Steinberg Law is dedicated to assisting clients in need of a Maritime lawyer in Delray Beach Florida to help them with injuries and accidents sustained at sea. Since Maritime law can be different than laws pertaining to personal injuries sustained on land, it’s important to seek legal counsel from someone who is familiar with admiralty cases.
What is Maritime Law?
Admiralty or Maritime law is a specific set of laws governing the seas and often dealing with marine commerce, navigation, salvaging, shipping, sailing and transporting goods or people by sea. Maritime attorneys must be familiar with both US laws and regulations that govern oceans and US vessels as well as international laws. Originally, Maritime law referred only to ocean waters but now encompasses any navigable body of water in the United States, including rivers, harbors, lakes and canals.
In this jurisdiction, laws protect those who are injured or have an accident, which means passengers or crew members can seek compensation for injuries sustained at sea. Just like on land, damages that may require compensation include medical expenses, lost wages and emotional damage. Sometimes, injuries sustained on land that are related to work on ships or occur during a cruise can fall under the jurisdiction of Maritime law.
Types of Admiralty Law
There are several different types of Maritime law. Accidents at sea can range from simple slip and falls on a cruise ship to disastrous events causing injury or loss of life. The laws, rules and codes that govern Maritime law can be difficult to navigate without the right training and experience. A Maritime attorney needs to be well-versed in every aspect of seaman’s rights and the law regarding cruise ship accidents. Here are a few of the different types of Maritime law:
Seaman Claims and the Jones Act
Due to the often unpredictable nature of the open ocean, under-prepared or neglected vessels can cause injuries, including serious bodily injuries or death. As a result, accidents and injuries among the crews of merchant, recreational and transport vessels are common. Often times crew members are hesitant to report their injuries due to a fear of losing their jobs or other retaliation. That is why if you or a family member are a member of a ship’s crew, it is important to know your rights.
The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is federal legislation that defines the rights and laws of a seaman and also falls under the jurisdiction of Maritime law. Specifically, this Act allows a seaman to sue his employer if he/she is injured on the job due to a negligent act. This Act also protects seamen against ship-owners whose vessels are determined not to be seaworthy.
To benefit from this Act one must qualify as a seaman. To be legally considered a seaman, you must spend a significant amount of time as the crew member of a ship or boat that is in navigation. This means the vessel must be afloat in a navigable body of water and capable of moving.
Your rights as a qualifying seaman under the Jones Act include wages, medical care, food and shelter, transportation and contract benefits. If you become sick injured by negligence at the fault of an employer, you are entitled to compensation for lost wages and loss of earning capacity. This is also known as “maintenance and cure”.
Cruise Ship Accidents
Cruise ships have their own section of Maritime law and if you want to make a claim that involves a cruise, it is important to consult a Maritime lawyer that is familiar with cruise ship laws. Maritime law, in general, has many laws that can encompass and apply to cruise ships but there are some laws specific to cruises. For instance, in many cases when you purchase a cruise ticket, that ticket includes a contract which provides you a limited time to file a claim. This statute of limitations may be shorter than the one typically provided by general Maritime law. In most instances, such claims must be made within one year of an accident and must be filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida in Miami, Florida.
It is also important to recognize which jurisdiction applies to your cruise ship accident. Is it the state it departed from, the United States or some other nation that it originally departed from? An experienced Maritime lawyer can help with these nuanced details of cruise ship law if you decide to file a claim.
Recreational boating and water-sports are a great way to enjoy the water. However, such recreation can become dangerous if accidents occur. Recreational boating can include anything from relaxing on a yacht or a sailboat to riding waves on a jet ski or being pulled on water skis.
Water-sports can lead to injuries that are often more serious than typical slip and falls. Due to high speeds that can lead to serious injuries or risk of drowning, water-sports can become dangerous. If you are injured, boat manufacturers, operators, rental owners, mechanics and tour operators can be held responsible. You may be entitled to compensation if you become injured because of neglected or faulty equipment.
Some of the most dangerous jobs in history have been at sea and, even with today’s advancements, injuries when working offshore are not uncommon. Unfortunately, some offshore workers don’t qualify as seamen because they work on permanently anchored offshore rigs that don’t qualify as vessels in navigation. This means they do not fall under the protection of the Jones Act and, as such, may fall under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Injuries sustained on rigs are often due to a risky line of work, but it is important not to write off such an accident without proper investigation. If such an injury is due to negligence or fault at work you may be entitled to compensation.
Finding a Maritime Injury Lawyer
A qualified Maritime Injury Lawyer should be well-versed in all of the above areas of Admiralty law. If you suspect that an injury you sustained while on a vessel offshore is the fault of someone else, it is important to find a qualified lawyer to represent you. With all of the nuances and subtleties associated with Maritime law, it’s essential that you are represented by a professional.