Maritime Law

maritime law

Maritime law is highly specialized and differs greatly from general contract or injury laws. Without the guidance of an experienced attorney, it is easy to run afoul of maritime laws and find yourself in serious legal trouble – even for actions that would not be illegal under other bodies of law. In many cases, federal law takes precedence over state laws.

A large portion of maritime law deals with property rights. One of the most important laws is admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, which confers special court jurisdiction over cases involving ships or their cargo. A court may exercise admiralty and maritime jurisdiction in six different types of cases:

Admiralty courts are also responsible for interpreting the laws of the sea. In the United States, most of these courts are located in the District of Columbia. They are responsible for deciding cases involving shipwrecks, salvage, and other maritime matters. They can also decide claims involving slander and libel arising out of maritime incidents, as well as issues pertaining to the operation and maintenance of vessels.

Another significant portion of maritime law involves personal injury and accident lawsuits. These lawsuits are brought against ship owners for injuries sustained by civilian passengers on board. Often, such injuries are the result of negligence on the part of the ship owner. Civilian passengers are generally subject to a three-year statute of limitations within which they must bring suit against the ship owner.

Lastly, maritime law includes the doctrine of maintenance and cure. This doctrine requires a ship owner to provide medical care free of charge to an injured seaman until he reaches the “maximum possible medical cure.” It is an important doctrine that helps maritime workers in their recovery from work-related accidents and injuries.

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