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Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

The borders of the United States are marked according to many geological features, including two large oceans. However, the borders of the United States extend into these oceans per the Outer Continental Shelf. The Outer Continental Shelf offers jurisdiction to the United States and various states for several miles outside the coastline. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act refers to the extension of federal law to apply to the subsoil and seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf.

What is the Outer Continental Shelf?

The United States and various states along the coast have distinct units of measurement which determine the jurisdiction of state and federal law. State jurisdiction in Texas and the gulf coast of Florida extend to three marine leagues, or nine nautical miles from the baseline. The jurisdiction for Louisiana, on the other hand, extends three imperial nautical miles, with each imperial nautical mile measuring 6,080 feet from the baseline. The jurisdiction for all other states along the Gulf Coast extends to three nautical miles (approximately 3.3 miles) outside the baseline.

Federal jurisdiction is carefully defined within international law, with the limit at the farthest of 200 nautical miles from the baseline. However, if the continental shelf exceeds 200 nautical miles, the jurisdiction can extend to a further distance up to 350 nautical miles from the baseline.

As is clear, the jurisdictional limits become complicated the farther out a vessel gets from the coastline and therefore an experienced maritime law professional is the best person to turn to in determining what jurisdiction an injury falls within.

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act was implemented in 1953 and extended federal law to apply to the subsoil and seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf. However, the Act additionally provided for a more thorough recovery so that adjacent state law will apply to any civil or criminal issues which occur in this region. Therefore, any incidents which occur in this area falls within federal law and are supplemented by the adjacent state’s civil and criminal laws. The Act thereby dictates which law will apply in the region – federal or state. Various court decisions have fleshed out the broad scope of the Act, and an experienced maritime law attorney will be able to fully understand the law under which your injury falls within.

Malley Law Firm | Houston Maritime Lawyer

If you have been injured in an offshore accident several miles off the coast of a state, you may be eligible to bring a claim under federal or state law, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Tony Malley is an experienced maritime attorney who has helped many clients recover amounts owed to them for injuries received in offshore accident. Contact our Texas offices today for your initial free consultation.

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