Many people living in Florida or any other state which borders the ocean might have heard about a thing called maritime law at one point or another. But very few people actually know what maritime law is or what it covers. Maritime law comes into play when there has been an injury or damage to one’s property while at sea. Meaning you are not actually in a State, you are in an ocean vessel when it occurs. Whether the damage or injury occurred on a cruise ship or as an employee on a vessel, maritime law covers these damages. Having an understanding of maritime law and knowing your rights when you are a passenger or an employee on a vessel at sea is very important.

How did maritime law develop?

Most maritime laws combine ancient doctrines and fairly recent laws. The reason that ancient doctrines are still used, and influence todays maritime laws is because the hazards of being at sea still remain the same, things have not changed all that much. England has also had a major influence on maritime laws. Most of these English laws regarding shipping and admiralty were carried over to the United States and are integrated in our laws regarding such.

What sort of injuries or damage does maritime law cover?

Often times maritime law issues are heard by Federal Courts. Claims usually involve a combination of both U.S. law and any international laws which govern claims rooted in torts, contracts and other offenses. Potential claims which are covered by maritime law include accidents involving commercial shipping boats, any errors by a commercial vessel owner, piracy, criminal acts at sea, contract issues, any spills or contamination by a shipping vessel, employees who are injured or killed on a shipping vessel, any labor relation disputes.

What does the statute of limitations look like on a maritime case?

Maritime matters and the statute of limitations that apply are very different from general statutes of limitations in other matters in the States. Under the Death on the High Sea Act, anyone killed at sea who intends to make a claim must do so within 3 years. Under the Longshore Harbor and Workers Compensation Act, if someone intends on bringing a claim, they must do so within one year of the incident giving rise to the claim. The Jones Act governs personal injury claims and these types of claims must be filed within 3 years the accident giving rise to the injury or within 3 years of the time the person knew or should have known of the injury. Cruise line passenger cases are a little different, many of them have passengers’ contract away the 3-year statute of limitations and instead apply a 1-year statute of limitations. Failure to bring a claim against a cruise line within this 1-year time window can result in a dismissal of your claim.

Do you need an attorney to pursue a maritime case?

Injuries and damage which occur at sea can become quite complicated in the legal realm. The various laws and regulations which influence these cases can be overwhelming for an individual trying to pursue the case on their own. It is always best to get an attorney involved if you feel like you were injured offshore. Calling the Lopez Law Group will always get you a free consultation to see if the case has merit, and if it does the attorneys at the Lopez Law Group stand ready and willing to represent you. We can be reached at 727-933-0015. We know that dealing with injuries at sea can be a very trying time, and we stand ready and willing to assist. Call us today!