Maritime law, also referred to as Admiralty Law, consists of the statutes and case precedents that govern legal disputes on navigable waters. Navigable waters include all bodies of water that can be used for interstate or foreign commerce. Thus, a large river that flows into the ocean or crosses state lines would fall within maritime jurisdiction. A lake entirely within a single state would not.

A Maritime Lawyer deals with many legal situations and is best qualified to represent you in maritime cases like seamen accidents, cargo damage, naval piracy, liens against vessels, towage contracts, injuries, and wake damage.

Maritime cases are heard in federal court. Alternatively, a plaintiff may elect to file suit in state court, but federal law will still apply. Congress enacts maritime laws following its constitutional authority to regulate commerce with foreign countries and between the states.

The primary activity conducted in the open ocean is shipping cargo. Following an accident where goods have been lost or destroyed, litigation can arise between the owner of the lost shipment and the carrier. In cases of foreign trade, if the American law governs the contract, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) applies. Under this law, the carrier is only liable for up to $500 per container if the cargo was loaded correctly and stowed.

Admiralty Law also deals with disputes concerning salvage awards. These cases involve boats, ships, or other property that have been saved from peril or recovered from the bottom of the ocean. By law, the salvager is entitled to a reward for taking the risks necessary to conduct the salvage. The size of the prize may be determined by contract. Otherwise, courts will decide based on factors such as the value of the property and the degree of risk involved.

Compensation for Injured Passengers and Seamen

Personal Injury cases which involve maritime law raise unique issues. In most cases, the time limit for filing a lawsuit will be one year instead of three, and notice may be required in as little as six months. Only an experienced maritime injury attorney will know how to handle such claims.

But recovering compensation for injured sailors, covered under maritime law, can be even more complex than a workers' compensation claim. Usually, an employer for the injured person will be a naval business, such as a shipping vessel, and if the employer or worker cannot agree on an amount of money that should be paid as compensation, maritime courts can step in to resolve the difference through a trial.

If the Jones Act applies to your situation, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent party.

The Jones Act is a statute that provides specific legal rights and procedures for those injured while at work, including the right to receive monetary rewards. If you are injured at work, contact your local Jones Act attorney, who can help guide you through the process.

Employees who cannot qualify as seamen under the Jones Act still have other means available to collect injury compensation. The "Doctrine of Unseaworthiness" imposes a legal duty on ship owners to maintain their vessels properly. If they fail to do so, this rule will render them liable for any resulting injuries to crew members.

Laws governing maritime commerce and marine activities are known as maritime or admiralty laws. This body of law and regulation covers various subjects and questions, including shipping, vessels and crews, cargo damage, and injuries to passengers and workers on fishing boats and other ships at sea.