Glossary of Maritime Terms

maritime-glossaryBarge – A barge is a large boat with a flat bottom that is used to transport material along rivers, canals or any other navigable inland waterways. Barges are usually moved along waterways by a tug or towboat because most do not have their own means of propulsion.

Crew – The personnel aboard a vessel, excluding the master and officers and the passengers on passenger ships. The crew contributes to the function and operation of the vessel. Examples of crewmembers can include deckhands, roughnecks and engineers.

Deckhand – Seaman who works on the deck of a vessel and assists the vessel’s officers during navigation and maneuvering.

Featherweight Burden of Proof – The featherweight burden of proof refers to the fact that a seaman need only prove negligence in the slightest on the part of his employer in causing his injury in order to recover under the Jones Act.

Jones Act – The Jones Act is a federal statute passed by Congress in 1920 that creates rights for injured seaman. Under the Act, a seaman may sue his employer for negligence.

Judgment – A judgment is an order issues by the court at the end of a lawsuit. The judgment sets for the terms and conditions for the parties to follow.

Maintenance and Cure – Under the Jones Act, seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure. “Maintenance” is daily allowance to cover the basic food and shelter that workers, officers, seamen or crewmembers would have received aboard the vessel while on duty. “Cure” includes medical expenses such as treatment, hospital expenses, doctor visits, physical therapy, prescription medication and any other treatment necessary to ensure maximum medical improvement.

Seaman – A seaman is a member of a ship’s crew. Under the Jones Act, a seaman is a member of a ship’s crew who contributes to the function and operation of a vessel.

Semisubmersible – A ship able to submerge part of itself to load or discharge cargo that can be floated on or off. Usually semi submersible ships are heavy-duty vessels, such as rigs.

Statute of Limitations – The statute of limitations refers to the deadline for filing a claim in a court of law. The statute of limitations for Jones Act claims is 3 years from the date of the injury or the date of discovery of the injury. However, there are some instances where even less time is allowed.

Tanker – A tanker is a bulk carrier designed to transport liquid cargo, most often petroleum products. Oil tankers vary in size from small coastal vessels of 1,000 tons deadweight, through medium-sized ship of 60,000 tons, to the giant VLCCs (very large crude carriers).

Towboat – a towboat is a vessel designed to tow barges along inland waterways. Towboats are often considered small when compared to the tow they can transport.

Tug/Tugboat – A tugboat is a vessel designed for towing or pushing other vessels through waterways. Generally, tugboats pull vessels.

Unseaworthiness – A vessel is “unseaworthy” if it is unfit for its intended purpose. Under the Jones Act and maritime law, a vessel owner has a duty to provide safe equipment and supplies, a properly staffed crew and a well-trained crew. If a vessel owner breaches this duty, a seaman may sue the vessel owner for any injury resulting from the unseaworthiness of the vessel.

Vessel – The term vessel has been liberally interpreted by the Courts. The Jones Act applies to virtually every vessel or boat on navigable waters. Even floating platforms, rigs and docks have been interpreted as “vessels” under the Jones Act.

Handling a Jones Act or maritime case can be a complex matter, it is important to ensure that you consult with an experienced attorney who has handled these cases. For more information regarding your case, please contact Pierce | Skrabanek for a free case evaluation. All cases are handled on a contingency basis. Pierce | Skrabanek has received millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for clients who have been injured offshore.