Any vessel flying the United States flag is still covered by United States maritime law even while sailing in international waters. However, the intersections of domestic and foreign maritime law can prove complex, archaic, and confusing, even knowing you have the maritime laws of the United States on your side. Luckily, the maritime attorneys of O’Bryan Baun Karamanian have navigated these complicated waters before, and know how to steer your case to a successful resolution.
What Are International Waters and Foreign Voyages?
US maritime law defines “international waters” as any body of water outside the jurisdiction of the United States. Generally speaking, when a ship sails or works in international waters, any legal matter falls under the jurisdiction of the country whose flag it flies. International waters can include major oceans, seas, and even lakes in other countries that allow the passage of American-owned or -operated vessels.
These bodies of water generally exist between two different nations, located beyond the marked territorial waters of each state starting some 12 nautical miles from a coastal state. Generally, this term is used to refer to areas such as the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and England, the northern Pacific Ocean, and much of the Indian Ocean, but any area sufficiently far enough from another country’s shoreline can be considered international waters.
In addition, international waters can be referred to by many different terms. Active travels through international waters can be referred to as “foreign voyages”, which means in the legal sense any voyage between a country covered by the Jones Act (such as the United States) and a country outside its jurisdiction. This distinction is important to make, as American maritime law can still apply to a vessel even while it travels through the waters of another country not covered by the same laws. The laws governing these voyages can be complex depending on the circumstances, and the success of your case can depend on a large number of factors.
What Can I Do If I Am Hurt Or Killed In International Waters?
No matter where the vessel is navigating to, if the vessel is flying the flag of the United States or has U.S. base of operations, it is covered by American maritime law exactly like it would be while sailing in American waters.
For example, let’s say you’re employed on a vessel flying an American flag that’s sailing in foreign waters to take goods to another country. While employed on this vessel, you fall ill or get injured due to negligence or poor working conditions. Under the Jones Act, you would still be able to seek financial compensation from the shipowner for your illness or injury, even while sailing in the waters of another country.
Under the right circumstances, international waters law can help with untimely deaths and fatalities as well. Among the many different acts that make up maritime law in America, the Death on the High Seas act directly applies to any maritime worker who dies in the line of duty. This act helps to cover any death caused by malfunctioning equipment, dangerous voyages in rough seas, poorly trained crew, unseaworthy vessels, or any number of other accidents that are found to be the fault of the shipowner. With this act your family will be financially protected in the event of a death while working on the water in addition to any standard maritime injuries you may encounter.
Contact O’Bryan Law Today
With as complicated as maritime law is on its own, international maritime law can be even more difficult to navigate. If you’re facing an accident or injury claim in international waters, you need a tough and experienced Jones Act lawyer to help you get justice.
At O’Bryan Baun Karamanian, we have dozens of years of combined experience dealing with the legalities of international waters. We focus solely on maritime law, placing our skills leagues ahead of other personal injury lawyers who ‘sometimes dabble’ in maritime injuries. Don’t waste any more precious time – contact O’Bryan today and let us put the wheels of justice in motion.