Maritime Attorneys - General Maritime Law
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
Modern maritime law is a combination of ancient rules that originated in early Mediterranean seafaring nations and newer laws. It covers anyone who engages in activities on the water in the event of injury.
A seafaring vessel is generally subject to the territorial jurisdiction of the waters it traverses, regardless of its nationality, the nationality or residence of its owners, or whether or wherever it may be registered. When a vessel is arrested, it is usually by the court to retain jurisdiction. State owned vessels are typically immune from arrest.
In most common law countries, English statutes and case laws are followed. Countries that do not follow English statutes and case laws often have established maritime courts that decide international cases. Principles of maritime law that may be addressed include:
- Injuries to seamen and passengers (seaworthiness, maintenance and cure, and common law negligence against a third party)
- The shipowner's liability
- Maritime liens and mortgages
- Cargo claims
- Treasure and other kinds of salvage
In the U.S., although federal courts have jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime matters, many lawsuits involving such matters can be brought in either federal or state court. State courts hearing admiralty or maritime cases, however, must apply federal admiralty and maritime law, regardless of whether it conflicts with the law of the state.
Various federal acts and state laws cover different classifications of individuals involved in maritime-related activities. Those that address wrongful death and injuries transpiring at or near waterways, movable drilling platforms, and other bodies of water include:
- The Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920)
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA)
- The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
- States' workers' compensation laws
- Common law, including wrongful death and third party negligence
As you can see, there is a complicated web of international, federal, state, and local laws that apply to wrongful death or injuries involving maritime activity. For this reason, if you or a loved one is injured or killed at or near a body of water, it is imperative that you seek counsel from someone well versed and experienced in both maritime and personal injury law.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney for an evaluation of your case.