As far as the open waters go, it may seem to some that the waters are free reign, a kind of last frontier where anything goes. However, the open ocean and waters have been governed by one body of government or another for hundreds of years. With an ever-globalizing world that seems to be shrinking by the minute, it matters who has jurisdiction over a boating accident in Louisiana or off its coast.
A lot of maritime businesses are based in Louisiana and they employ a large number of people. However, offshore work is often hazardous and injuries are common. Several maritime laws, such as the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, have been enacted to protect the rights of offshore workers in the event of work-related injury.
Many Louisiana residents, with the Gulf of Mexico so close by, tend to gravitate toward the water. Water sports and recreational activities, such as boating and fishing, are popular among state residents and tourists who come to visit each year. Boating, or any other recreational activity where the people on the boat have to essentially depend on their boat operator and instructor, can also prove to be inherently dangerous at times.
With rivers, lakes and bayous found throughout Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico nearby, many state residents have spent time boating for recreation and sport as well as to make a living. Unfortunately, boating accidents happen every year and injure and kill people. Many who survive such accidents end up with lifelong disabilities. This is why all boaters are required by law to follow a variety of safety rules and guidelines laid down by state and federal authorities to promote safe and enjoyable boating experiences.
Cruising during the summer is a popular way to vacation for many people in Lafayette, Louisiana, and for the rest of the country. However, when a tourist is injured on board a cruise ship, the vacation can suddenly become much less fun. Such an incident recently occurred when a cruise ship, in which European tourists were traveling, collided with a wall, while entering a lock in northern New York State.
The Jones Act was passed to provide maintenance and medical treatment for an injured seaman working on any vessel, if the injury occurred during the course of employment. The Jones Act adopts a very open-minded interpretation of an injured worker. Therefore, any seaman working in any vessel, if injured in navigable waters, will be entitled to claim compensation under the Jones Act.
Unfortunately, accidents of all types are not uncommon in Louisiana. While some of these are unpreventable or nearly so, others are directly caused by the actions of others. Boat accidents are one example as they are frequently caused by the irresponsible behavior of others.
According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 36 people died last year in boating crashes, and five of those deaths could be attributed to alcohol use. National statistics reveal in 2011 that 16 percent of all boating accident fatalities were directly related to the use of drugs or alcohol. That same year, the LDWF issued a total of 108 DWI citations to boat operators, ten of which were issued over one weekend dubbed Operation Dry Water.