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Maritime Law

What Is Maritime Law?

Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, governs activity that takes place on navigable waters such as oceans, rivers, streams and lakes. It also focuses on nautical issues and maritime disputes that may happen on land but are maritime in nature. They cover interactions between ships, shipowner obligations to all its passengers and crew member rights.

It is a complex type of law because exclusive jurisdiction does not always fall under U.S. federal courts. Each case is unique and, depending on the specific claim, brought into either federal or state court. There has been much international maritime law development as well because of the nature of the topic and the need for global uniformity. Our team is well-versed in international laws relevant to maritime cases. This includes import and export regulations and international environmental requirements.

Maintenance and Cure

This is a basic maritime law concept that requires shipowners to provide free medical care to seamen injured while working on the ship until they fully recover. Shipowners must provide the injured with whatever necessary medications or long-term treatments. Maintenance requires shipowners to provide injured seamen with basic living expenses while injured and unable to work.

With personal injuries to passengers, legally, shipowners must provide reasonable care to all their passengers. Although, injured passengers aboard ships must prove the shipowner’s negligence.

Maritime Liens and Mortgages

Liens against ships guarantee payment for seamen, vendors and banks who regularly work with these ships. The ship must be arrested or seized in order to enforce the lien. In the U.S., it must be brought into federal court.

Salvage and Treasure Salvage

This part of the law states that items lost at sea recovered by others entitle the rescuers to claim a salvage award. Contract salvage happens when the property owner and the rescuer, also known as the salvor, enter a contract with an agreed-upon award before salvaging begins.

In pure salvage, no contract exists. Instead, the salvor must bring a claim to court awarded based on the merit of the service and property’s value. There are “high-order” and “low-order” pure salvage claims depending on how much risk is associated with the salvage, which significantly affects the award amount.

How Can a Maritime Law Lawyer Help? 

Maritime lawyers handle unique marine issues such as mass disasters including pollution incidents, toxic torts, personal injuries and class actions. They also provide guidance for vessel sales, shipyard contracts, insurance counseling, new contracts and charters, and any relevant maritime finance decisions.

The right way to file a maritime case depends on numerous factors. For example, the type of case and whether any of the involved parties exhibited negligence. To best protect your rights, consult with experienced lawyers who have maritime knowledge and experience.

Types of Common Maritime Injury Claims

  • Injured seamen
  • Injured longshore and harbor workers
  • Maritime construction worker injuries
  • Fishing boat accidents
  • Injured cruise ship and recreational boat passengers
  • Jones Act claims 

Many maritime law cases involve injury or wrongful death. Federal law governs these claims because state workers’ compensation laws on land do not apply at sea. It is worth noting that the statute of limitations for most maritime cases differs. While some require injured parties to file formal lawsuits within three years, wrongful death claims must be filed within 18 months. Cruise ship cases require claim filings within six months of any incident.

What Is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a U.S. federal law created to control and manage maritime commerce. This law requires items shipped within the U.S. to be transported exclusively on ships built, owned and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This act was established in 1920 and created to stimulate the North American shipping industry. Under the Jones Act, seamen have the power to sue the shipowner for personal injury or wrongful death.

Compensation for Injured Passengers & Seamen

Injured passengers and seamen require specialized marine attorneys who are experts in maritime law because of the unique issues this area of law brings. For seamen hurt on the job, the Jones Act is extremely important in determining what the injured crew member has a legal entitlement to regarding damages and financial compensation.

It helps to create a fair process for seamen and a means for them to still collect compensation from the shipowner. The Doctrine of Unseaworthiness was put in place for shipowners to regularly maintain their vessels. If the ship is not up to par, then shipowners bear liability for any resulting injuries.

Work With an Experienced Local Maritime Law Lawyer

Have you or a loved one experienced a recent injury in a maritime accident? Do you need any type of maritime advice or counseling? Let a sea lawyer fight for your rights to get you what you deserve.

Consult with a dedicated maritime attorney. We have a team of well-regarded and experienced legal advocates who have your back. Allow them to put their experience and tactics to expert use for your case.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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