New York residents who have ever found themselves in gridlock and looked around to see a host of semi trucks or other large commercial vehicles carrying goods may logically wonder why so much commercial transport still relies on ground transportation. Even though the New York City area has designed truck routes in an attempt to alleviate some of the problems and dangers, the number of trucks on the road does pose issues on a daily basis.
The authority of a ship's captain and the protection of the Jones Act are two important items to understand if you work or travel in international waters. Here are eight frequently asked questions about laws covering accidents and crimes at sea.
If you work in the shipping industry in New York, you have likely heard of the Jones Act. You may even have strong feelings about it. You wouldn't be alone. Many people have boisterous opinions about this law from the 1920s. Most of them feel it is time to retire it completely and allow for better, less restrictive regulations to take its place.
The day when a ship may leave a port in New York without a crew member aboard is out there, although the exact date is still up in the air. According to IEEE Spectrum, designers are currently working on the technology to make unmanned cargo ships a reality, and trial runs have even been held. Proponents believe the safety benefits of a ship controlled by robotic and remote means could eliminate the thousands of mariner deaths each year.
Working on a tugboat in New York Harbor presents unique challenges and hazards, as these vessels are designed to push or pull other vessels from place to place. Equipment and duties on a tugboat may put seamen at risk in cases of negligence, such as improperly performed maintenance or inadequate training for the jobs at hand.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety for New York seamen in the maritime industry, as well as employees who work on land. Not only does this include preventing injuries, OSHA also has hazard communication rules that require employers to protect workers from chemical exposure. One of these that is mentioned specifically in relation to the maritime industry is chromium.
Any New Yorker who is injured on the job should have some recourse for receiving compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, the workers’ compensation laws that apply to employers in the state are not the same as those that apply to maritime employers. According to the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Circuit, a seaman who sustains an injury because of the employer’s negligence may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim.