Maritime law covers all occurrences that take place on navigable waters. These waters include the high seas and any bays or inlets that are used for travel or trade. They also include rivers and lakes between states. Although navigable waters are defined broadly, not all waters of the world are within the jurisdiction of the United Nations’ admiralty.
Maritime law has its roots in ancient history. Rhodian Law, which governed the seas around Rhodes, is thought to be the earliest known example of maritime law. Though aspects of maritime law have changed since then, the basic premise of protecting maritime cargo and workers has remained the same. The history of maritime law is filled with examples from the Middle Ages and beyond.
Maritime law protects civilian passengers on ships from wrongful death and property damage. If you have been injured on a ship, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if the ship owner’s negligence was the cause of the injury. Maritime law also has special considerations, such as a three-year statute of limitations. This statute of limitations can dramatically reduce your claim if you read the fine print.
Federal courts have jurisdiction over maritime disputes. Federal courts generally do not allow jury trials in admiralty cases. However, certain cases may be brought in state courts if they involve state common law tort claims.