Maritime law is a body of laws, conventions, and treaties that govern private maritime business and other nautical matters. It covers international waters and is often called admiralty law or the Law of the Sea.
Various types of claims and disputes arise in maritime law, including insurance, cargo, products liability, and wrongful death. It also applies to the navigation and shipping of vessels, and it governs actions that can be taken against ships and their owners.
The jurisdiction of maritime courts is broader than that of other courts, as it encompasses all navigable waters within the United States, whether American or foreign, and includes any marine activity related to interstate commerce. In addition, it can also be applied to nonmaritime activities that involve the United States or a foreign country, such as recreational boating and piracy.
A maritime lawyer’s practice includes representing shipowners, charterers, and operators, and their hull insurers. He may also handle litigation against P and I clubs, and he is frequently in-house counsel to ship owning companies.
Maritime lawyers typically work in port cities, such as New York, Houston, and New Orleans, as well as other areas with large shipping industries. Those who pursue their legal careers in this area of the law often have a background in shipping and a law school degree.
Seamen and their families have the right to sue their employers for personal injuries suffered in the course of their maritime employment under the Jones Act. This includes maintenance and cure benefits until workers reach maximum medical improvement.