Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is a specialized area of law that deals with legal issues that arise from shipping, navigation, and commerce on the high seas. It is a complex and often overlapping area of law that involves both federal and international law, as well as the law of individual countries and states.
Maritime law covers a wide range of topics, including shipping contracts, cargo liability, marine insurance, the carriage of goods by sea, and the rights and duties of shipowners and seafarers. It also covers issues related to the construction, operation, and maintenance of vessels, as well as environmental regulations and pollution control.
In addition to these issues, maritime law also addresses disputes that may arise between nations over the use of the oceans and navigable waterways, such as territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. It also includes provisions for the settlement of disputes through international tribunals and other forums.
Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is a body of legal rules that govern ships, shipping, or actions occurring on “navigable waters.” Navigable waters are any waters that are used to transport people or perform commerce.
Maritime law is administered by the U.S. government in waters controlled by the United States. This is in contrast to the maritime laws of other sovereign nations, or the internationally recognized Law of the Sea that rules over waters outside the domain of any nation.
Maritime and admiralty law govern a number of rules and regulations for aquatic vessels and activities within their jurisdiction. Any injuries or deaths that occur on a ship are the domain of maritime law along with any criminal activities occurring on the ocean. Additionally, any insurance claims for cargo or ships lost at sea would fall under the domain of maritime law. There are also maritime laws handling the filing of civil lawsuits.
In general there are two types of maritime injuries: professional and civilian. Professional injuries apply to anyone who was working as a laborer on the ocean and suffered some injury. By contrast, civilian injuries occur to individuals who are clients, guests, or other individuals on the ocean for reasons other than the performance of their jobs. An example of a civilian injury would be a slip and fall that occurred on a cruise ship.
Professional injuries are most often classified by the kind of law that they are using to claim compensation. Death on High Seas Act claims are benefits that can be claimed by the estate of a worker who died as the result of a wrongful act, neglect or default that occurred more than three miles from shore. Jones Act claims award benefits to workers who prove that their injury occurred while on the job due to the negligence of another person. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) claims can be filed by individuals who either work on navigable waters or in an area near navigable waters such as a harbor. Finally, there are Maintenance and Cure claims which are generally applicable to any accident that occurred while the victim was working. Each claim type has distinct advantages and disadvantages as well as a specific statute of limitations.
According to the Justice Department, maritime law applies to any incident occurring on navigable waters, on any vessel belonging in any part to the U.S. or a citizen of the U.S., or on a vessel belonging to a corporation created under the laws of the United States. This means that any body of water that can support commerce and either crosses state boundaries or empties into the ocean counts as navigable and any vessel traveling on those waters is under the jurisdiction of maritime law.
This gives the U.S. government broad authority over waterways within its domain. In some cases, states may assert that they have jurisdiction over a case occurring within its borders. In those cases, the judge will examine which entity has better standing to claim jurisdiction.
Maritime law is a distinct area of law that is separate from other areas of law such as criminal law, contract law, and tort law. It is governed by a combination of federal and international law, as well as the laws of individual countries and states.
Maritime law is enforced by a variety of agencies and organizations, including national navies, coast guards, and other law enforcement agencies. International organizations such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) also play a role in enforcing maritime law.
Maritime courts handle a wide range of cases, including disputes over shipping contracts, cargo damage and loss, personal injury and death, salvage and towage, and environmental damage. In addition to these types of cases, maritime courts also hear cases involving piracy, smuggling, and other crimes on the high seas.
Admiralty lawyers play a key role in the field of maritime law, representing clients in a wide range of cases that arise in the shipping and maritime industry. Admiralty lawyers may represent shipowners, cargo owners, insurance companies, and other parties with an interest in a maritime dispute. They may also represent individuals who have been injured on a vessel, or who have lost a loved one in a maritime accident.