If you earn your living on the high seas you will be acutely aware of how dangerous an occupation it can be and it is not an environment that is free of criminal activity either, which is why it pays to know some key facts about working on the water.
You could find yourself in a challenging situation or suffer an accident while carrying out your duties and there are various scenarios where you might need the services of a maritime accident attorney to help you get the right outcome.
In the meantime, here are some things to keep in mind.
Understanding different jurisdictions
One of the first things you need to know is where you are deemed to be at the point you suffer an accident or experience an incident.
Although it is often described as the high seas, this term actually refers to international waters that usually start when you reach a distance of 12 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal state.
Different laws apply in international waters and that is why it is so relevant to know where the high seas start.
Designed to protect you
You need to be protected by law where possible when working on water and that is where the Jones Act comes in.
It is designed to offer protection to you and your loved ones when disaster strikes and your physical and financial circumstances change.
Away from home
The nature of working on a vessel will mean you are often far from home and even when you are in international waters the Jones Act still applies.
All grades of personnel
It is important to understand that this act does not discriminate according to rank or job title.
Whether you are the ship’s captain or a cook in the kitchen, you are afforded the same rights as an employee.
Home rules apply
If you are flying a US flag you will be treated according to the relevant United States laws when it comes to criminal acts, even when the incident takes place in what are deemed to be international waters.
If you are not at sea
Another salient point would be to know what happens in the eyes of the law when your ship is docked.
Provided it has staff allocated to it at the time an accident or criminal act occurs the Jones Act will still be in force, even though you are not actually sailing the seas.
The buck stops here
Someone has to be in overall charge and the role of the captain is a huge responsibility.
The captain will have the final say on all matters relating to the ship and its safety, and it would also be their responsibility to take action when any form of criminal activity has taken place on board.
Is it just the seas?
Last but not least, there might be some confusion about what constitutes international waters when your vessel is traveling on a lake rather than the open seas.
It should be noted that foreign lakes can also be treated as international waters should an incident occur and legal action is required to resolve the situation.
If you keep these key points in mind it should help you to know your rights if you need to make a claim for an injury or any other incident that could have an impact on you.