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Does Maritime Law Apply on Land?

July 07, 2022

Does Maritime Law Apply on Land?

When an accident or other incident that leads to injuries or property damage occurs on the open water, you may know that maritime law likely applies to claims that an injured party may have. But you may be surprised to learn that maritime law may also apply to certain accidents and incidents on land. The scope of maritime law not only includes cases that arise on the water but also cases that involve workers in the maritime industry. Maritime law can even apply to cases that arise well away from the open ocean, such as on lakes or rivers. If you have been involved in an accident or incident that may involve the maritime industry, even if the incident may have occurred on land or inland, an experienced maritime law attorney can help you learn more about how maritime law can apply on land and may govern your legal claims. 

What Is Maritime Law?

Maritime law, also called admiralty law, refers to the regulations, laws, and international conventions and treaties that govern matters on the water, including maritime accidents, shipping activities, or even criminal offenses occurring on the water. Examples of matters that are covered by maritime law include:

  • Insurance claims for vessels and cargo
  • Personal injury and workman’s comp claims between ship owners & maritime companies and seamen & passengers
  • Registration and licensing of vessels
  • Safety requirements
  • Contracts for the carriage of goods and passengers

What Are the Statutes That Make Up Maritime Law?

In the United States, some of the most important statutes that make up national maritime law include:

  • Jones Act/Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a statute that governs U.S. merchant marines and regulates maritime commerce within U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. One section of the act is known as the Jones Act, and governs certain rights of seamen (including the right to recover compensation for injuries suffered in accidents) and regulates trade between two U.S. ports. 
  • Death on the High Seas Act, which allows dependent family members to recover compensation from a shipowner for the wrongful death of a seaman in international waters.
  • Suits in Admiralty Act, which governs the process of filing admiralty lawsuits against the U.S. government
  • Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which mandates workers’ compensation for “maritime” workers, including harbor and dock workers or other maritime workers not otherwise covered by the Jones Act
  • Foreign Ship Registry Act, governs the operation of foreign-flagged ships in U.S. waters and ports
  • Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, which governs the contractual relationship between ship owners and cargo companies
  • Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, allows a vessel owner to limit unforeseeable damage claims to the value of the ship at the end of the voyage plus value of its pending freight

In addition, international maritime law is governed by several key treaties and conventions, including:

  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which governs safety protocols for oceangoing vessels
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which covers standards for preventing pollution by vessels from either normal operations or from accidents
  • International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), which establishes basic international requirements for the seafaring industry

When Maritime Law Applies on Land

Certain maritime laws will necessarily apply on land. Most notably, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act will apply even for shipyard, port, and dock workers when they are injured on the job while on land. In addition, maritime insurance statutes will also come into effect for vessels that are damaged while drydocked, or for cargo that is being held on land at a dock or at a port. 

In addition, accidents or incidents that occur on inland waters, such as lakes and rivers, may also be subject to maritime law. Federal admiralty law applies to any “navigable” waterway, which is defined as any waterway that:

  • Is subject to tides
  • Connects to the continuous interstate waterway
  • Has the capacity to be navigated
  • Is currently navigable

Thus, maritime law can apply well away from the ocean, such as off a vessel in a dock or port, as well as “inland” on navigable waterways. 

Why You Need to Hire an Attorney for a Dock, Port, or Harbor Accident

If you were involved in an accident or incident in a dock, harbor, port, or shipyard, or on a navigable inland waterway, you should turn to a maritime accident attorney for help. Maritime laws are federal laws that can be much more complex than state laws governing contracts, insurance, or personal injury. In addition, maritime lawsuits must be filed in federal courts, which have strict rules and procedures. You need a maritime accident lawyer who has experience dealing specifically with admiralty cases. When you have a case that occurred on land but may be subject to maritime laws, an attorney can help by:

  • Investigating the circumstances of the accident or incident that you were involved in to recover the evidence we need to build your case.
  • Reviewing your case and advising you of your legal rights and options, including how maritime law applies to your case and what you can expect at each stage of the matter.
  • Identifying potentially liable parties under applicable law.
  • Calculating your expenses and losses to make sure we are pursuing fair and full financial recovery on your behalf.
  • Pursuing maximum compensation for you, whether through negotiated settlement or by taking your case to federal court and fighting to win at trial, if necessary. 

Contact The Law Offices of Preston Easley for an Initial Case Evaluation with a Seasoned Maritime Law Attorney

If you have been involved in a maritime accident, you need experienced legal representation to help you navigate the complex laws applicable to your case. Contact The Law Offices of Preston Easley today for a free, no-obligation consultation to speak with a knowledgeable maritime accident attorney to discuss your legal rights for recovering compensation for the losses you sustained in the accident. 

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Cases We Handle

  • maritime worker working on ship

    Longshoremen & Shipyard Workers

    Longshoring and shipyard work are very dangerous occupations. Workers in these fields, along with marine construction workers, are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, a very generous no-fault workers’ compensation system. It covers medical expenses, temporary disability, permanent disability and vocational rehabilitation.

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  • sea vessel docked at US shore

    Jones Act Seamen

    A seaman is a member of the crew of a vessel or group of vessels under common ownership or control. The vessel can be anything from a raft to a cargo ship. We represent seamen who work aboard recreational vessels, tugboats, dredges, barges, skiffs, workboats and cargo ships. We also represent seamen who are marine construction workers

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  • Diving

    We represent people who have been injured in SCUBA diving accidents and Commercial diving accidents. We also handle diving boat accidents. Diving can be very dangerous. We successfully represented a commercial diver who was seriously injured while cleaning the propeller of a U.S. Navy ship at Pearl Harbor

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  • accident at construction site and hard hat on floor

    Construction & Industrial Accidents

    Construction and industrial sites can be very dangerous. Although you generally cannot sue your own employer for a construction site or industrial accident (generally workers’ compensation is your exclusive remedy against your employer) there are many circumstances in which you can file a third party lawsuit against an entity other than your employer for an unsafe condition at a work site which causes you to be injured

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  • Forklift and Crane Injuries Lawyer

    Crane & Forklift Accidents

    The Easley firm has extensive experience with crane and forklift accidents and workplace accidents involving dangerous equipment and machinery. These accidents can be caused by operator error and they can be caused by the unsafe and defective condition of the equipment

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  • auto accident involving two cars on a city street

    Motor Vehicle & Truck Accidents

    Motor vehicle accidents can result in serious injury and death. These kinds of accidents can involve automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and unsafe road design and unsafe road conditions

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  • Catamaran Injuries Attorney

    Passenger Vessel Accidents

    Passenger accidents are common on recreational vessels, catamarans, tour boats and cruise ships.  They are frequently caused by rough sea conditions and unsafe conditions aboard the vessels.  The Easley firm has extensive experience in the field of maritime law.  We have made new law in the field of maritime law with numerous precedent setting decisions in the State Appellate Courts, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court

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  • Defense Base Act

    The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act which covers civilian employees of U.S. defense contractors injured overseas, including war zones. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensations Act as extended by the Defense Base Act is a very generous no fault workers’ compensation system

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Areas Where We Practice

Preston Easley is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He served five years of active duty as a Naval officer — three years as a deck officer on a fast frigate and two years as a patrol boat skipper. Mr. Easley also served aboard a tank landing ship in the reserves.




Let Us Get You The Compensation You Deserve

Preston Easley is an experienced lawyer with considerable expertise in handling federal and state personal injury cases. He will aggressively seek the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. Attorney Easley represents victims of serious and fatal accidents involving cars, trucks, construction projects and maritime work.

Construction Workers We Help

  • Crane and Forklift Operators
  • Pile Drivers
  • Scaffold Workers
  • Iron Workers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Operating Engineers
  • Electricians

Maritime Workers We Help

  • National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) Shipyard Workers
  • Manson Construction Company Workers
  • Manson Dredging Workers
  • Dutra Dredging Workers
  • Commercial Divers
  • Scuba Divers
  • Commercial Fisherman
  • Government Maritime Claims Against the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers, or the US Coast Guard, etc.
  • Marine Construction Workers
  • Offshore Oil and Gas Workers
  • Seamen
  • Shipyard Workers
  • YYK Enterprises, Inc.
  • Pacific Tugboat Service
  • Long Beach Container Terminal
  • Tugboat, Dredge, Longshoremen, and Ferry Workers
  • Barge Crews and Barge Workers
  • Marisco Limited
  • HL Welding
  • SSA Marine
  • Catalina Express
  • R.E. State Engineering
  • Shimmick Construction
  • Nova Group
  • American Scaffolding
  • Safway Scaffolding
  • Kirby Tugs
  • Crowley Tugboats
  • P&R Water Taxi
  • Continental Maritime
  • Pacific Ship Repair
  • Seaward Marine
  • Healy Tibbitts
  • General Construction
  • BAE Shipyards
  • South Coast Welding
  • Matson
  • Pasha
  • Hawaii Stevedores, Inc.
  • McCabe, Hamilton & Renny
  • Young Brothers
  • Sause Bros.
  • Foss Maritime
  • Fenix Marine Services
  • ITS
  • Total Terminals
  • TraPac
  • PCMC
  • Maersk
  • Yang Ming
  • China Overseas Shipping
  • Evergreen

Boating Accidents

  • Catamaran Accidents
  • Charter and Tour Boats
  • Cruise Ship Accidents
  • Passenger Accidents
  • Jet Ski and Personal Watercraft
  • Motorboat Accidents
  • Recreational Accidents
  • Scuba Diving Accidents
  • Speed Boat Accidents
  • Yachts and Sail Boat Accidents
  • Repair Accidents
  • Crew Accidents
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