Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about maritime lawyers. Many people may not even really know exactly what a maritime attorney is. But if something happens to you when you’re in the open water, you’re going to find out really fast.
Essentially, maritime law governs what happens at sea. That covers a lot of territory, though, so let’s break it down.
Lost or Damaged Cargo. One of the most common uses for the open seas is to transport cargo. Because of this, many maritime law cases involve incidents regarding these activities. If cargo is damaged or never delivered to its proper location, who should pay?
Cruise Ship Injuries and Crimes. For the most part, cruise ships provide a great way to enjoy a unique location with planned activities, all-inclusive eats, and exotic destinations. However, slippery pools, norovirus breakouts, and incidents of assault are not unheard of. After all, in 2011 the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was passed to help victims of crimes and injuries on cruise ships. It was an issue that needed to be addressed.
Whether you slip and fall due to negligent cruise ship maintenance or become the victim of a theft or violent crime, you’re going to need a maritime lawyer’s help to hold the responsible parties liable and get the compensation you deserve. Without a knowledgeable attorney by your side, it’s you against the cruise line, and you can bet that they have no interest in publicizing – or even admitting to – any situation that makes them look bad or could potentially take money out of their pockets.
Rights of Crew Members. If you work on a ship or out in the open water, you don’t have exactly the same rights as workers on land – but that doesn’t mean you have no rights and protections. Employers are responsible for maintaining safe conditions, and if you are injured, you may be able to receive compensation.
If you are not fairly compensated, do not receive proper medical care, or feel as though your labor is being exploited while onboard, you may want to consult with a maritime lawyer. Additionally, if a loved one dies while working on a cruise or cargo ship, you may also want to look into filing a wrongful death suit.
Other Crimes or Injuries on the Open Seas. While there is a common stereotype of the open seas as having no laws and crime having free reign, you still deserve justice for anything you suffer while you are out on your boat or vessel.
Common crimes on open waters include theft and assault, but a maritime lawyer may be able to help you as the victim of a wide array of crimes, just like a lawyer would do on land. You also may be able to seek compensation if you are involved in a boating accident or suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence while out on the water.
Petitory and Possessory Suits. Not all maritime law cases will involve violence or injury – there are also maritime lawyers to handle civil disputes related to ownership.
Owning a boat or other vessel is a source of pride. So when your ownership is called into question, you may feel extremely frustrated or confused. Admiralty court can preside over petitory or possessory cases that determine the rightful ownership of a vessel. When these types of cases go to court, the vessel remains in the possession of the court until the issue is solved. You can learn more about these kinds of cases here.
Towing-Related Issues. Towing vehicles or vessels across open waters presents a specific set of risks and damages that both the towing company and the owner of the vessel must face. Before a towing job, contracts are usually written up to assign liabilities, payment, and so on.
But there are also a specific set of common laws that address liability and other issues. If a contract is breached, or if there is confusion after an incident with the towing job, you will need to call in a maritime lawyer.
These issues may also stem from a boat that was towed when no towing was necessary or wanted. Towing can be expensive, and may even cause damage to your boat or other problems while you are trying to locate and bring it back to its place of storage.
Bottom line? If your situation occurred on the open water, it is important to reach out to an experienced maritime lawyer who has a track record of success in the associated area of the law, whether it’s personal injury, criminal defense, or something else entirely.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 AVVO Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for 2010-2013 and Super Lawyers for 2014-2016.. Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.