If you have been injured on the water, you have probably already considered whether admiralty or maritime law, the Jones Act or some other area of law might cover your case. There is no question that the laws involving accident that occur on the water can be extremely complicated, so it makes sense that you would wondering what to do next.
First, take some time to read through some of the basic things you need to know about maritime law in general. This will help you know how best to pursue your claim.
Maritime law basics
There are two types of civil maritime cases. One involves contracts having to do with shipping on the high seas or other navigable waters. The other type involves accidents and acts on the high seas and navigable waters.
Since we are only concerned with accident cases in this discussion, we will focus on the second type, called maritime torts.
At the most basic level, tort cases involve injuries or losses that one party (the plaintiff) incurs that were caused by another party (the defendant). The plaintiff brings a lawsuit against the defendant to recover the costs of the injuries and damages suffered.
What does maritime tort law cover?
Maritime torts cover any kind of injury or losses incurred by another individual or entity, with some important nuances. The most important nuance is that, for a case to fall under maritime law, the incident that caused the damages or losses must occur on the high seas or navigable waters.
The elements of a maritime tort claim are:
- That the incident involves a vessel
- That the incident occurred on navigable waters of the United States, and
- That the occurrence bears a significant relationship to traditional maritime activities
Each of these elements has nuances and complications. This is not nearly as simple as it looks on the surface, but it is a helpful way to begin thinking about whether your case would be covered under maritime law.
Are river accidents covered under maritime law?
Yes. Assuming the above elements are otherwise met, and that the river in question is large enough to be used for waterway commerce, maritime law will likely cover the claim.
What is the significance of maritime law?
Whether or not your case is covered by maritime law has significance because most maritime claims fall under federal law and precedent. This means that only someone with experience handling these claims should take your case. Further, the statutes of limitations, the types of recovery available, the elements required to establish negligence and other factors could all be different in a maritime claim, depending on the specific type of accident claim you’re bringing.
What does this mean for you?
If you have been in an accident on a river in the United States, there is a good chance your case will be covered by Admiralty or Maritime law. This means you should talk with an experienced maritime lawyer right away because there are numerous complications and statutes of limitations that could impact your possible claim.