Jurisdiction of Maritime Injury Claims in Louisiana

You might enjoy boating on the bayou or rely on Louisiana’s waterways to ply your trade. Any time you are on the water, you risk injury in a boat accident, which could seriously hurt you and your finances.

After an accident, you might wonder about the jurisdiction of maritime injury claims in Louisiana. Where would you sue, and how? Our knowledgeable maritime injury attorneys could help you figure out the answers for your specific case.

Where to File an Injury Claim for an Accident on the Water

Location matters when it comes to maritime law. Internal waterways like rivers and streams usually fall under local jurisdiction, so a barge or riverboat accident can lead to an action in the local courts under Louisiana Revised Statutes § 34:802.

Accidents that occur in open water off the coast, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, can fall under federal jurisdiction when they take place more than three miles from shore. Louisiana law applies when the accident site is closer than three miles.

When filing a claim based on a boat accident, injured parties can bring an action to hold the boat itself and possibly get it sold to cover the costs of their injuries. Under Revised Statutes § 34:805, they can petition the court to seize the other party’s vessel as long as they post a bond. The vessel can be sold under Revised Statues § 34:811 when the owner does not post their own bond or contest the action,.

The injured party has the right to sue the owner personally as a negligence claim. They must show the other owner had a duty to operate their vessel carefully and breached that duty by their conduct. The person filing suit must show the other boater’s conduct caused the accident and injuries and that their injuries count as legal damages, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages and future earnings

Bringing suit in federal court based on a maritime injury claim could involve federal statutes that apply to seamen and maritime workers, such as the Jones Act or the Death on the High Seas Act. These statutes allow workers to get compensation for injury or death in a maritime setting rather than relying on state law.

Other Things to Know About Injury Claims

When a person brings a maritime injury claim in a Louisiana court with jurisdiction, either in the area where the injury occurred or where the vessel is located, some special rules apply under Revised Statutes § 34:804.

The statute of limitations is only one year under Civil Code § 3492, so an injured person who does not file quickly enough could lose their ability to sue. They should obtain documentation of the accident and their injuries, including photographs, medical records, eyewitness statements, and a police report.

An injured party’s actions can affect their claim due to the “pure comparative fault” rule. When someone is at all responsible for their injuries, such as through their own negligence or poor driving of a boat, their compensation can be reduced by a percentage under Civil Code § 2323. Fortunately, when they are less than 100 percent at fault, they can still recover compensation after that reduction.

An attorney could help an injured person navigate these complex rules and the different jurisdictions for maritime claims in Louisiana. With a lawyer’s assistance, the injured party could file their case on time and understand what compensation could be available in a successful case.

Learn More About Maritime Injury Claims and Jurisdiction From a Louisiana Attorney

After an accident, you should always seek medical attention first. Once you make sure you are okay, think about what happened and how you might make a claim for compensation.

When you have questions about the jurisdiction of maritime injury claims in Louisiana, talk with an attorney at Scott Vicknair. Our lawyers will hear you out and determine whether you have a case, all with the promise of only getting paid when you do. Call to make an appointment today.

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