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Maritime Law Basics

If you live near the Gulf of Mexico, you’ve probably heard the terms “maritime law” or “admiralty law.” Most people understand, at a minimum, that maritime law, also known as admiralty law, has to do with the laws of the water. Of course, as you can probably imagine, maritime law is much more complicated than this. Maritime law is a unique area of the law that very few attorneys specialize in. Therefore, if you need assistance with a maritime law issue, it is recommended that you contact an experienced maritime law attorney. Below is an overview of the basics of maritime law.

What is maritime law?

The maritime industry is a critical component of Louisiana’s economy. However, maritime jobs are dangerous, and maritime workers often suffer serious personal injuries and fatalities. This is where maritime law comes into play. Maritime law is the body of law that governs private maritime business and other nautical issues, including maritime employee injuries, shipping issues, and offenses that take place on open water.

Maritime law jurisdiction 

Many people believe that all maritime law claims must be brought in federal court. This isn’t the case, however. Under certain circumstances, a seaman or a cruise ship passenger can elect to file a maritime lawsuit in state court. Thus, federal and state courts share concurrent jurisdiction to hear certain types of maritime claims, while others may only be filed in federal court.

Common types of maritime law claims

Maritime law broadly focuses on and encompasses all types of maritime-related claims. Maritime law is implicated when all of the following elements are present:

  • A vessel or ship is involved in an incident of some kind
  • The incident occurred on navigable waters
  • The incident bears a significant relationship to traditional maritime activity

Common types of maritime law claims include:

  • Fraud and breach-of-contract claims
  • Pollution and environmental claims
  • Violations involving navigational errors
  • Piracy and similar acts that take place on the water
  • In Rem claims brought against a vessel
  • Personal injury cases involving yacht guests, cruise ship passengers, crew members, and seaman aboard any type of vessel
  • Employment law issues involving transport companies and ship owners
  • Wrongful death cases involving yacht guests, cruise ship passengers, crew members, and seaman aboard any type of vessel

Contact a Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana maritime attorney

If you need assistance with a legal issue involving the maritime industry, you need a talented group of Lousiana and Gulf of Mexico admiralty and maritime lawyers on your side. At Koch & Schmidt, our experienced maritime attorneys serve clients in Southern Louisiana and the Texas Gulf Coast region. Regardless of your unique Louisiana maritime law issue, our talented legal team will do everything we can to ensure your Louisiana maritime law case has a successful outcome. Please contact us as soon as possible for a free evaluation of your Louisiana maritime law case.