Understanding Admiralty Law
Admiralty law is the body of law that governs ships, cargo, ports, wharves and commerce as it applies to navigable waters. Admiralty law is not the same as the law that applies on the open sea, which is referred to as the Law of the Sea. Admiralty law is an extension of the government’s jurisdiction that allows it to regulate and provide a legal framework for commerce on the sea in its area of jurisdiction. This is not an area of law that all lawyers will, or even can, practice. It is a specialty practice for lawyers and, if you have a legal case involving this particular type of law, you’ll need a specialist. For example, if you have a cruise ship injury, you need a cruise ship injury lawyer. A maritime lawyer can also help you deal with boat injury, oil rig injuries, injuries to longshoremen, and injuries on ferries.
Admiralty law isn’t always as esoteric as it sounds, however. It’s the legal framework that allows for the hearing of causes related contract disputes, labor relations involving maritime workers and much more. If you’re involved in a case that’s going to be heard in an Admiralty court, you’ll need a lawyer with specific training. Lawyers that practice this form of law have additional training beyond the basic requirements for being a lawyer and are generally in high demand because of the specialty nature of the law.
The problems that people oftentimes run into on the seas are much the same as they do on land. Admiralty cases sometimes involve property damage that occurs at sea or at port and, in these cases, the litigant may be seeking financial compensation. Fishers, rig workers and other workers who ply their trade on the high seas will also be covered under this law if they have a dispute about a contract, a dispute about pay or a dispute about being made to work in unsafe conditions or in violation of the terms of their contracts.
There are some significant differences between Admiralty law and the law as it applies on land. For example, there are very complex laws that govern the right of private entities to salvage cargo and ships that are distressed or lost. These laws are very specific and, for salvage operations, they provide the guidelines for what ships and cargo are fair game and which are off limits. Of course, this is much different than it is on land. There is no occasion, for example, where you could salvage someone’s car and sell it off simply because it was abandoned in a ditch. At sea, the situation is much different.
If you’re dealing with a legal issue and Admiralty law applies, make very certain that you hire a lawyer who is more than familiar with it. You’ll need an expert attorney to provide you with competent representation. You’ll also need to consult with them to see if you have a case or not. In some instances, it may be true that you’d have a viable case against someone on land, but the situation may be much different at sea and you’ll need an attorney who knows this area of law inside and out.