Maritime law is an interesting mix of ancient legal theories, modern statutes, contract law and international treaties. It regulates shipping, navigation, commerce, towage and recreational boating on domestic and international waters.
Often referred to as Admiralty law, maritime law is an area of law that governs maritime activities such as shipping and navigation. It also includes laws and regulations related to maritime insurance contracts, liens and seamen.
Federal jurisdiction over maritime claims varies by type of dispute. The most common are:
Injury & Wrongful Death
If an individual sustains injury, death or damages as the result of a vessel’s operation or conduct on navigable water, the victim may have a claim for compensation. Depending on the jurisdiction, this claim may be brought in a federal court with admiralty jurisdiction or in a state court with diversity jurisdiction.
Bills of Lading (BOL)
A BOL is a contract to transport goods by sea. It is governed by a body of maritime law that provides for a limitation of liability and an effective remedy to those injured through the conduct of the carrier.
Maritime law generally treats oral contracts as valid, so long as they are sufficiently related to peculiarly maritime concerns. However, it does not apply to contracts of a non-traditional nature such as those involving the sale of land-based commodities.
Jones Act & Seamen Rights
The Jones Act is a set of federal laws that protects seamen in the United States. The statute is an important piece of maritime law that provides legal remedies for injured seaman and their family members. The Jones Act has been interpreted to protect seamen from a variety of injuries, including those caused by the negligence of a ship’s captain or crewmember.