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What Is A Maritime Lawyer?


The law is complex, and among the most complex facets of the law lies jurisdiction. Which court has the standing to hear a case? As it turns out, this question is quite important because it establishes what rules the court will use to decide the case.

For incidents that occur on the high seas, the matter is complicated by jurisdictional issues. You can’t use state laws to decide issues and federal laws aren’t appropriate either. So the law created a jurisdiction known as maritime jurisdiction to fill in the gap.

Today, it is possible for a state or federal government to charge someone with a crime they commit aboard a vessel. It is also possible to file a lawsuit against the vessel’s owner or the company that manages the vessel. However, the laws relating to maritime jurisdiction have not been updated in centuries. Hence, why you might need a maritime lawyer.

When does maritime law apply? 

Maritime law applies to ships on navigable waters. In some cases, this will even include riverboats and the like. However, incidents that occur on the high seas are much more likely to require maritime jurisdiction. Those who suffer injuries aboard these vessels are better served by maritime lawyers than simple personal injury attorneys.

When do I need a maritime lawyer? 

Maritime lawyers provide a number of legal services to our clients. Personal injury lawyers tend only to file tort lawsuits on behalf of injured plaintiffs. Why wouldn’t you want a personal injury lawyer to try your maritime case? Essentially, personal injury lawyers try lawsuits under their own state’s law. Maritime lawsuits are almost never tried under state law. Most cases are forced into federal court by passenger agreements. So most personal injury attorneys won’t necessarily have the ability to try a case.

Maritime lawyers require additional skills and training to become certified as maritime lawyers. Personal injury lawyers need only pass the bar.

Types of cases maritime lawyers handle 

Maritime lawyers are best suited for:

  • Injuries that occur on cruise ships or pleasure boats
  • Boat accident lawsuits involving serious injury or death
  • Crew and seaman injuries and disputes
  • Offshore injuries

Why do I need a maritime lawyer? 

Injuries that occur on boats or at sea usually require maritime lawyers to resolve. The issues related to jurisdiction are too complex and boat operators have considerable leeway when it comes to designing ticket stubs that are legal contracts. Almost every case you can think of will find its way into federal court under maritime jurisdiction where the rules regarding tort or injury actions are substantially different from the federal government’s or the State of Florida’s laws. So it’s important to have an attorney who understands these issues involved as early as possible in your lawsuit.

Talk to a Miami Maritime Attorney Today 

If you’ve been injured on the seas or are a crew member aboard a ship, call Miami admiralty & maritime attorney Michael F. Guilford today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your situation in more detail.

  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

It's Your Time To Win

Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998