Maritime law, sometimes called admiralty law, refers to the United States laws and regulations governing activities in any navigable waters or the open sea.(Navigable Waters: are waters that provide a channel for commerce and transportation of people and goods.) Maritime laws are federal laws to which the federal court system has jurisdiction over. These laws provide maritime workers and the U.S. merchant marine industry with protection by allowing workers to seek compensation for any injuries suffered offshore or in the maritime industry. This can include accidents that occur on large commercial or fishing vessels, crab boats, barges, container ships, tugboats, crew boats, cargo ships, or other moveable vessels. In 1979 The U.S. Supreme Court created four tests for determining what constitutes navigable waters. Established in Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 100 S. Ct. 383, 62 L. Ed. 2d 332, the tests ask whether the body of water (1) is subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, (2) connects with a continuous interstate waterway, (3) has navigable capacity, and (4) is actually navigable. Using these tests, courts have held that bodies of water much smaller than lakes and rivers also constitute navigable waters. Even shallow streams that are traversable only by canoe have met the test.
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