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Admiralty and Maritime Law

Admiralty and Maritime LawWhat is Admiralty?

Admiralty law, also known as maritime law, addresses both civil and criminal matters involved with navigation and shipping. In the United States, all questions related to admiralty fall under the review of the federal courts, and applies to all waters navigable for interstate or foreign commerce. Where the body of water is landlocked within a state, however, state courts typically have jurisdiction.

Admiralty or maritime law addresses a wide range of issues, including:

  • Shipping and commerce
  • The rights of seamen
  • Personal injury to passengers on boats or ships
  • Navigation
  • The construction or operation of wharves, piers and docks
  • Insurance related to maritime ventures
  • Maritime liens
  • Recreational boating
  • Piracy

Maintenance and Cure

Under the common law of admiralty, the owner of a ship is obligated to provide medical care to an injured seaman, at no cost, until the seaman has attained “maximum medical cure.” This includes a requirement that the ship owner pay for medication or medical devices necessary to improve the seaman’s ability to function, including wheelchairs, prostheses, pain medication and long-term treatments. The ship owner must also pay for basic living expenses while the seaman is convalescing.

Personal Injuries to Passengers

The owner of a ship has a duty of reasonable care to ensure the safety of passengers. Injured passengers may seek damages under a general theory of negligence.

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