Are We In International Waters? A Guide to Maritime and Admiralty Law

The sinking of the Titanic is one of the most famous and tragic maritime disasters to happen in history. On that fateful night, 1,517 lives ended. 

Because the sinking happened 375 nautical miles south of Canada, it was in international waters. This sort of accident is why admiralty law is so important. 

Not sure what maritime does or covers, well keep reading for an explanation. 

What Is Admiralty Law?

Admiralty or maritime law is a collection of agreements and laws that dictate behavior while on the open seas. It mainly governs actions that are taken in international waters. 

Once you enter waters that are a particular country’s territory, you then must abide by that country’s laws. Each country also applies its own laws to the lakes and rivers within its borders. 

The International Maritime Organization oversees the safety and security of shipping between countries on an international level. 

Where Does Maritime Law Come From? 

Many countries codify and give strength to the international laws. For the United States, maritime laws are generally considered to be federal laws. 

An exception to this is personal injury cases that occur on the water. They can end up in state court. Even when a case ends up in state court, federal laws will apply. 

Most maritime laws originate from British principles and common law. 

Maintenance and Cure 

One of the most common types of cases that maritime lawyers face is injury claims. Working in an industrial environment is difficult enough. 

It becomes exceedingly dangerous when you add the variable of continually moving ocean. Unfortunately, accidents, injuries, and sometimes, death happens. 

Lawmakers have considered this level of risk when creating law. They have included certain rights for workers, such as free medical care for injured workers. 

Maritime worker injuries are not the only thing covered. Companies or ship owners must also provide maintenance assistance to aid in the injured seaman surviving while he rehabilitates. 

If the seaman is forced to sue for their compensation, then maritime law also dictates that their attorney fees also be covered by the company or ship owner. 

Some owners try to avoid responsibility by offering a one-time payment. Injured seamen should consult with an attorney before accepting any settlement offered by their company. 

Why Use a Maritime Lawyer? 

Maritime law is a highly specialized field of law and attorneys that have not gone through specific training will not know the detailed particularities of the field. This will put you and your case at a disservice. 

The problem comes in when your lawyer is only familiar with state law. Unfortunately for your case, federal maritime law takes precedent. This means you and your lawyer can very quickly run afoul and put your case in jeopardy. 

Protect Yourself with Maritime Law 

If you’ve been injured while working on a ship, then you may have a case under admiralty law. The smartest thing you can do is speak with a maritime lawyer. 

They will evaluate the facts of your case and determine the best course of action for your claim. 

Are you interested in learning about more laws? Check out these ten crazy UK laws that will make you laugh. 

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