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What is Maritime Law and Why Would I Need A Maritime Attorney?

Updated on August 10, 2009
If you own a sailboat, you might need a Maritime Lawyer one day!
If you own a sailboat, you might need a Maritime Lawyer one day!

If you read my HUBS then you already know that I am self employed and work from home. Though I usually keep the television off during work hours, I often turn it on to watch the news (ok, I really watch Judge Judy) during lunch time. Anyway, I find it interesting that most of the commercials that are featured during the afternoon hours are for lawyers. I guess the television networks figure that if you are home during the afternoon, then you have been hurt on the job or have an illness caused by asbestos. One of the commercials that I saw the other day had to do with "how to find a Maritime Attorney." "Huh?" What in the world is a Maritime Attorney and why would I ever need one?

U.S. Maritime Attorneys (also known as Admiralty Attorneys) specialize in the area of the law governing navigation and shipping not only in U.S. tidal waters but any waters within the United States that happen to be used for navigation. Again, "Huh?"  Ok, in a nutshell, Maritime Attorneys assist their clients when it comes to issues having to do with water including marine insurance, towing of water vessels, hijackings, pleasure and recreation water craft, fishery issues, passengers and cargoes, offshore oil and gas rigs and maritime liens…just to name a few.

Three Examples When A Maritime Lawyer Would Come In Handy!

First Example: You and your family decide to spend the afternoon boating on the Chesapeake Bay. You are having a wonderful time when all of a sudden (through no fault of your own) another boat collides with yours causing extensive damage. When talking to the owner of the boat that hit yours, you smell alcohol. Of course, you should dial 911 to get immediate emergency assistance (and to document the situation) however, once you are on land, it is a good idea to search the internet for a Maritime Attorney and make an appointment for a consultation. The Maritime Attorney that you choose should be able to tell you if you have a good case.

Second Example: You work six months a year on an oil rig. Even though the work is quite dangerous, you enjoy your job. One day, while working on the rig, you slip and seriously hurt your back. Of course, you would file a workman's compensation claim; however, it would also be a good idea to retain a Maritime Attorney to assist you with your claim.

If you work on an oil rig and get hurt on the job, a Maritime Lawyer could represent you!
If you work on an oil rig and get hurt on the job, a Maritime Lawyer could represent you!

Third Example: You and your fiancé take a cruise to celebrate your new job. While you are on the cruise, a drunk crew member picks a fight with you and sucker-punches you right in the face. As a result, you suffer a broken jaw and require immediate (and follow-up) medical attention. You are out of work for thirty days. Though this example may sound a bit "far- fetched" this is a situation in which a Maritime Lawyer is a MUST! When cruise ship accidents occur (whether it be an issue having to do with maintenance or an incompetent member of the staff) you have RIGHTS!! By retaining a Maritime lawyer, you will be more likely to get the damages (such as lost wages and coverage of medical bills) that you are entitled to.

The world of laws and lawyers can be VERY confusing. In fact, from what I have seen with my own two eyes on afternoon television, there is a lawyer for just about EVERYTHING! Only a short time ago I had no idea that the field of Maritime Law even existed. Though I hope to never need one, it sure is nice to know that they exist! If you have an accident or problem and it has to do with water (or shipping and navigation) be sure to do an internet seach in order to find a lawyer that best fits your situation. Do your homework and be sure to get references before hiring anyone! Good luck and here's to NOT crashing your yacht into dry land!

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