Maritime and admiralty laws have a lot in common, although there are some key differences between them. Most differences are historical, and the two bodies of law significantly overlap today.
The primary difference between admiralty law and maritime law is their origin. Admiralty law was developed in England and was meant to cover trade and commerce issues on the high seas. Maritime law was later developed to protect workers and seamen injured on the high seas. Today, admiralty and maritime law are largely considered the same thing, and the terms are used interchangeably. Even so, there are other important distinctions. Admiralty law often covers procedure and jurisdiction, while maritime law encompasses a lot of substantive laws. These laws are federal in nature and tend to cover accidents, injuries, or disputes at sea. Injuries on cruise ships and other commercial vessels are common in maritime and admiralty law.
If you were injured at sea while working on a commercial vessel or a cruise vacation, our maritime accident and injury lawyers can help you. For a free case assessment, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369.
The Difference Between Admiralty and Maritime Laws?
Maritime law and admiralty law began separately and converged later on. Although their differences are mostly historical, some key distinctions still exist today. Even so, maritime law and admiralty law tend to cover the same or similar cases and are heard in the same federal courts. Currently, they work together and are so closely intertwined that they are often regarded as the same. Our maritime accident and injury attorneys can help you determine if you have a case for maritime and admiralty courts.
Admiralty law originated in British courts and dealt primarily with issues of trade on the high seas. It was difficult to determine which body of law to apply when a dispute arose between ports of different national origins. Admiralty law created a separate body of law dealing exclusively with sea trade and commerce issues.
Today, admiralty law may refer to federal jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime law issues. Many cases that involve maritime laws are heard in admiralty courts. In that sense, admiralty law can be thought of as more procedural, governing how and where cases are heard. However, this difference is relatively minor, and admiralty and maritime law are generally regarded as a single area of law.
Maritime law is thought to have developed sometime after admiralty law. Maritime law has roots in the growing need to protect seamen and ship workers who were injured at sea or subject to unsafe working conditions. As maritime law evolved, it merged with admiralty law, and the two are more or less considered the same today. Our boat accident and injury lawyers can assist you with claims arising from issues or injuries at sea or on navigable waters.
Maritime law covers most, if not all, accidents, injuries, and disputes involving trade and travel on the high seas or other navigable waters. Maritime law is a federal body of law. Since most maritime laws involve international and interstate trade, commerce, and travel, the law falls under federal jurisdiction. As mentioned earlier, maritime law and admiralty law are largely the same body of law today.
How Maritime Law and Admiralty Law Work Together
Although admiralty law and maritime have separate origins, they are designed to cover many of the same issues and disputes. Maritime law sort of acted as an expansion of older admiralty law to cover injuries to workers and seamen, not just trade disputes involving ship owners. As such, maritime and admiralty law are interchangeable terms referring to the same legal field.
Admiralty law is said to have created jurisdiction over disputes at sea, while maritime expanded the law on a more substantive level. Although these two bodies of law started as separate systems, the differences between them have been blurred with time.
In the United States Constitution, under Article III, § 2, certain cases and legal disputes are reserved for federal jurisdiction. This section of the Constitution specifically mentions admiralty and maritime issues under federal jurisdiction.
When Do Maritime Laws and Admiralty Laws Apply?
Admiralty and maritime law often apply in cases involving injuries or disputes at sea. Maritime law often covers issues of sea trade and commerce. For example, if a shipping company failed to load all of a customer’s freight onto a ship, that customer could file a claim against the shipping company for breach of contract in an admiralty court. Maritime law, rather than ordinary state law, would control the outcome of the lawsuit.
While maritime and admiralty might have originally been designed to handle legal and contractual disputes involving sea trade, it has expanded to include injuries and accidents at sea. People often go on vacation on cruise ships or charter boats or yachts for fun. If a passenger or crewmember were injured in an accident while at sea, their injury case would fall under federal maritime law.
Maritime law also covers injured people who regularly work at sea. For example, commercial fishermen or seamen who catch crabs and lobsters might be injured on the job. Under maritime law, there might not be things like Workers’ Compensation. Our Miami boat accident and injury lawyers can help employees injured at sea get compensation in admiralty courts.
Depending on the situation, certain maritime and admiralty laws also protect dock workers who are not actually injured on board a vessel or at sea. If you were injured on a dock or at a marina, your injury case might involve maritime law. You should seek the advice of a skilled lawyer to determine whether your case involves maritime law.
Call Our Maritime Accident and Injury Attorneys for a Free Case Evaluation
If you were injured at sea or are in the midst of a dispute involving sea trade, commerce, or business, you might be involved in maritime and admiralty law. Our Tampa boat accident and injury lawyers can help you get your case started in the right court. For a free case review, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369.