Maritime law protects workers on the oceans from workplace injuries and accidents. While maritime injuries are generally the result of negligence or an accident, there are cases that can be taken to state or federal court. Personal injury and product liability cases are most commonly brought in federal courts, although some maritime injuries can be brought in state courts as well. Maritime lawyers must be savvy about the rules of concurrent jurisdiction, as the state courts apply their own procedures to maritime cases.
In addition to individual state laws, maritime law is also subject to international conventions. Some of these treaties require that vessels carrying workers’ personal belongings or cargo must adhere to specific legal requirements. While these laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, many of them are broadly accepted worldwide. For example, the United States has a system of admiralty law, which evolved from British admiralty courts in its colonies. Furthermore, international maritime law is codified and overseen by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Maritime law is often used in international trade and commerce.
Maritime law also regulates contracts and provides for the enforcement of them. Many maritime law clauses provide damages to a party that suffers a loss. In addition, the law also recognizes a general average. This means that if the master of the ship has to sacrifice the life of one of its crew members in order to protect the interests of the other parties in the venture, the general average may prevent further damages and losses.