What Is Maritime Law?

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Maritime law, also called admiralty law, regulates many legal issues that arise involving ships or vessels, as well as legal issues that arise on open waters. Most countries have their own maritime laws, and “Laws of the Seas” include laws between nations that govern international waters.

It is important to understand maritime law if you work offshore, if you are a seaman and most of your work is aboard a vessel or in the service of a vessel, or if you are injured on open waters on a pleasure yacht, boat or while on a cruise ship. Maritime laws can govern what happens to you if you are hurt in any of these circumstances instead of traditional personal injury or workers’ compensation laws that apply to injuries on land.

What is Maritime Law?

Maritime law is a branch of law that sets the rules for commerce on the high seas and for navigation of navigable waterways. Some of the different laws that fall into the category of maritime law include The Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, and the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010.

Maritime law creates specific rules that apply only on navigable waterways or that apply to crews of ships and offshore rigs. For example, an Admiralty Statute of Limitations establishes rules for when claims must be made and cites special rules for criminal jurisdiction when an infraction happens on a navigable vessel on open waters.

These rules are very complex, and only attorneys who regularly handle maritime law cases have the in-depth knowledge necessary to apply maritime law correctly and to ensure that the laws work to protect you.

When Does Maritime Law Apply?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine if maritime law applies in your situation or to determine which maritime laws apply. For example, to be covered by the Jones Act in the event of a work injury, you must meet the criteria to be considered a seaman. Benefits available under the Jones Act can differ substantially from benefits available under traditional workers’ compensation laws or under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, so you must understand what laws apply to you.

A two-part test is used to determine whether you are a seaman. The test looks at whether you have a substantial connection to a vessel in navigation and also looks at whether your work contributes to a vessel’s functioning or accomplishing a vessel’s mission. Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can assist you in determining if you meet the criteria to be considered a seaman so you can take advantage of Jones Act protections.

Those who are hurt on personal watercrafts, cruise ships, or offshore excursions also need to determine if maritime law applies after an injury. Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. assists injury victims in understanding their rights and in doing everything possible to make a successful claim for compensation under maritime laws or other laws protecting their rights. To find out more about how a maritime lawyer can assist you, give us a call today.