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An overview of admiralty court

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2021 | Uncategorized |

Texas residents often do not understand that occurrences on the high seas away from coastal jurisdictions are not governed by common law. Common law applies to occurrences on land, and all cases are handled per the allowances and restrictions of statutes established within a state unless they are federal based charges, interstate disputes, or claims against a state. Cases that stem from high seas locations are handled under admiralty law, also known as maritime law, and they can be processed much differently from common law cases in Texas.

Types of admiralty court cases

The fact that all claims filed in an admiralty court are based on oceanic locations means that the types of cases are generally restricted to issues such as contract disputes between shippers and various torts. But, more importantly for many maritime workers, injury claims are also handled in admiralty court. This element alone establishes more individual rights to reimbursement for injured workers.

Federal application

Given that there are no specific state laws or state jurisdictions involved in maritime legal issues, cases are processed in the U.S. federal court system. There are still limited criminal charge cases, which means that most cases are civilly discharged. These cases largely are governed by contracts, including individual contracts between employers and all levels of personnel. Due to this case type limitation, courts do not impanel juries. Cases are finalized by judges who evaluate all material facts of the case and rule according to maritime law principles.

For maritime workers this legal division is vital when they are injured. Not only are they entitled to compensation by the Jones Act, which is the 1920 federal legislation bringing them on par with interstate railroad workers, but there is no restriction on suing an employer for general damages resulting from the long-term impact from a workplace injury.