The term maritime law refers to the body of laws and customs governing commerce and navigation on the high seas and navigable waters. In the United States, the maritime law applies to the rights and responsibilities of ships, airships, and ships’ crew members. This body of law reflects the international nature of the sea, and is administered by admiralty courts. Article III of the U.S. Constitution gives federal courts the authority to hear maritime law cases.
Under maritime law, a seaman may be entitled to free medical care during the duration of the trip and any treatment that helps them regain function. These treatments may include wheelchairs, pain medications, and prostheses. A successful seaman compensation claim could also result in compensation for lawyer’s fees and punitive damages, which would compensate a victim for suffering. If an individual is injured on a boat and is unable to work, the surviving family can file a lawsuit to receive monetary compensation for their loss.
Many cases involving ships in international waters are heard by admiralty courts. If the parties cannot agree on a ruling, a dispute can be brought in a federal court. If a federal court declines to hear the case, the state court should be consulted instead. In some instances, a ship owner may be ordered to repay a loan through a maritime law suit. The government can also enforce maritime liens against a ship.