Admiralty and Maritime law encompasses the rules and procedures governing navigation and commerce by water. Although the majority of admiralty and maritime law issues involve international trade on the high seas, seaman’s injuries are also a prevalent issue.

Common Questions Concerning Admiralty and Maritime Law

What is a Bill of Lading?
The bulk of maritime commercial activity involves the carriage or transport of goods internationally. The most important document used in this type of transaction is a bill of lading. A bill of lading is basically a multiparty contract of carriage or transportation between the carrier (ship owner), seller of the goods, and the purchaser.

What Happens if My Goods are Lost or Damaged at Sea?
The basic statute regulating compensation for lost or damaged goods in maritime situations is the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA). COGSA requires ship owners to:

  • Make their vessels seaworthy
  • Properly equip, supply and man their vessels
  • Make the holds, cooling compartments, and all other areas where the goods are to be stored fit and safe for their reception, preservation, and carriage.

If a ship owner fails in any of the above, they may be liable for the damaged or lost goods. COGSA only applies to cases of international shipment.

What Does International Law have to do with Maritime Law?
Admiralty and Maritime law is heavily intertwined with International Law. Determining what law applies to a dispute over the high seas can be a complicated matter. Most often, determining which admiralty laws apply depends on the flag the ship displays. For instance, a ship flying the French flag in American waters is subject to French Admiralty Law.

Do I Need an Attorney Specializing in Admiralty and Maritime Law?

Because of the complex nature of maritime law, it would be wise to consult with a liability attorney specializing in both admiralty law as well as international law. Speaking with the right admiralty and maritime lawyer will enable you to understand your rights and to preserve any possible remedies.