Maritime law is the legal body that dictates shipping rules and regulations and deals with claims on the open sea. It is a unique field of law that is governed by specific statutes and case decisions. Ships and barges transporting cargo must adhere to admiralty laws, while sailors who work on boats are protected by the Jones Act and may sue their employers for personal injuries or wrongful death. Insurance claims involving product damage or personal injury on the water are also subject to maritime procedures.
Among the most distinctive aspects of admiralty practice is the proceeding in rem. Unlike most civil lawsuits, which are brought in person against individual defendants, admiralty actions are filed in rem, or against maritime property. The most common form of maritime property is a vessel, but it can include gear and cargo as well. Moreover, unlike most contracts, maritime contracts do not have to be in writing and are usually oral.
Because of the many nuances involved in admiralty law, it’s critical to choose an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer. Choosing the right firm can make all the difference in a successful case. Many firms specializing in this area are located in port cities, such as New York, Houston, and Seattle. These firms have a deep understanding of the legal issues involved in this area and can help their clients achieve their goals in a timely, efficient manner. Several Cleveland-area admiralty lawyers have earned national reputations in the field, including S. Eldridge Sampliner, a famous courtroom advocate for seamen in wage and other disputes that fall within admiralty jurisdiction, and Roger Miller Lee, who taught the first admiralty law class at the Western Reserve University School of Law.