Long Beach Maritime, Transportation And Business Law Blog

Insurance, business law and litigation

Insurance plays an important role in every industry. California business owners may have a variety of insurance policies to cover a myriad of issues. When companies pay their premiums, they expect their insurance companies to protect them when needed. Unfortunately, many business law and litigation issues arise out of insurance disputes.

California business owners may need more help than their insurance companies can provide them if they are looking at liability from a first or third party. The fact is that most insurance companies will at least attempt to either deny or delay claims despite their customers consistently paying their premiums. This could mean that your company could be on its own when defending against a claim due to an accident at sea, a trucking accident or a train derailment.

A partnership agreement is a critical part of business formation

When California entrepreneurs begin a new venture together, they will need to choose the type of entity under which they will operate. For those who choose a partnership, it is crucial that they take care of all business formation matters promptly and properly. One of those tasks is to draft and execute a partnership agreement.

What goes into this agreement will dictate the relationship between or among the partners, how the business will operate, and under what circumstances the partners may amend the agreement. This document will also serve as the contract to refer back to in case a dispute arises. For these reasons, it is important to make sure that the partnership agreement contains as much detail as possible.

Using ADR in licensing or regulatory disputes with the CPUC

Companies who work in the state's maritime industry may already know that they could have some dealings with the California Public Utility Commission. Those dealings may not always be amicable, and a business could end up involved in licensing or regulatory disputes with the agency. If that happens, it may be possible to resolve those issues through alternative dispute resolution.

When requesting ADR for a dispute, the parties agree to abide by some basic principles. The parties must enter into the process voluntarily. The administrative law judge may require the parties to participate in settlement conferences, attend facilitated workshops or explore the feasibility of ADR with a neutral. third party.

Have you heard of the Death on the High Seas Act of 1920?

Like people across the country, some Long Beach residents take cruises. Other people may charter smaller boats for their vacations. What happens if someone dies as the result of negligence while on one of these vessels during those trips? The answer may lie in the Death on the High Seas Act of 1920.

If the death occurred at least three nautical miles from one of the country's shores, surviving family members may turn to the act for restitution. The safety of you and your family should be the top priority of the cruise ship or other recreational vessel. Unfortunately, slip and falls, assaults and other serious or fatal accidents do happen.

Make sure your freight contracts only cover what you need

Once a California business is off the ground, it will probably need help transporting the goods. More than likely, the business will need to work with a freight carrier in order to get that done. When negotiating freight contracts, it is crucial that a company only pay for what it needs, which means understanding what that is.

The company will need to gather some information about the business before sitting down to work out a contract. Asking some questions in order to know what to look for is a good first step. For example, will the shipments remain local, or will they go across country?

Choosing an entity for a new maritime or transportation business

Starting a new business requires taking numerous steps prior to opening your doors. One potentially critical decision you will need to make is choosing an entity structure. This is just one of many considerations you will need to address when starting a new maritime or transportation business here in California or elsewhere.

The entity structure you choose should provide you with protection from personal liability for the debts and other obligations of the company. Under ordinary circumstances, you should not have to worry about whether your personal assets are at risk. If you have partners, they would also more than likely appreciate an entity structure that protects them from liability.

California ports are struggling to remain competitive

The price of everything is going up, and it affects nearly every business, including the state's maritime industry. Even California ports are struggling to stay competitive when it comes to leasing space. One of the primary reasons is the Clean Air Action Plan.

Energy prices continue to rise, especially herein California. As of Oct. 2019, diesel fuel costs here in the state were around 37.8% more than anywhere else in the country. As of the end of August, prices for industrial electricity were up to 102.9% higher and commercial electricity was approximately 63.6% more. It is difficult to sell space for cargo in a port where tenants will pay more due to these costs.

Cybersecurity lapses in the maritime industry may cause injuries

Nearly every industry relies on technology in some fashion these days. The maritime industry is no exception, which makes it as vulnerable to cyberattacks as any other industry here in California or elsewhere. Those attacks could put workers in danger, cause damage to property, cause damage to the economy and potentially expose the environment and people to hazardous pollutants.

Lapses in cybersecurity can lead to lost cargo. Even ships could be lost depending on the nature of the problem. Any number of things could be smuggled into the country, such as weapons of mass destruction, people or other weapons. Of course, all of these potential issues could arise, but it is the harm to those who work on ships, on docks and in other supporting roles in the maritime industry that should matter the most to their employers.

What is the function of the Federal Maritime Commission?

The federal government closely regulates the movement of goods in and out of the nation's ports, including those here in California. One of the regulatory agencies anyone in the industry must deal with is the Federal Maritime Commission. Understanding its role in the import and export of goods may help companies to remain in compliance with its regulations. 

The FMC is responsible for the country's international ocean transportation system. Its goal is to keep the industry reliable and competitive. It also exists to help safeguard the public from deceptive and unfair practices. The agency reviews and monitors contracts to make sure there are no substantial, unfair or unnecessary decreases in transportation services or increases in costs.

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