For maritime law, administrative claims might be the critical first step an injured party must file before filing a suit against the United States. It can also act as a general step before litigation. In some cases, such as under the Admiralty Jurisdiction Extension Act, an administrative claim must be filed by the individual with the responsible federal agency before any kind of lawsuit can happen.
A case falls under admiralty jurisdiction if an accident happens on navigable waters of the United States and involves some aspect of maritime commerce. The procedure of filing an administrative claim works as an alternative to litigation.
The requirement to file an administrative claim first comes from the Admiralty Jurisdiction Extension Act (AJEA). This Act covers causes of action for vessel-caused damage done or consummated on land.
Interestingly enough, the administrative claim requirement does not extend to causes of actions and claims that fall under other acts, such as the Public Vessels Act (PVA) or the Suits in Admiralty Act (SAA).
The administrative claim mandate was created for a few policy reasons:
Administrative claim filings are a jurisdictional requirement. If it is not satisfied, the injured party’s suit automatically gets dismissed.
Under the AJEA, an administrative claim must be filed. The injured party has to submit a written notice of claim to the agency responsible for the damage before filing suit in district court. Filing a suit can only happen six months after presenting the administrative claim. Both of these actions must occur before the statute of limitations is up. The statute of limitations dictates how much time someone has to bring legal proceedings forward after an event happens. In this case, it is two years.
When filing an administrative claim, claimants should have a single standard for presenting it that is common to all of the statutes that may be relevant. To be safe, the claim should be compliant with other statutes.
There is no particular form that needs to be used in filing, but most agencies request Standard Form 95. Other requirements include:
The claim needs to be presented to the federal agency that owns or operates the maritime vessel where the damage or injury occurred.
In the original filing, claimants must present the following information:
The more information the better. If anything is missing, the agency can request for more information to be added. They can also dismiss the claim.
Filing an administrative claim may seem filled with must-remember details, which is why having an attorney guide you through the process is helpful for your claim.