Admiralty & Maritime Lawyers

By:   Michael A. Winkleman

With over 100 combined years of experience practicing admiralty and maritime law, our attorneys have successfully litigated and negotiated thousands of claims on behalf of plaintiffs that involved personal injury and wrongful death on private vessels, cruise ships, and workplaces in navigable waters. Additionally, we handle marine-related product liability claims, insurance disputes, breach of contract, and all other legal matters that fall under the umbrella of maritime law.All of the lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have extensive experience in maritime and admiralty law and maintain current with regards to recent court decisions, judicial trends, and other changes that could affect your case.

Are You the Victim of a Maritime Injury?

There are many ways to be injured at sea. Cruise line passengers have been known to be injured in the buffet, on the lido deck, by the pool, climbing Jacob’s ladders, by other passengers, or by contracting an illness. Similarly, employees on cruise lines, commercial shipping vessels, oil rigs, and other types of water-based job sites can be injured at sea in a limitless number of ways.

Admiralty and maritime laws seek, at least in part, to protect individuals who have suffered injuries as crewmembers or passengers. Contact our firm immediately to discuss any injuries you’ve suffered while at sea, on inland waters, or in port

What Kind of Cases Does a Maritime Attorney Handle?

Our legal team handles a variety of cases that involve either wrongful death or injuries that occur to passengers, seamen or longshoremen. Federal laws generally govern these types of claims because normal state workers’ compensation laws generally do not apply to work that is done onboard vessels.

The right time to call a maritime attorney is when:

  • Your boat or ship crashes into another vessel, or someone crashed into your boat.
  • You are injured, assaulted or raped while on a cruise ship.
  • When a loved one drowned in a pool aboard a cruise ship or another vessel.
  • A loved one went missing while on a cruise ship.
  • A loved one fell overboard while on a cruise ship.
  • When you are injured as a result of a cruise line shore excursion.
  • A family member died or was injured while working on a fishing boat, drill ship, freighter, cargo ship, yacht, tanker or other vessel.
  • You sustained injuries from a parasailing or jet ski accident.

Cases that Fall Under Maritime and Admiralty Law

Not everyone is aware that their case falls under maritime and admiralty law, but most accidents and other torts occurring on vessels, even vessels in port, are covered under admiralty law, which is often quite different than land-based state and federal laws. What type of claims might be covered under admiralty law? Here are some examples:

  • Cruise Ship Passenger Accidents

    Accidents or injuries caused by rough seas or malfunctioning navigational systems, sickness due to the norovirus, food poisoning, assaults by crew or passengers, slip and fall accidents on gangways or Jacob’s ladders, or any other type of incident that could have or should have been prevented by the cruise line all fall under maritime law and must be handled by a qualified cruise ship passenger injury lawyer.

  • Charter Boats, Private Yachts, and Ferries

    If you hire, pay passage, or are an invited guest on a boat or yacht, the owner and/or operator owes you a duty of care. Any preventable injuries that you sustain as a result of the vessel owner’s failure to uphold their duty of care are normally actionable and covered under maritime and admiralty law.

  • Jones Act Seaman

    If you are employed on a vessel or you work on a vessel when it’s in port, you have legal protections with regard to workplace injuries under the Jones Act. If you are covered under this federal law, you’ll require a Jones Act lawyer to review your case.

  • Oil Rig Workers

    If you work or service an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, your case is covered under admiralty and maritime law.

  • Other Vessels

    While it is nearly impossible to list all of the types of situations that would require the services of a maritime law attorney, any accident occurring aboard ocean vessels, cruise ships, private boats and yachts, ferries, tour boats, barges, riverboats, fishing charters, and ferries that occur on the sea, coastal waters, or inland waterways will usually fall into this category.

This list is not all-inclusive, and there are a plethora of different types of claims that are covered under this area of the law. Generally speaking, most injury-related claims that arise out of an event or accident on the water would fall under admiralty and maritime law. If you’ve been injured on a boat or vessel or if you have a claim that involves a tort or breach of contract at sea, contact the admiralty and maritime lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. today.

When You Need to Hire a Maritime and Admiralty Law Firm

Here are a few of the types of civil cases that require the services of a maritime law attorney:

  • Cruise ship passenger Injuries such as slip and falls or trip and falls
  • Bad medical care at sea
  • Rapes, Assaults, batteries, and sexual crimes committed on a cruise ship (for civil claims)
  • Wrongful death on any vessel or platform
  • Shore excursion injuries
  • Charter boat and yacht accidents
  • Workplace accidents on ships, rigs, and in port

If you have any question as to whether or not your case falls under maritime and admiralty law, contact us for a free evaluation.

Admiralty & Maritime Law Overview

Accidents on vessels are often catastrophic, leaving families struggling with medical bills, emotional distress and lost wages. For more than 40 years, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has been fighting for the rights of injured passengers and crew members.

Our attorneys are leaders in the field of maritime law and have an in-depth knowledge of the Jones Act, seaman’s rights and the laws surrounding cruise ship injuries. If you have been injured while on a cruise ship or working on a vessel, our attorneys are committed to helping you get the compensation that you deserve.

What Constitutes Maritime and Admiralty Law?

At one time, the terms “admiralty law” and “maritime law” had two different meanings. “Admiralty” used to refer to the judicial court in England and the early American colonies that handled legal matters related to shipping. Maritime law emerged to handle cases related to sea travel and commerce. Eventually, the two discrete but closely related practices merged, and the terms associated with them merged into one legal discipline.

As a result, the terms admiralty law and maritime law are now used together or interchangeably. Our practice is so highly focused on cruise ship claims that we often refer to ourselves as cruise ship lawyers practicing cruise ship law.

Unlike some areas of the law that are codified in the federal and state statutes, admiralty and maritime law in the U.S. can fall under the jurisdiction of federal law, state law, international treaties with single or multiple nations, and the common law (which comes from court cases). In addition, state laws can also have an impact on a maritime law case. One interesting aspect of maritime law is that the same case may be argued in a Florida court, a U.S. court, and the court of another state, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. As a result of the interplay between both domestic and foreign laws in maritime cases, there are often gaps in maritime and admiralty law that requires courts to apply laws from various jurisdictions in order to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion to a particular dispute. We pride ourselves on our ability to handle a case where it needs to be filed, worldwide.

Being Compensated Under Maritime and Admiralty Law

If you’re a worker who has been injured on a vessel or oil rig, you will want to seek damages for your medical expenses and lost wages. But what about pain and suffering, diminished work capacity, and other noneconomic expenses. As personal injury lawyers who represent crew members and passengers, we are aware of the damages that you’re entitled to under maritime and admiralty law. Because of the intersection of jurisdictions and the unique nature of all injury cases, your best chances at receiving full and fair compensation is to retain the services of maritime and admiralty law firm that focuses on injuries at sea. Our attorneys have successfully concluded over 3,000 cases for our clients, garnering over $300 million in awards and settlements.

A Sense of Urgency

Due to short deadlines, you have only a small timeframe to take legal action. After the statute of limitations has passed, you cannot file a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries. For cruise ship passengers wishing to file a personal injury claim, the statute of limitations can be as short as one year and require written notification of the claim to be presented to the cruise line within 6 months.

If you were injured on a cruise line, check the language printed on your cruise ticket. The ticket may state that all claims must be filed in Florida, and require cases to be filed within one year of the date of injury.

For maritime seaman’s claims involving personal injury or death, the statute of limitations is generally three years. These statutory filing deadlines mean one thing: you need to act quickly when you are filing a seaman’s claim or a claim against a cruise line. Do not delay in seeking legal assistance.

Your Rights on The Water

Maritime laws afford certain rights to workers employed on a vessel. Seaman rights are set forth in the Jones Act (also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920). The Jones Act enables a seaman who was injured in the course of employment to sue his employer for negligence. Also, the law provides claims against shipowners and vessels themselves for unseaworthiness.

In addition, seamen with the right to transportation, food, shelter, medical care, tips and contract benefits while they are injured or ill.

Learn more about seaman rights:

History of Maritime Law

Maritime law is federal statutory and common law that governs the seas. The United States Constitution grants the federal courts original jurisdiction over this area of law; and the “savings to suitors” clause of the Judiciary Act of 1789 provides concurrent jurisdiction in state courts. Formally only applied to American tidal waters, admiralty laws now apply to any navigable body of water in the United States that a boat can reach – including rivers, harbors, canals, and some lakes.

The laws protect those who are injured within its jurisdiction. Passengers and crewmembers are able to seek compensation for any injuries that occur while on a vessel. Damages can include lost wages, medical expenses and emotional damage. Additionally, many injuries occurring on land which are otherwise related to work on ships or occurring during a cruise are properly within admiralty jurisdiction.

Some people use the terms “maritime” and “admiralty” interchangeably when referring to the specific body of law that governs all ships, such as cruise ships, cargo ships, and all boats (including recreational boats), and barges. Admiralty and maritime law also applies to shipboard workers from Captains to crewmembers.

In short, it covers most if not all persons at sea and any vessels that move and/or navigate from place to place over a body of water. Maritime law covers certain international business, as well as a variety of legal issues that involve shipping or crimes that take place on “navigable” waters. The law also covers recreational boat accidents, jet ski accidents and sports injuries on not only Florida waters but intracoastal waters as well.

Maritime law is often viewed as a difficult area of law that is quite intricate. For example, determining jurisdiction can be a tricky task all on its own. This is because in general, U.S. federal courts have original jurisdiction; however, individuals should note that they do not have exclusive jurisdiction. Accordingly, an injury victim who was hurt in a boating accident may be able to bring his or her case in either state or federal court. Individuals should also note that the law comes with its own distinct set of statutes of limitations. For a large number of cases, injured victims have three years in which to file their lawsuits; otherwise, their claims might be barred.

Conversely, if the case involves cruise ship issues and injuries, notice of claims should be provided to the cruise line within six months of the incident and the lawsuit must be filed within one year in the designated court noted on the passenger’s ticket. These time limitations are critically important. If your case is not filed within these timeframes, you will no longer have a case.

Determining Admiralty Jurisdiction

If an individual has sustained a maritime-related injury, that is, an injury at sea or an injury related to employment at sea, the last thing that he or she is thinking about is whether or not a court has jurisdiction to hear the case. However, your admiralty attorney will tell you that in admiralty law, jurisdiction is very important. Generally speaking, jurisdiction (with respect to the law and the court system) concerns the right or authority of a court to apply and interpret the law as it relates to your case.

Not all courts have the authority to hear and decide every type of case. With respect to admiralty cases, federal district courts are given the power to hear such cases under the U.S. Constitution. Also, in certain situations, a state court is permitted to decide an admiralty case. In cases where both the state and federal courts are authorized to handle the case, the jurisdiction would be referred to as “concurrent” jurisdiction, and you may be able to decide which court you’d prefer to file in.

What You Should Know About Admiralty Jurisdiction

Just about any admiralty attorney knows that making a determination as to whether or not a case is governed by admiralty law and jurisdiction is not as simple as some people think. Just because a vessel of some sort is part of the case or there was some type of event that took place on the water does not always mean that the occurrence automatically triggers admiralty jurisdiction.

Generally, if a case stems from an incident that took place on U.S. “navigable waters” and involves either two vessels crashing or a seaman injury, or a passenger injury on a vessel, the case will likely be subject to admiralty jurisdiction. Moreover, cases in which a crime was committed against an American citizen or vessel on the high seas are generally within admiralty jurisdiction. And with regard to contracts, cases that involve agreements related to the commerce, navigation or business of the sea (as in the case of chartered vessels or carrying cargo) are typically subject to admiralty jurisdiction as well.

What difference does this make? Well, put simply, the body of law that applies to your admiralty case is very different than the law that would apply outside of admiralty. As an example, a slip and fall incident aboard a cruise ship implicates an entirely different set of laws (admiralty laws, also referred to the General Maritime Law), than would a slip and fall in say a CVS or Walgreens. The slip and fall in the convenience store would involve questions of state law, rather than admiralty/maritime law. In the end, these differences in the law can make all the difference in your case and that is why it is imperative to speak an experienced admiralty and maritime attorney regarding your case.

Vessels in Navigation on Navigable Waters

When seeking to establish jurisdiction, certain elements must exist. For instance, if the injured individual is a seaman, he must have been in the service of a vessel that was “in navigation and on navigable waters.” More specifically, vessels in navigation are those that are being utilized as “instruments of transportation and commerce on navigable waters.” Certain courts have expanded the principle of “in navigation” to include even those vessels that are dry docked if those vessels are experiencing minor or routine repairs.

With regard to the concept of “navigable waters,” when it comes to admiralty jurisdiction, water is navigable if it forms a continuous highway that is capable of sustaining foreign and/or interstate commerce either on its own or by combining with other bodies of water. Frankly, it is not always easy for courts to determine whether or not an accident that occurs on navigable waters actually involves some facet of maritime commerce. Still, it is important to ensure that the appropriate federal maritime laws are applied to cases within admiralty jurisdiction because the laws often vary from the state laws, such that the federal laws might actually be more favorable to an individual than the state laws.

Maritime Law FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions – Admiralty and Maritime Law

Admiralty and maritime law is full of complex language, definitions and rules. To help you gain a basic understanding of this challenging area of law, our lawyers have answered some frequently asked questions.

If your question is not included below, you can reach a maritime injury lawyer by contacting us toll-free at (888) 311-9929, or completing our online contact form.

What is maritime and admiralty law?

The terms “maritime” and “admiralty” are virtually synonymous. Maritime and admiralty law is an area of law that regulates issues associated with marine commerce and sea navigation, including negligence and unseaworthiness. This area also extends to civil marine torts and injuries.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a piece of legislation that protects workers on navigable waters who are injured as a result of their employer’s negligence while they are in the service of a vessel – regardless of whether the injury occurs aboard a vessel or on land. It requires employers to provide a safe work environment for seamen. If you are injured while working on a vessel, you can file a Jones Act claim to recover compensation for your injuries.

How do I file a Jones Act claim?

Your attorney can provide you with information and advice on how to file a claim under the Jones Act. The first step is to contact a maritime injury lawyer. Read more about filing a Jones Act claim.

Am I considered a “seaman” under the Jones Act?

A “seaman” is defined as a person who works on a ship or vessel such as a cruise ship, towboat, crew boat, fishing boat, offshore oil rig or dredge. If at least 30 percent of your total work is performed on a vessel, then you are likely classified as a seaman.

What is “unseaworthiness”?

A ship owner must provide a safe working environment including proper safety equipment, qualified crew, proper policies and procedures, and maintaining the vessel and its equipment. If a vessel owner fails to provide a reasonably safe work environment, then the ship may be deemed unseaworthy, allowing an injured seaman to recover damages for unseaworthiness.

I sustained injuries in a maritime accident. Do I qualify for compensation?

If you are a “seaman” (as defined in answer 2 above) and you became ill or injured while in the service of a vessel (regardless of whether you became ill or injured at sea or on land), then you are eligible for maintenance (living expenses), sick wages, and cure (compensation of medical expenses). If you can prove negligence or unseaworthiness, you may also be entitled to other compensation for disability and/or lost wages in the future.

Why do I need an attorney?

A maritime injury lawyer is specifically trained to file and litigate your case. With over 100 years of combined experience in maritime cases, the lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have the industry knowledge and ability to guide you through the process of filing a claim and recovering damages.

Can I afford an attorney?

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A offers consultations free of charge and most often their fees are a percentage of money that they recover for you. Read more about our fees and costs.

What should I do after an accident?

First and foremost you should see a doctor and get the medical care that you need. Keep documentation of all medical bills and expenses. Make a list of any witnesses to the accident. If your employer asks you to give a statement, refrain from doing so until you have contacted an attorney.

As an injured cruise ship passenger what kind of compensation can I receive?

Every case is different, but injured passengers may be eligible to receive compensation for present and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability, and lost wages.

When is the best time to contact a lawyer?

The statute of limitations for maritime law injury cases is generally three years from the date of the injury. However, for cruise line passenger cases, the statute of limitations is further limited by the cruise line ticket to, most often, one year from the date of injury. If you delay beyond the filing deadline, your claim is barred forever. It is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your injury while evidence is fresh.

Can I call you from overseas?

Yes, even if you are injured on international waters, you can contact a maritime injury lawyer at our firm from overseas.

Maritime and Admiralty Law Firm for Clients All Over the World

Working from our main office in Miami, FL, our maritime and admiralty law firm handles cases all over the world. We have the resources, experience, and connections with law firms in other countries needed to accommodate clients with claims arising in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, other parts of the Americas, and in international waters.

Cruise lines, shipping companies, and oil companies employ legions of attorneys to litigate their cases. That’s why it’s essential that you retain the services of a maritime and admiralty law practice that has the legal acumen to fight for a successful outcome in your case. Contact the maritime lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. for a free initial consultation. We can review your case and explain to you your options under the law.

Fighting For Your Rights

The complex laws and rules that govern maritime law are complicated to navigate and often favor the cruising industry and vessel employers. Your employer and the big cruise lines have experienced attorneys representing their best legal interests—so should you.

After an accident, the first thing you should do is retain a lawyer who will fight for your rights and has experience in the substantive laws and procedural nuances of admiralty law. Your claim could entitle you to compensation for not only economic compensatory damages—including medical expenses and lost wages—but general damages such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

Contact Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. Today

Getting in touch with our attorneys is easy. Whether you are overseas on land, cruising in international waters, or stationed in a local port, a maritime lawyer is just a phone call away. Our headquarters are in Miami, Florida, a major hub for cruise ships from all around the world. This ideal location makes it easy for us to litigate cases. Although we are based in Florida, we regularly litigate in other States and represent clients throughout the world, so get in touch with us today to begin working on your case.