Generally, admiralty and maritime law refers to the body of law-civil, public, and private-that governs sea-going vessels and their owners, seamen, passengers, and cargo. In the United States, admiralty and maritime law includes:
- Specific laws to protect seamen and similar professions, such as the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (Longshore Act)
- Common law rules that govern a ship owner or operator's responsibility toward his or her passengers
- Old traditions protecting ship owners and operators from bad faith or malfeasance by those who hire them to transport cargo, and vice versa
Protecting seamen and longshoremen
Because Congress recognized international shipping and a healthy seafood industry as particularly dangerous forms of employment that remain vital to a strong national economy, it passed the Jones Act in 1920 and the Longshore Act in 1927 to improve on nascent state-based workers' compensation schemes. The Acts entitle people injured while employed on sea-going vessels or as harbor workers to more generous benefits than ordinary workers' compensation. If injured under such circumstances, you need a practiced admiralty lawyer to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
General maritime law-not specific statutes-protects cruise passengers and other passengers on ocean-going vessels. Unless specified differently by the cruise or charter operator, federal law creates a fairly generous three-year statute of limitations in which injured passengers must bring suit, and defines the scope of the vessel owner or operator's responsibility. If injured as a passenger, you need the assistance of a skilled admiralty attorney to make sure you file your claim on time and in the right court.
Why do I need a specialized admiralty attorney?
Although all lawyers are licensed to practice in all areas of law, passing the bar exam does not in fact qualify every lawyer to deal with issues of admiralty and maritime law. Modern statutes have modified a body of law that evolved from diverse sources over the past 2000 years. Admiralty lawyers know and understand this complexity and can help protect your rights.
Louisiana has a 397-mile coastline and 30,000 people employed offshore, in shipping, on oil rigs, and in the fishing industry. Regular maritime injuries, accidents, and sometimes deaths create an environment in which even lawyers without much experience in the field are tempted to hang out a shingle as admiralty attorneys. Do not be fooled: it takes an experienced admiralty lawyer to properly protect your rights.
Consult us right away
The Gaar Law Firm has over 40 years combined experience in admiralty and maritime law. Contact us today for a free consultation. We will help you and your family get the maximum recovery after a maritime injury.