Maritime Laws – Gulf Coast
Maritime laws create rules and regulations for the activities that occur in navigable waters as well as on offshore facilities. This can range from accidents, injuries, and deaths at sea and on oil rigs, contracts to carry cargo from port to port, and various salvage claims.
One region where these laws are often utilized is the Gulf Coast of the United States. The area surrounding the Gulf of Mexico contains a significant coastline with inlets and bays that connect to major rivers and may include barrier islands. The southern states that comprise these areas are Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Seven of the busiest ports in the United States are in the region.
Oil and gas are abundant resources in the area and are at the center of domestic petroleum and oil production. There are thousands of oil rigs in the water. There is also a great deal of shipping in the area. The ports of Houston and New Orleans are two of the largest shipping ports, based on the volume of cargo, not only in the U.S. but the world. Commercial fishing also has a strong presence, especially in Mississippi and Alabama.
Along with a high level of activity in the region, there would also be a greater number of accidents and injuries. Injuries can occur aboard ships or barges, when two ships collide, when a ship hits a stationary object, on offshore oil rigs or other types of offshore facilities, in cargo areas, and on docks. There are a number of maritime laws which address various incidents at sea or on offshore facilities including the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, the Longshoremen and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, the Public Vessels Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Each protects certain individuals working in diverse maritime situations including dock workers, seamen, those involved with the exploration of oil, gas and other natural resources, and drilling operations. Remedies may include actual damages, medical expenses, maintenance for certain expenses while living ashore due to injury, and court costs and attorney’s fees.