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Admiralty and maritime law

Admiralty or maritime law is the substantive and procedural law that governs navigation and shipping on the navigable waters of the United States—including claims for personal injury and property damage.

Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution grants original jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime matters to U.S. federal courts, but that jurisdiction is not exclusive, and most maritime cases can be heard in state or federal courts under the “saving to suitors” clause in 28 U.S.C. §1333.

In Texas, as in other states, admiralty or maritime law applies to legal issues related to navigation and shipping on navigable waters. This body of law covers a range of matters, including personal injury and property damage claims that arise on or near the water. The U.S. Constitution provides federal courts with original jurisdiction over these maritime cases, but the 'saving to suitors' clause allows for most maritime matters to also be heard in state courts. This means that parties may choose to file maritime cases in Texas state courts, which can apply federal maritime law alongside state law principles, unless there is a specific aspect of the case that requires federal court jurisdiction. It's important for parties involved in maritime disputes in Texas to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable in both federal maritime law and relevant Texas statutes to determine the most appropriate venue and legal strategies for their case.

Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code - Section 15.021. Admiralty or Maritime Law
This statute is relevant because it outlines the applicability of Texas law to admiralty and maritime cases, which can be heard in state courts due to the 'saving to suitors' clause.

The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code provides that the laws of Texas apply to maritime cases to the extent that they are not inconsistent with federal admiralty laws. This means that when a maritime case is brought to a Texas state court, the court will apply Texas law in conjunction with federal admiralty law, unless there is a conflict. In case of a conflict, federal admiralty law will prevail.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Code - Title 4. Water Safety
This code is relevant as it governs the safety regulations and requirements for watercraft and water safety in Texas, which can include aspects of maritime law.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Code sets forth regulations regarding the operation, equipment, and registration of vessels on Texas waters. It includes provisions for the safety of the public and the environment, such as rules for the prevention of accidents and the operation of vessels to avoid injury. While not exclusively an admiralty law, it is applicable to maritime activities within Texas navigable waters and can intersect with maritime law cases, particularly those involving personal injury or property damage.

Texas Natural Resources Code - Title 3. Oil and Gas
This code is relevant to maritime law as it includes regulations on the exploration, development, and production of mineral resources in Texas, which can affect maritime activities and claims.

The Texas Natural Resources Code governs the exploration and production of oil and gas in the state of Texas, including operations that may take place offshore within state territorial waters. It includes provisions for leasing, drilling, and production, as well as environmental protections. When maritime activities involve the oil and gas industry, such as on drilling rigs or platforms, this code may be relevant to any legal claims or disputes arising from those activities.

Texas Transportation Code - Title 4. Navigation
This code is relevant as it includes statutes that govern the navigation of vessels and shipping in Texas, which are key components of maritime law.

The Texas Transportation Code contains statutes that regulate the navigation of waterways within the state, including the marking of channels, removal of obstructions, and the operation of vessels. It is designed to ensure safe and efficient transportation on Texas waters. These regulations are relevant to maritime law as they can affect the rights and responsibilities of parties involved in navigation and shipping, and may come into play in maritime legal disputes.

Federal Statutes & Rules

28 U.S.C. § 1333 - Admiralty, maritime and prize cases
This statute outlines the jurisdiction of the federal courts over admiralty and maritime matters, as well as the 'saving to suitors' clause.

28 U.S.C. § 1333 grants federal district courts original jurisdiction over any civil case of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction, any case relating to any prize brought into the United States, and any seizure under laws of import, export, navigation, or trade of the United States, where the seizure is made on waters navigable from the sea by vessels of ten or more tons burden. The 'saving to suitors' clause in this statute preserves the right of litigants to pursue common law remedies in state courts, allowing for in personam actions (against a person) to be brought in state courts, while still recognizing the federal courts' jurisdiction over in rem actions (against a vessel).

46 U.S.C. § 30101 - Extension of jurisdiction to cases of injury to persons or property
This statute extends admiralty and maritime jurisdiction to cases involving injury or damage, not caused by a vessel, on navigable waters.

46 U.S.C. § 30101 extends the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction to include all cases of damage or injury, to person or property, caused by a vessel on navigable water, even if the injury or damage is done or consummated on land. This provision ensures that federal admiralty law covers incidents where the nexus of the injury or damage is related to maritime activity, even if the actual harm occurs ashore.

46 U.S.C. § 30104 - Personal injury to or death of seamen
This statute provides the basis for seamen to recover for personal injuries under the Jones Act.

46 U.S.C. § 30104, commonly known as the Jones Act, allows a seaman who suffers personal injury in the course of employment to bring a civil action at law, with the right to trial by jury, against the employer. Claims under the Jones Act are based on negligence and require the seaman to prove that the employer's negligence played a role in the injury. This statute is a significant part of maritime law as it provides protections to seamen that are not typically available under general maritime law, which does not allow for jury trials or the same level of damages.

46 U.S.C. § 30501 - General maritime law for maintenance and cure
This statute codifies the general maritime law doctrine of maintenance and cure, which obligates shipowners to care for seamen injured in the service of the ship.

Under 46 U.S.C. § 30501, seamen who are injured while serving on a vessel are entitled to maintenance and cure from their employers. 'Maintenance' refers to a daily living allowance for food and lodging similar to what the seaman would have received while at sea, and 'cure' refers to medical treatment until maximum medical recovery is achieved. This obligation is irrespective of fault and is rooted in the shipowner's duty to provide for the seaman's well-being while in the ship's service.

46 U.S.C. § 30505 - Death on the high seas
This statute provides the right to recover for wrongful death occurring on the high seas beyond territorial waters.

46 U.S.C. § 30505, known as the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), permits recovery for the death of an individual caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas beyond 3 nautical miles from the shore of the United States. The act allows the personal representative of the deceased to bring a civil action in admiralty to recover just compensation for the decedent's spouse, children, or dependent relatives. The recovery is limited to pecuniary losses, which include loss of support, services, lost inheritance, and funeral expenses.

46 U.S.C. § 30511 - Certain admiralty and maritime claims
This statute addresses the right to a jury trial for certain admiralty and maritime claims.

46 U.S.C. § 30511 states that in cases where the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction is concurrent with that of the states, a party may demand a trial by jury to the extent that the law of the state provides for a jury trial in similar cases. This statute is relevant in the context of the 'saving to suitors' clause, as it clarifies the circumstances under which jury trials are available for maritime claims when they are brought in state courts or under state law.

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