What Is Maritime Law?

Maritime law is an expansive area of law that encompasses a broad range of issues including, but not limited to, injuries, contracts, maritime mortgages and the construction and repair of ships. It is often a highly specialized field of law, and its practitioners require significant specialized knowledge and experience.

Maritime laws and practices began to take shape long before the development of the modern world. A need for fair trade practices and a way to remedy mishaps or accidents on vessels led to the development of a system that could be enforced through courts or tribunals.

These legal entities are known as admiralty courts and are able to handle many types of judicial matters. Disputes involving maritime law include private maritime quests, contracts, torts, criminal cases, death, cargo losses and damages, and insurance claims. These disputes are regulated by the Maritime Code (The Law of the Sea) framed through international conventions and agreements among member states, whose local coast guards are responsible for enforcing these agreements and establishing their own regulations.

One of the most important aspects of maritime law is maintenance and cure, which provides injured seamen with compensation while they are unable to work. The obligation to cure requires a company or ship owner to pay for all medical expenses related to an injury, from doctor and hospital bills to prescriptions and CT scans. It also extends to a seaman’s needs for everyday living, including transportation to and from doctors and medical equipment like wheelchairs. This law also extends to injured workers working in harbors, ports and shipyards.

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