For the centuries of seafaring that helps create this country, it was all too easy to get injured on a ship. Even as the technology improved and engines replaced sails, it was still a very hazardous career to work in shipping and offshore drilling. Even though no state can claim jurisdiction when someone is hurt offshore, the government in Washington maintains protections for maritime workers.
Working on the water may not be riskier to life and limb than logging or trucking, but it comes with unique challenges that require a certain firmness from workers who choose it. And these special challenges have convinced governments to afford maritime crews and laborers special protections so they can do their jobs.
A life on the water is not an easy one. Everyone from the captain of a vessel to the deckhands face risks that no landlubber would see or even understand, and caution combined with experience can easily save lives on the sea, the river or other bodies of water hosting American trade.
You don't have to be miles out to sea to have the protection of admiralty law. The tradition of rules covering activities on ships and the water goes back thousands of years, but the modern versions are more than extensions of history. American admiralty law is there specifically to protect American workers with jobs that help keep the country's trade and transport moving.
It's pretty easy to know your rights at work when you have your feet squarely on land. But a lot of workers in Louisiana, like many in Florida and California, spend a lot of hours in the territorial waters of their state. Some may even end up in international waters in search of fish below the surface or oil beneath the rocks.
Disputes in a specific community or parish on land are often complicated, but it is usually a simple process to figure out which courts can resolve them if no other method works. Things can become less sure, however, when disputes involve territory covered by water.
Higher-than-average rainfall has resulted in significant flooding along the Mississippi River in recent weeks. This has caused levees to break -- putting residents, crops and marine life in peril. It has also resulted in shipments being delayed. That has caused prices at the store to soar. Maritime workers have been at an increased risk of getting hurt as they've attempted to navigate these waters.
If you work as an able-bodied (AB) seaman or have another position on a seafaring vessel, at some point while carrying out your duties, you might get injured. What happens next?
Being employed as an offshore oil rig worker is dangerous. Commercial divers have perhaps one of the most hazardous jobs of all though.
Ocean fishing is often referred to as one of the most dangerous professions in the world. It takes lives and leads to serious injuries. The high demand for fish means that it's a viable career and a lot of people still turn to this trade, but they have to understand the risks.