Suffering an incident on the open sea is extremely dangerous, as a vessel can be capsized, leaving people injured or worse, and this is why those that suffer this should seek out a boating accident lawyer. The regulations pertaining to maritime travel are complicated and difficult to follow for someone who is not well-versed in them, and it can be tough for a victim to know if the vessel that caused the harm was in violation of these laws.
The waterways that traffic around ships do not follow the same regulations that the nation’s roadways do. Thus, it is not always intuitive for someone to figure out who is at fault when something goes horribly wrong on the water. If the incident occurs at night, then it is even harder, and because responders to the scene may show up long after the damage is done, there may not be any authorities that can illuminate the situation right away. Because of these factors, it is best to seek out the help of a boating accident lawyer that is familiar with the complexities of maritime regulations before trying to take anyone to court over the damage.
Among the regulations that track maritime traffic is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Also known as the Jones Act, this federal statue asserts that all vessels traveling from U.S. port to U.S. port and carrying cargo must have been built in the United States, must be owned by a U.S. citizen and must be operated by U.S. citizens. While some agencies have claimed this law is protectionism, it is an important set of statutes that ensure national security and the health of some industries in America. This is an important thing to keep in mind when an incident at sea occurs.
The reason why a boating accident lawyer will bring this to the court is that many companies that ferry cargo around the coastlines use employees that are illegal for these purposes. Many businesses try to cut costs by farming out jobs to cheaper labor or to illegal aliens, and this can be a safety risk and is in direct violation of the Jones Act. This is something that a victim is not going to pick up on right away, and likely won’t be able to investigate on his or her own. But it is crucial when there is an incident, and a boating accident lawyer has the ability and tools at their disposal to verify this for the client.
In addition to the Jones Act, the Coast Guard has set up a number of navigation rules that should be followed, and any vessel in violation of these may be culpable for any damages or injuries caused. Things like operator inattention, excessive speed, reckless movement, improper monitoring methods and crew under the influence of alcohol are all major causes of harm to those traveling on the open waters, and because these incidents can cause major, permanent injury and deny a person’s ability to make a living, a victim should seek restitution with the professional help of a qualified boating accident lawyer. With expert guidance and counsel, the victim will have all of the information he or she needs upon walking into the courtroom.