If you live in Florida, you may have come across the terms maritime law and admiralty law. If you have been involved in an accident or property damage at sea, then you are familiar with these terms. Cases filed under these laws generally require specialist maritime lawyers who understand the intricacies of the law. Let’s take a look at some of the maritime law basics to understand them better.
Often used interchangeably, maritime law and admiralty law broadly cover disputes, cases, and statutes originating in navigable waters. Navigable waters are bodies that are generally used for foreign or interstate commerce. These laws cover various scenarios that range from legal guidelines on accidents in navigable waters to seamen injuries and hazardous material spills. The law also extends to criminal and piracy activities, towage contracts, liens against ships, and recreational boating. Maritime laws are essential for people who work offshore in oil rigs, ships, dredgers, and other vessels. The laws also protect the rights of people employed in shipyards, wharfs, harbors, and shipping terminals. Generally, maritime law falls under the jurisdiction of federal courts and is typically a combination of US and international laws. The variety of these laws dictates the rules and guidelines for all the contract breaches, injuries, and/or criminal offenses that occur in, on, or near navigable waters.
Examples of some of the incidents that are covered under maritime laws are:
Maritime laws can be complex and broad-ranging. Maritime workers mostly use these to protect their rights at sea. Each law has its own statute of limitations. Typically, the statute of limitations under maritime laws is shorter than normal laws, and the affected party is expected to act quickly. Here is a list of some of the laws:
The Act grants employees aboard a ship the right to sue their employers for negligence. A personal injury claim filed under the law should be filed within three years from when the accident occurred, or the employee knows or should have known about their injury.
The law gives the family or other parties claiming interest on behalf of the victim a right to sue for wrongful death. Under the law, these parties are allowed three years to file wrongful death claims. If claims are filed under local state laws, the statute of limitations can be even shorter.
The law gives shore-based maritime workers working on vessels or at fixed stations near navigable waters a right to no-fault benefits through their employers. Under this act, the plaintiff is allowed to file a case within a year from the occurrence of the accident to receive legal compensation. As an alternative, maritime workers can also file for a case a year after their initial Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation claim was terminated.
A vessel or a shipowner is mandatorily required to maintain a certain standard of safety onboard. If an owner fails to do so, employees have the right to hold the owners accountable in a court of law legally. This means that the owner needs to maintain the following standards among other things on the ship or any other vessel:
Shipowners and employers of maritime workers are required to cover certain costs after a worker gets injured or sick while in the ship's service. The employer’s obligation typically ends after the injured worker reaches maximum medical improvement. In that sense, maintenance refers to the cost of food and housing that the employer is obliged to take responsibility for the worker. On the other hand, cure refers to medical bills that include the cost of transportation during medical visits.
Cruise line passenger cases are instances when a passenger on board a cruise suffers an injury and decides to sue the company. Most cruise lines already use language in their tickets to make customers agree to waive the normal three-year statute of limitations to a year. Therefore, passengers on cruise lines must file for legal compensation a year after the accident occurred and send out a notice to the company within six months.
The compensation a victim can receive under maritime law depends on an array of factors. Some of the factors that determine the value of the compensation are:
Accident victims can receive compensation even in case if they are partly at fault and the injury was a mix of the employer’s and the victim’s own negligence.
Hiring a maritime attorney can benefit you in the following ways:
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