Our Maritime Lawyers Handle Accidents, Injuries and Assaults at Sea
Admiralty and maritime law is a highly-specialized area of the law and surprisingly few lawyers actually have a full and thorough understanding of the law. Whether you’ve been accidentally or intentionally injured at sea, you need experienced and knowledgeable legal representation to receive the compensation that you deserve . With a team of 12 attorneys and over 187 years of combined experience, Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. sets the international standard for maritime legal representation. Our attorneys have successfully resolved over 3000 cases for over $300 million in total settlements and awards. Founded in 1971, we have fought tirelessly for more than 50 years to help our clients injured at sea obtain the maximum recovery under the law.
Whether you were injured while working on a vessel or while you were a passenger on a cruise ship or pleasure craft; or were assaulted by a crewmember or other passenger, we are here to help you or your loved one. We work on a contingency basis, which means that you do not have to pay us a penny unless we make a successful recovery for you. And our consultation is always free so you can quickly get the free advice from our award-winning admiralty and maritime legal team. Call today to speak to a veteran maritime attorney immediately.
- What Is A Maritime Lawyer?
- What Does A Maritime Lawyer Do?
- TV Appearances
- Meet Our Maritime Lawyers
- Landmark Cases
- Types of Maritime Cases We Handle
- Maritime Wrongful Death Claims
- Maritime Catastrophic Injury Claims
- Admiralty and Maritime Laws
- Maritime Lawyer FAQs
- Questions to Ask Your Maritime Attorney
What Is A Maritime Lawyer?
Maritime law focuses on activities that occur on navigable waters. Maritime lawyers must be knowledgeable about laws that govern waters falling under the jurisdiction of individual nations as well as international waters. The types of cases that maritime lawyers handle include shipboard accidents on commercial vessels and passenger vessels; boating accidents; cruise ship and shore excursion accidents, such as those involving snorkeling or parasailing, cruise ship rape; and Jones Act claims. Most of these cases involve injuries due to negligence or criminal behavior. If you’re uncertain whether your case requires a maritime attorney, contact Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. for a free consultation.
What Does A Maritime Lawyer Do?
Maritime lawyers handle maritime cases. In short, this means cases that involve navigable bodies of water. Because of the unique nature of maritime law, maritime lawyers require additional training and education to ensure that they are able to handle the nuanced cases that develop from accidents and torts that occur at sea. Maritime lawyers must know how to identify the court of jurisdiction in any claim and to be able to litigate that claim under the rules of that court. The types of cases that maritime lawyers handle include ship accidents, Jones Act claims (which mirror worker accident claims on land), seaman’s claims, maritime wrongful death, assault, and rape. Because many of these claims occur on cruise ships, cargo ships, oil rigs, and other types of vessels, they require attorneys who are familiar with the nuances of maritime law. With over 187 years of maritime experience, Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman are the preeminent maritime law attorneys operating in the United States. Contact us immediately to discuss your case.
Our Attorney TV Appearances Covering Admiralty & Maritime Cases
The attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. are known throughout the legal community and have developed a reputation as industry leaders. News networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and FOX News have featured our maritime law authorities on their networks when they need an expert opinion about a legal matter occurring at sea. Our named partners have made appearances on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, Nightline, and many others. Established news media outlets seek our legal opinions and expertise because we are able to provide thorough, informed, and concise information in a way that’s digestible to their audiences. There is a reason why our attorneys have appeared on every single major news network, literally hundreds of times. It is because we are the go to resource for knowledge, expertise and information regarding anything that happens on the water.
Meet Our Maritime Lawyers
The maritime and admiralty attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. have been dedicated to helping victims of maritime accidents, injuries, assaults, and wrongful death since 1971. Meet our world famous team of 12 full time maritime lawyers:
Best Lawyers in America
Best Law Firms (US News)
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Club
Million Dollar Advocates Club
Best Law Firms (US News)
Best Law Firms (US News)
Top 50 Personal Injury Verdicts in Florida in 2017
$875,000 Crewmember class action wage claim
Vessel Documentation & Finance
Recreational Boating Claims
Marine Property Damage Claims
Maritime Contract Claims
Work With the Team That Sets Precedents in Maritime Law
Our firm of Miami maritime lawyers is constantly pushing boundaries by representing — and winning — landmark cases that set precedent for all cases going forward. This cutting-edge understanding of maritime law is one only one of the reasons why hiring Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. for your Miami maritime law case is an easy decision to make.
Our impressive list of landmark cases includes the following:
Appellate Opinion in K.T. vs Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD
This is a landmark decision that will require every cruise line to warn passengers about the risk of rapes and sexual assaults on their vessels. LMAW obtains landmark Appellate Court decision in a case where a teenage girl was raped while aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise ship
This is a landmark decision that will require every cruise line to warn passengers about the risk of rapes and sexual assaults on their vessels. LMAW obtains landmark Appellate Court decision in a case where a teenage girl was raped while aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise ship finds that cruise lines have a duty to warn passengers about the risk of rapes and sexual assaults on their cruise ships. This critically important decision shines a much-needed light on the hidden epidemic of rapes and sexual assaults on the high seas.
First Class Action in Admiralty Allowed
HERNANDEZ v. The MOTOR VESSEL SKYWARD 61 F.R.D. 558 (S.D. Fla. 1973)
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: In an action for breach of contract, negligence, and breach of implied warranty of fitness arising out of a pleasure cruise during which the passengers and the crew were exposed to contaminated food
HERNANDEZ v. The MOTOR VESSEL SKYWARD 61 F.R.D. 558 (S.D. Fla. 1973)
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: In an action for breach of contract, negligence, and breach of implied warranty of fitness arising out of a pleasure cruise during which the passengers and the crew were exposed to contaminated food or water, plaintiff passengers filed a motion to certify their action against defendant cruise line as a class action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(1)(A).
OVERVIEW: The cruise line contended that a mass tort or mass accident case was unsuitable for class action treatment. The court held that only the negligence issue was available for class treatment because a ruling on that issue would be applicable to any prospective claimant and the requirements under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 for class treatment of that issue were present in the case. The other issues pertaining to proximate cause, contract liability, adequacy of medical treatment afforded to each passenger, and damages were individual in nature and could not be certified for class treatment. The court held that the interests of all concerned would be advanced by a single determination of the negligence issue under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(4)(A).
OUTCOME: The court certified for class treatment the single issue of negligence in the preparation of food and water provided to the passengers.
Error in Medical Negligence Case to not Allow Interrogatories Regarding Textbooks Regarded as Authoritative by Defendant Physician
BUGA v. WIENER, M.D. 277 So. 2d 296; (Fla. App. 4th 1973)
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: The plaintiffs, patient, and her husband sought review of a decision from the Circuit Court, Broward County (Florida), which, based upon a jury verdict, entered judgment in favor of defendant physician on plaintiffs’ medical malpractice complaint
BUGA v. WIENER, M.D. 277 So. 2d 296; (Fla. App. 4th 1973)
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: The plaintiffs, patient, and her husband sought review of a decision from the Circuit Court, Broward County (Florida), which, based upon a jury verdict, entered judgment in favor of defendant physician on plaintiffs’ medical malpractice complaint. The plaintiffs sought damages for the defendant’s alleged negligence in treating the plaintiff patient, and on an alternate theory of liability, based upon a breach of contract claim.
OVERVIEW: The plaintiffs, the patient, and her husband filed a complaint against the defendant physician, charging that the defendant negligently performed a manipulation of the plaintiff patient’s knee. As an alternate theory of liability, the complaint charged that the defendant entered into a contract with the plaintiff patient to perform manipulation to eliminate stiffness in her knee, but breached the contract because the manipulation resulted in a locked leg. Based upon a jury verdict, the lower court entered judgment in defendant’s favor. The plaintiffs contended that the lower court erred in sustaining the defendant’s objections to several of plaintiffs’ interrogatories and that the lower court erred in instructing the jury. The appellate court reversed and remanded for a new trial. The appellate court held that two of the contested interrogatories were valid as being reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence because they called for a listing of textbooks recognized by the defendant as authoritative to the plaintiff patient’s treatment. The appellate court further determined that the lower court’s instructions that were inconsistent with plaintiffs’ theory of recovery constituted reversible error.
OUTCOME: The lower court’s judgment in favor of the defendant physician on negligence and breach of contract claims brought by plaintiffs, patient, and her husband, was reversed and remanded for a new trial. The appellate court held that the lower court erred in sustaining an objection to two interrogatories, and the trial court’s error in giving inconsistent jury instructions constituted reversible error.
Types of Maritime Cases We Handle
From our headquarters in Miami, Florida, we represent victims of all types of offshore accidents and injuries around the world. Generally, our clients fall into one of the categories below.
Note that not all cases are black and white. Whether or not you fit into any of the categories below, if you have been the victim of an injury, accident or assault that took place at sea or offshore in any capacity, email or call us now at (877) 233-1238 for free advice on your best course of action.
Cruise Ship Passengers and Crew
Sustaining an injury or becoming the victim of an accident or assault is not on the mind of most cruise passengers setting sail for a vacation at sea, nor is it for crew members embarking on their next voyage — but these things happen at sea just as they do on land.
Whether it is an accident due to unsafe conditions aboard the cruise ship or during shore excursions, or sexual assault by a crew member or passenger — anyone can become a victim at any time. Because accidents, injuries, death, and assault aboard cruise ships all fall under maritime jurisdiction, an attorney focusing on maritime and admiralty law has the best chance to recover damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering.
Disappearances and overboard accidents are also common accidents on cruise ships.
Slip and falls on cruise ships
Cruise ship accidents and injuries, including slip and falls, account for a significant percentage of the legal cases that we represent in regards to Miami maritime law. Slip and falls account for nearly 45% of all injuries on cruise ships according to a study concluded in 2010, which is only one indication that finding a Miami attorney familiar with cruise ship slips and falls is extremely important.
Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. are regarded as an authority on cruise ship law; our team of twelve lawyers has taken on every major cruise line and handled thousands of cruise ship cases, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. Email or call us now at 888-311-9929 to see how we may be able to help with your case.
Cruise Ship Rape and Sexual Assault
When you board a ship for a cruise vacation, the last thing that you want to worry about is your safety from sexual violence. Unfortunately, cruise ship rape & sexual assault is all-too-common in a situation where passengers are given access to copious quantities of alcohol and an ongoing festive mood.
In 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, the FBI received 72 complaints of sexual assault on cruise ships, out of 100 total serious crimes that they received reports of. Cruisejunkie.com has a publically-available report that they have compiled that can give you more information about statistics in 2010, which can be used as an idea of current numbers.
Being involved in a boating accident on the water can be dangerous or even fatal. There are over 3000 injuries and deaths caused by boating accidents in just the United States every year. Unlike auto accidents, the victims of boating accidents may be hours away from medical attention. We have successfully handled hundreds of cases involving injury or death to both passengers and crewmembers working aboard boats. If you were injured in a boating or small watercraft accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call us today to receive a free consultation.
While the term “yacht” can be applied to any recreational vessel, we typically associate them with personal boats that are 12 meters or greater from bow to stern. These larger, heavy vessels are capable of high speeds, making a collision with a yacht or while in one extraordinarily dangerous. Additionally, because yachts are often leased or hired for recreational purposes, accidents on yachts are common. We have successfully handled hundreds of cases involving injury or death to both passengers and crewmembers working aboard yachts. Whether you’ve been injured in a yacht collision, were in an accident aboard a yacht, or were assaulted by a passenger or crew member, you may be entitled to compensation. Call today for a free consultation.
Jet Ski Accidents
Dade County alone has nearly 16,000 vessels registered in Class A-1, which includes personal watercraft. Florida has a total of nearly 150,000 Class A-1 registrations, which is 15% of all registered vessels in the states. Accidents involving jet skis, wave runners, and personal watercraft occur for all reasons. Some of the most common include:
- Poor instruction and training
- Unsafe conditions
- Poor weather conditions
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Hazardous water conditions
- Excessive speed
Personal watercraft like jet skis and Waverunners are capable of reaching very high speeds, and like motorcycles, offer little exterior protection. To make them more dangerous, these small recreational machines are often rented out by the day to customers with little or no experience. Even if you were injured in a single-person accident, you may still have a case. Contact our attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Too often, we do not think about the dangers of alluring vacation activities like parasailing until it’s too late. According to statistics presented by the Parasail Safety Council, parasailing is responsible for more than 500 serious injuries and 80 deaths over the last 30 years.
Parasailing operators are entitled to define their own safety measures, which, unfortunately, often results in faulty equipment, posing critical risks to vacationers and thrill-seekers. Parasailing companies should assume responsibility for the safety of their patrons by only operating under safe conditions and providing safe equipment and thorough instruction and supervision.
Parasailing accidents can be minor or major, ranging from minor wounds to catastrophic accidents requiring hospitalization and/or intensive surgery. Regardless of the scale of the accident, or whether or not you signed a waiver, call us for no-strings-attached legal advice on what to do next.
Scuba Diving Accidents
Scuba divers must be trained and certified to be able to rent equipment or participate in excursions, but diving accidents are still common and their causes are numerous. Whether your scuba accident is the result of faulty equipment, a boat operator who is inexperienced or unaware of the diver’s location, or environmental factors, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. Contact our maritime law firm to discuss your case.
Offshore accidents can include incidents that occur on cargo ships, oil rigs, platforms, or any other type of event that occurs at sea. The variety of accidents is also extensive. Offshore accidents can result from explosions or fires, falling items, winches or other moving machine parts, a vessel collision, or even a slip and fall. If you’ve been injured offshore, you’ll require the services of a maritime lawyer to make a full and fair recovery. Contact us today to speak to one of our maritime attorneys.
Barges are characterized by enormous mass, slow speeds, and limited maneuverability. In other words, they’re unwieldy, which means that they are also a frequent site for accidents. Whether the action is caused by a barge collision, falling items, or machinery on the barge, the injuries can be serious. If you were working on a barge and sustained an injury, chances are excellent that you’re covered under the Jones Act, which, among other things, protects workers on vessels in navigable waters. Call today for a free consultation.
Commercial Fishing Accidents
All commercial fishermen are aware of the offshore dangers of their profession. Commercial fishing is dynamic, unpredictable, and hazardous. Accidents can range from being injured by an errant hook to having a hand caught in a winch. In our over 50 years of practice, we have seen, and successfully resolved many catastrophic injuries to commercial fisherman. Contact Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. to discuss your commercial fishing injury.
Maritime Wrongful Death Claims
Maritime accidents lead to thousands of deaths each year. In 2017, marine accidents killed 1,163 people. Notably, wrongful death cases are easily the most complicated area of law as it relates to maritime law. Whether the decedent is a crewmember, passenger, and the location of the incident can dictate an entirely different set of laws in a wrongful death case. Historically, there was no remedy for wrongful death under Maritime Law. This led to the passage in 1920 by Congress of the Death on the High Seas Act , “DOHSA”. While this Act was meant to provide damages where they were otherwise not available, 100 years later the Act is used as a shield by Maritime Defendants to dramatically limit the damages available in such a case. We fight on a daily basis to change this law and end its application in any way to cruise ships, but as it stands now there are limited ways to get around the scope of the Act. Our expertise in this complicated and hyper-technical area of the law is one of the main reasons why survivors need to contact us immediately to take steps to protect the wrongful death claim.
The unique complications of maritime law underscore the importance of hiring a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in the specifics of maritime law. Maritime law is significantly different from laws that typically apply to wrongful death, with limitations and restrictions on damages and differing statutes of limitations.
Maritime Catastrophic Injury Claims
Marine transportation workers face some of the most difficult working conditions in the world. As of 2016, there were approximately 67,000 marine workers in the United States. Between 2011 and 2017, marine workers suffered fatal injuries at a rate almost six times higher than the overall rate of U.S. workers. During the same time period, approximately 11,000 non-fatal occupational injuries were recorded among this group. Research indicates that seafarers experience injury and illness at high rates, including a high proportion of upper-extremity injuries, lower-extremity injuries, and back injuries, which result in disability.
Injuries for seafarers can be catastrophic injuries that profoundly affect the quality of life of the worker. Serious injuries at sea may include head, neck, or back injuries up to and including permanent paralysis. Workers may suffer traumatic amputations due to the dangerous heavy machinery and equipment in use on commercial vessels. We are proud to have successfully represented countless crewmembers who were catastrophically injured or killed while working at sea.
Generally speaking, the Federal law that protects U.S. seafarers is called the Jones Act. The Jones Act applies to crew members of vessels working on navigable waters with a U.S. connection. The Jones Act protects workers in the event of negligence on the part of the ship’s owner through failure to maintain and repair equipment, provide safety gear, and ensure the ship is reasonably safe. Should the owner be found negligent, the Jones Act provides that the worker is entitled to all available damages for loss of wages, including loss of future wages. An injured seaman also must have their medical expenses relating to the injury paid for by the employer, including future medical expenses. The employer can also be liable for significant compensation for pain and suffering, depending on the severity of the injury. Punitive damages may also be awarded if the employer is found to have willfully and recklessly disregarded employee safety. Because of the extremely favorable benefits and protections of the Jones Act, maritime employers will do all they can to avoid the reach of the Jones Act. We have decades of experience in making sure that the Jones Act applies and that it works to the maximum benefit of our clients.
Depending on their industry and the type of work they do, maritime workers are protected under a number of statutes like the Jones Act, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, the Death on the High Seas statute, and others. Maritime law attorneys are familiar with the rights of crewmembers and maritime workers.. Maritime attorneys are intimately familiar with the laws that affect you as a maritime worker and generally speaking the law is favorable for the maritime worker. This favorable law is largely in recognition for the dangers of working at sea. Contact Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. to discuss your claim.
Though all the implications of admiralty law are important, some of the most impactful are the considerations for maritime workers that require medical attention and care following a debilitating injury — as well as the families of those workers — particularly in the case of wrongful death while on the job at sea. Florida is home to roughly 70,000 maritime workers, meaning that legal support for this industry is extremely important in Miami.
Maritime laborers execute some of the world’s most difficult and demanding work, under some of the most dangerous conditions imaginable. The special arena of maritime and admiralty law exists in large part for this reason: to ensure that the hardworking men and women who put their lives at risk daily in the pursuit of an honest living are protected in case of an accident, assault, injury or death.
Guide to Maritime and Admiralty Law
Maritime law, also referred to today as admiralty law, is the area of law concerned with the activity that takes place on navigable waters such as the Ocean.
Injuries and incidents on cruise ships, cargo vessels, pleasure craft, jet skis, and other vessels are treated differently than other types of legal injury claims. A special body of laws, conventions, and treaties collectively called admiralty & maritime law — interchangeable terms in today’s language — establish legal rules applicable to civil litigation and insurance claims related to ships, shipping, and offshore work.
Maritime and admiralty law covers various categories and offshore circumstances including cruise ships, cargo vessels, marine commerce, sea navigation, negligence, unseaworthiness, and civil marine torts and injuries to name a few.
Our law firm focuses specifically on maritime law, with a prolific history of winning settlements and verdicts for our clients that have suffered catastrophic injuries, accidents and/or the death of a loved one while aboard a cruise ship, ferry, tugboat, barge, cargo ship, oil rig, commercial fishing boat — or any other vessel at sea.
What Constitutes Maritime and Admiralty Law?
At one time, the terms “admiralty law” and “maritime law” had two different meanings. “Admiralty” once referred to the judicial court in England and the early American colonies that handled legal matters related to shipping. Maritime law later emerged to handle cases related to sea travel and commerce. Eventually, the two discrete but closely related practices merged, and similarly the terms merged into one legal discipline.
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, or that derived from court case rulings. In addition, state laws can also have an impact on a maritime law case.
Interestingly, when it comes to maritime law, the same case may be argued in a Florida court, a U.S. court, and the court of another state, depending on the circumstances of the case. As a result of the application of both domestic and foreign laws in maritime cases, there are often gaps in maritime and admiralty law that require courts to apply laws from various jurisdictions to arrive at a reasonable conclusion to a given dispute.
If an individual has sustained a maritime-related injury, meaning an injury at sea or an injury related to employment at sea, legal jurisdiction will be an important factor in the case. Put simply, jurisdiction dictates 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 on every type of case. When it comes 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 on 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, where the complainant may be able to decide which court they prefer to file in.
Generally, if a case stems from an incident that took place in U.S. navigable waters and involves either two vessels crashing, injury to a seaman, or injury to a passenger on a vessel, the case will likely be subject to admiralty jurisdiction. Moreover, cases in which a crime, such as a rape or sexual assault, was committed against an American citizen or a vessel on the high seas generally falls within admiralty jurisdiction.
When it comes to contracts, cases that involve agreements related to commerce, navigation, or business of the sea — e.g., chartered vessels or cargo transport — are typically subject to admiralty jurisdiction as well.
The implications of admiralty jurisdiction are so that a maritime case is handled much differently than its onshore counterpart. For example, a slip and fall incident aboard a cruise ship defers to an entirely different set of laws, governed by General Maritime Law, as opposed to a slip-and-fall accident would defer to a stateside drug store.
The convenience store incident would fall under the state law jurisdiction, where the offshore incident would fall under admiralty and maritime law. For this reason, it is important to consult with an offshore injury lawyer to ensure your case is handled appropriately.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “navigable waterways are those waters of the U.S. that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide shoreward to the mean high water mark, and that are presently used, have been used in the past, or could be susceptible to use for transport of interstate or foreign commerce.”
This concept is important when seeking to establish jurisdiction in the case of a maritime injury, accident, death, or assault.
Admiralty and Maritime Laws That Affect Your Case
The Jones Act
The Jones Act protects seamen on navigable waters who become 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 the vessel or on land. This act requires employers to provide a safe work environment for seamen. The Legal Information Institute (LLI) of Cornell Law explains that “the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known as the Jones Act, is a federal statute establishing support for the development and maintenance of a merchant marine in order to support commercial activity and serve as a naval auxiliary in times of war or national emergency.”
Essentially, the Jones Act designates that seamen employed on a vessel or working on a vessel while in port have legal protections with regard to workplace injuries. Seamen covered under this federal law should pursue legal representation by an attorney with a prolific history of successfully dealing with Jones Act cases.
Unfortunately, it is common for employers or the responsible party to attempt to minimize a victim’s injury or frame the circumstances in a way that limits their liability, reduces the perception of their involve
ment, or highlights the victim’s alleged negligence. Avoid this painful reality by engaging with our maritime law firm before you make any decisions or statements or take any actions that could impact your case and jeopardize any reward you may be entitled to.
The Jones Act vs. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act or the LHWCA provide compensation for work-related injuries sustained by separate categories of maritime workers. The Jones Act covers a “master or member of a crew of any vessel,” whereas the LHWCA covers the essential maritime workers that work in piers, ports, terminals, and docks and otherwise sea-related roles without being part of a vessel’s permanent crew. The distinction is important as is employing an attorney versed in carrying forth complaints from both categories of workers.
Death on the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act protects the families of individuals whose death at sea occurred as the result of a wrongful act or under otherwise negligent circumstances.
Deaths that occur a certain distance away from or within a U.S. shoreline can be subject to a variety of laws. And believe it or not, the simple question of the location of the vessel is arguably the most critical component because of the implications regarding the law that applies to the claims.
Deaths That Occur Less Than Three Miles From a U.S. Shoreline
Individuals should be aware that general wrongful death laws will apply if a passenger or a sea worker is killed while he or she is still within three nautical miles of a state shoreline (or within U.S. territorial waters).
Additionally, if a crewmember or seaman who is within three nautical miles of a U.S. shoreline dies because of a ship owner’s or employer’s negligence, the Jones Act might also be applicable and such a claim can be filed right along with a general wrongful death claim.
Deaths That Occur More Than Three Miles From a U.S. Shoreline
Many attorneys are often faced with cases that involve deaths that took place more than three miles away from a U.S. shoreline. What spouses and family members should know about such deaths is that they are generally covered by the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). Generally, DOHSA will apply to all individuals who were killed in accidents that took place more than three miles out from a U.S. shoreline, no matter whether the individual was a maritime worker or not.
As a general rule, DOHSA is a nasty federal law that dramatically limits the recovery that can be made in a death claim. For example, the Act limits the amount of wrongful death damages that spouses, children, parents, and dependent relatives will be able to recover, and individuals should note that only “pecuniary” damages will be recoverable under this particular law. Pecuniary damages are those damages that can be quantified in terms of a dollar amount. That said, family members will not be able to recover damages for things like loss of companionship or consortium.
Having said that, an experienced attorney knows that there are ways to make a substantial recovery in a death claim, if done correctly.
Loved ones should also be aware that a lawsuit under the Act must be brought within three years from the date of the seaman’s death. Additionally, in cases involving the wrongful death of a crewmember, the decedent’s personal representative could choose to bring an action under either general maritime wrongful death laws or under DOHSA.
The Law of Unseaworthiness
According to the Maryland Law Review, “a shipowner has an absolute duty to certain persons working upon his ship to furnish a seaworthy vessel, that is, a ship and its appurtenances be reasonably fit for their intended use. If the ship is unseaworthy, the shipowner is liable for personal injury caused by such unseaworthiness to persons to whom the ‘warranty’ extends.”
Essentially, an owner and/or operator of a ship is responsible to the crew for providing a vessel fit for sea travel. If an accident or injury should occur because of the shipowner’s negligence, the injured party is entitled to seek damages for his or her pain and suffering.
The success of these types of claims relies on the victim’s representation — specifically, their ability to prove that the vessel was unseaworthy. Only a law firm that focuses solely on admiralty law like Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is capable of compiling the evidence to support this type of claim to prove that the vessel was indeed unseaworthy at the time the incident occurred.
Maritime Lawyer FAQs
The maritime and admiralty law attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. have negotiated and litigated thousands of cases throughout our over 50 year history. These are some of the most frequently asked questions that we’ve received from clients in our decades of experience.
What should I do after an accident at sea?
The first steps should be to make sure you report your injuries and to make sure you attempt to properly document the incident by taking photographs and video of the scene of the incident. It’s essential that you have your injuries attended to by a physician. If you’re on a cruise ship, report the incident and go to the medical center and have the ship’s doctor examine you. Make sure you keep any documentation from the doctor. Next, contact our maritime law firm for a free, no-obligation consultation at your earliest convenience. It’s also important to know what you should not do. Do not give a statement and do not sign a waiver of liability. And do not accept a settlement without first talking to one of our attorneys.
How much does a maritime lawyer cost?
Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. offer consultations completely free of charge and our fees are a percentage of the money recovered for you. You never pay us a penny unless we make a successful financial recovery.
Where does my lawsuit have to be filed?
This largely depends on where your accident occurred and the ship’s port of registry, and the location of the company’s headquarters, among other factors. Most cruise accident injury cases are filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami and that is because most cruise ticket contracts require the case to be filed there. Nonetheless, our firm proudly handles cases for accidents and injuries that have occurred literally all over the world. One of the benefits of hiring an experienced maritime law firm, like Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is that we have the resources and experience to pursue claims anywhere in the world.
When should I contact a maritime lawyer for a cruise ship injury
The earlier you contact a maritime lawyer, the better, even if you haven’t reached land yet. The sooner one of our attorneys is able to talk to you, the better informed you will be as to the steps that need to be taken to protect your claim. As an example, you should avoid making statements or speaking to anyone about the incident before speaking with us.
Can I contact a maritime lawyer from overseas after an offshore accident?
Yes. In fact, it’s recommended. There’s no requirement that you have to be in the same country as the attorney you hire. You can begin your legal action before you return to port.
What kind of compensation can an injured cruise ship passenger receive?
Your compensation will be based on factors like the extent of your injuries, the degree of negligence that led to the accident, and your time of recovery. You should receive remuneration for your medical expenses, time off from work, and your pain and suffering. Depending on your injuries, this could be a substantial amount.
Questions to Ask Your Maritime Attorney
Anyone can have a website or advertise. Before hiring a maritime attorney, ask the following questions.
- Have you ever represented a shipping company as their maritime lawyer?
- Have you or any family members ever worked for a shipping company as an employee?
- As a maritime lawyer, how many cases have you handled while representing an injured seaman?
- As a cruise ship lawyer, how many cases have you handled while representing an injured passenger?
- As a maritime lawyer, have you tried a seaman’s or passenger’s case to a verdict?
- What is the amount of the highest verdict your client has received in a trial?
- Have you handled any landmark cases in the admiralty and maritime field?
- As a cruise ship lawyer, how many of your cases have gone on appeal?
- How many years of maritime lawyer experience do you have in the admiralty and maritime area representing injured seaman and passengers?
- Have you ever represented a seaman’s union?
- Have you written any books or articles dealing with admiralty or maritime claims?
- Have you ever lectured on admiralty or maritime law?
- What is your maritime lawyer rating with Martindale Hubbel?
Additionally, you can find out a lot about a maritime lawyer by searching the web using his or her name. Check newspaper stories online. You can also go to Lexis Nexis and see copies of all opinions in which an attorney is mentioned and read directly about the results of cases that the cruise accident lawyer has handled. West Law has the same type of database.
Contact The Leaders in Maritime Law to Discuss Your Case
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident, sustained an injury, or were assaulted while at sea or in port, or you are grieving the wrongful death of a loved one that occurred aboard a cruise ship or while at sea — reach out to us. We can help.
We are headquartered in Miami, Florida, a major hub for vessels and cruise ships from all over the world. In addition to handling proceedings in Florida, our attorneys regularly litigate across the United States and represent clients all over the world.
Not only does Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. focus specifically on admiralty and maritime law, we are nationally recognized by the highest maritime law organizations and media outlets for our contributions to maritime law and prolific history of successful outcomes in the courtroom, board room, and negotiation table.
- What does assumption of risk mean?
- Maritime Statutes
- Admiralty Statute of Limitations
- Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010
- Federal Judiciary Act
- Jones Act
- Limitation of Liability Act
- Provisions limiting liability for personal injury or death
- Shipowner Contractual Statute of Limitations
- State special maritime criminal jurisdiction
- Unseaworthiness & Maintenance and Cure
- Limitation of Liability