Category Archives: My Blog

Real Stories of Pirates

In modern times, people in first world countries who are never out on the open seas consider pirates and the act of piracy with a flippant attitude or a with a sense of carelessness.  Piracy is more of a thing of the past or an exciting story than it is a real-life occurrence.  The truth is that TV shows and movies make pirates out to be romantic, fun-loving, do-good, slightly addled, or even just marginally mischievous people who aren’t any real threat to others. Most people think nothing more of piracy past that regarding the electronic thievery of music or videos.  Real life pirates exist today…and they’re dangerous!

 

The image of pirates probably looks like the sword-wielding, buccaneer hat donning, rum-drinking, and womanizing sort.  Present-day pirates are much different than their 17th-century counterparts.  Contemporary pirates usually travel in smaller boats and vessels and tend to attack with powerful machine guns and grenades the tankers, cargo ships, and fishing vessels that typically to carry goods they could sell on the black market.  Pirates tend to frequent specific areas, called choke points.  The Panama Canal is a high traffic area for pirates due to the flow of cargo that passes through it between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.  Other choke points exist off the coastlines where there is much instability on the mainland, such as Liberia, Nigeria, and Somalia.

 

The History Channel ran a small segment about a modern day pirate attack on a cruise liner 100 miles off the coast of Somalia on November 5, 2005.  Because cruiseliners have such a large number of eyewitnesses onboard between the passengers and the crew, they are not usually the targets of modern day pirates.  This day, however, passengers awoke to gunshots from three boats filled with Somali pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-launched grenades.  Thankfully, the cruise liner was able to use an LRAD device (long-range acoustic device), which puts out a powerful and obnoxious sound.  The noise caused the pirates to cease, driving their boats away.  

 

Some piracy encounters have fatal results for the victims.  The Tebbutt Kidnapping in September 2011 occurred at a luxury resort on the Kenyan coastline.  Judith and David Tebbutt were beginning a vacation on the luxury resort when armed pirates captured them from the resort.  David died during the struggle and Judith was kept for about six months before her release.  Some think her freedom was due to her family paying a ransom (yes, that still happens).

 

Not all pirates are out to collect items for profit on the black market.  Some pirates are conservationists.  Off the coast of Antarctica in 2013, a militant anti-whaling group named the Sea Shepherd rammed a Japanese whaling ship with their vessel  Their goal was to sabotage the whaling ship and prevent any further whale harvesting.  Even though they did not take booty from the boat, the act of sabotage militant force places this group in the ranks of modern-day pirates.

5 of the Weirdest Things about Admiralty Law

Unclear Course:  5 of the Weirdest Things about Admiralty Law

Admiralty law is one of the most convoluted and specific of all the different types of law.  That’s because there’s no one clear body of law that encompasses all of the different scenarios presented by admiralty law.  Some practitioners focus on trade, commerce and contracts.  Others focus on cruise ship liability.  Still others work with oil rig employees or contractors.  Overall, the practice of admiralty law is one of the more eclectic legal specialties.  Here, however, are five of the strangest things about admiralty law.

  1. Maritime law is technically different from admiralty law. Although the terms are frequently used interchangeably, maritime law and admiralty law are historically different bodies of law.  Admiralty law was traditionally limited to torts (legal wrongs done to a person or entity) and contracts on the high seas.  So if you tripped, fell, and broke your leg on a broken stairwell on the high seas, you’d pursue a claim based on admiralty law.  Maritime law historically referred to all other legal disputes that could arise on the high seas.  The terms, although used interchangeably today, had historically different meanings.
  2. Your citizenship could be a matter of technicalities if you are born on international waters.  If you’re on a cruise and go into labor unexpectedly out in the ocean, the citizenship of your child could (depending upon the country of your origin, your nationality and the laws to which it adheres) depend on the type of flag your ship is flying.  Your child could technically end up a citizen of country foreign to you.  Your child could be a citizen of the flag that your ship is flying.  
  3. Contract is king.  You are from North Carolina.  You board a ship in Miami.  You are injured on a waterslide on the ship that was poorly maintained.  Where do you sue?  What law applies?  You aren’t thinking about these things when you buy your cruise ticket, printed in the smallest yet legally tight language you will ever see.  Your ticket (or boarding pass) will clearly state that by accepting your ticket, you agree to have any and all claims you may wish to bring against the ship litigated in Federal Court in Miami, Florida.
  4. Liability is limited.  Super limited.  What is your recourse against the cruise ship if you sign up for a relaxing massage but end up getting a masseuse with a vengeance who injures you with the roughest, most painful massage of your life?  Nothing.  The cruise line has deemed most onboard service providers as independent contractors.  Therefore, your bone-breaking massage therapist is not their employee and the cruise line cannot be held liable for the torture session.
  5. High crimes on the high seas.  There are no state or federal police officers on cruise ships.  Yes, there is private security hired by the cruise line, but no state agents with police power.  Who decides whether to detain or incarcerate a passenger suspected of criminal activity while the ship is in international waters?  The captain of the ship.

Maritime Injury Settlements 

 

 

Maritime injuries are quite common, especial for workers who may be working upon a vessel that is old or not up to proper standards in terms of work environment safety. Having this in conjunction with long hours working in other dangerous conditions out in the ocean is simply a recipe for disaster.

 

As such, many employers often neglect to pay the proper amount of compensation for their employees who do get injured (leading to eventual lawsuits and settlements). Due to settlements being cheaper and much faster to process, many maritime employees will opt to settle. Therefore, the following is a guide on how to get through this process.

 

Act Quickly

 

After getting injured, it is important to set the wheels in motion as quickly as possible. This involves getting the right medical assistance right away as well as reporting an accident. If your employees, however, denies paying compensation, then you can resort to filing a claim. At this step, you must find an experienced and reliable maritime lawyer; regular lawyers will be unable to help as maritime laws can only be practiced by individuals who are specifically certified in doing so.

 

Determine What You Are Owed

 

After filing a claim you most likely will opt for a settlement. However, before doing so you must determine how much compensation you require. In calculating this you obviously have to take into consideration any medical bills you are both currently paying for as well as any future medical bills you will have to pay for due to the accident. On top of this, depending on how long it will take before you can work, you may also be eligible to receive compensation that covers any lost wages. Lastly, compensation should also include any psychological or emotional trauma.

 

Common Mistakes

 

When fighting for compensation, there are certain things to avoid if you want to maximum compensation you can get. The first mistake is obviously not utilizing the services of a professional, well-experienced maritime lawyer. That’s why it is important to search around and look for reviews before deciding on a lawyer to represent you.

 

The second major mistake is simply accepting the initial offer of compensation from an employer. This offer most times will be much lower than what you could actually gain from a settlement; therefore, speak with your lawyer regarding the maximum compensation you could potentially acquire.

 

The last and most common mistake is simply waiting around for too long. After an incident has occurred, it is important to act quickly. Gaining the right medical treatment, filing your accident, and finding a professional to assist you in filing a case are essential and should not be put off.

 

Anything Else?

 

Injuries and accidents happen, and they most definitely are common when working at sea. That’s why it is best to be prepared in instances if tragedy does strike. Being quick and knowing what you have to do are all important in getting the compensation you deserve.