Ward of the Court – Favored status in the eyes of the court for seaman. Maritime law gives seamen more protection than nearly every other class of worker.

Workers Compensation – If you’re injured in the course of your employment as a crew member, the Jones Act preempts the no-fault Workers’ Compensation Acts of any State.

Wrongful Death – Death resulting from negligence.