Click to call now!
firm logo

What Is Admiralty Law?

May 15, 2023

What Do You Need to Know About Admiralty Law?

Admiralty law is the body of law that regulates disputes, torts, and offenses that occur on navigable waters. Navigable waters are any waterways that can be used for interstate or foreign commerce, such as tidal waters, rivers, harbors, and canals. Issues covered by admiralty law include, but are not limited to:

  • Cruise ship accidents
  • Injuries to crewmen on ships, tugboats, barges, ferries, tour boats, and other vessels
  • Commercial diving accidents
  • The harm caused by unseaworthy vessels
  • Injuries to workers on docks, wharves, and piers
  • Hazardous material accidents on waterways

In the US, admiralty law mainly focuses on cases involving maritime commerce, but it is often extended to include recreational boating incidents that occur on navigable waters as well. Because admiralty law is a separate area of law with its own unique governing statutes, it is vital for plaintiffs with these types of cases to seek out the services of a personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in the complexities of maritime accidents.

Are Admiralty Law and Maritime Law Different?

Law systems governing American maritime issues have existed since colonial times. At that point, admiralty law referred to the British admiralty courts that handled naval discipline, piracy, and similar cases. Maritime law was a separate entity that typically focused more on claims regarding the working conditions, wages, and injuries of sailors. Following the American Revolution, the Judiciary Act placed all maritime cases under the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts. Due to this action, the terms admiralty law and maritime law can be used interchangeably today.

Where Are Admiralty Law Cases Heard?

As noted above, the authors of the US Constitution delegated all admiralty cases to the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts. However, 28 US Code § 1333, also known as the Savings to Suitors Clause, allows most plaintiffs filing an admiralty law case to choose whether to file the claim in state or federal court. There are some rare situations where the maritime case must be brought to federal court, but the majority of claims for maritime accidents and injuries can be heard by either court.

The same legal principles must be applied no matter which court hears the maritime action. However, one advantage of bringing your case to state court is the right to have a jury of your peers hear the case. In federal court, most cases are decided by a judge. The question of which jurisdiction is best for your case can depend on a number of factors, but a knowledgeable maritime law attorney can examine your situation and help you decide the best way to proceed through the system.

What Statutes Specifically Apply to Maritime Personal Injury Claims?

The range of cases covered by admiralty law is vast. The exact laws that will govern your maritime personal injury claim will vary based on where it occurred, the cause of the accident, the status of your employment, and other details. Your maritime accident lawyer will explain your legal rights and options for your specific claim based on the applicable laws. Although every case is different, some statutes that commonly play a role in maritime actions include:

  • Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA): This federal act provides compensation for employees who work on navigable US waters or in adjacent areas, such as wharves, piers, and docks, and are not eligible for benefits under the Jones Act. The LHWCA covers injuries, including occupational diseases and illnesses caused by the worker’s job, regardless of who was at fault. Benefits provided by the LHWCA include payment for medical care, lost wages, vocational training for new positions, and disability payments, if applicable.
  • Jones Act: Besides establishing regulations for maritime commerce, vessel safety and maintenance, and employment standards for companies who ship goods between US ports, the Jones Act extends the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to seamen. The Jones Act gives seamen employed as part of the crew of a vessel the right to hold their employer liable if they are injured while performing their duties. A seaman can also bring a lawsuit against their employer if their injury was caused by an unseaworthy vessel or was exacerbated by a lack of proper medical care.
  • Public Vessels Act (PVA): Prior to the PVA, the government had sovereign immunity from maritime personal injury lawsuits. Following the passage of the PVA in 1925, maritime workers could file suit against the government for damages related to injuries caused by employer negligence sustained on a public vessel. Examples of public vessels include ferries and other public transportation vessels, Coast Guard vessels, firefighting boats, and government-owned vessels operated by private contractors.
  • Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA): Maritime work can be hazardous. If a seaman dies aboard a ship that is out to sea and employer negligence is involved, surviving close family members can file a lawsuit for damages under DOHSA. This act also covers individuals who have died due to an aircraft crash in international waters. Compensation families may be able to seek includes funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, and counseling costs.

Why Is It Critical to Hire a Maritime Accident Lawyer for Your Case?

Admiralty law is a complex web of legislation, rules, international treaties, doctrines, and more. It can be overwhelming for individuals attempting to navigate this confusing system on their own. The Law Offices of Preston Easley has extensive experience with admiralty law cases and will fight to ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to under the law. However, time is of the essence when filing these cases because there are often short filing windows, and critical evidence can quickly disappear. To make certain you do not miss your opportunity to hold those responsible for your pain and suffering accountable, contact our law firm today at 310-361-9484.

Schedule Your Free

Cases We Handle

  • maritime worker working on ship

    Longshoremen & Shipyard Workers

    Longshoring and shipyard work are very dangerous occupations. Workers in these fields, along with marine construction workers, are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, a very generous no-fault workers’ compensation system. It covers medical expenses, temporary disability, permanent disability and vocational rehabilitation.

    Read More
  • sea vessel docked at US shore

    Jones Act Seamen

    A seaman is a member of the crew of a vessel or group of vessels under common ownership or control. The vessel can be anything from a raft to a cargo ship. We represent seamen who work aboard recreational vessels, tugboats, dredges, barges, skiffs, workboats and cargo ships. We also represent seamen who are marine construction workers

    Read More
  • Diving

    We represent people who have been injured in SCUBA diving accidents and Commercial diving accidents. We also handle diving boat accidents. Diving can be very dangerous. We successfully represented a commercial diver who was seriously injured while cleaning the propeller of a U.S. Navy ship at Pearl Harbor

    Read More
  • accident at construction site and hard hat on floor

    Construction & Industrial Accidents

    Construction and industrial sites can be very dangerous. Although you generally cannot sue your own employer for a construction site or industrial accident (generally workers’ compensation is your exclusive remedy against your employer) there are many circumstances in which you can file a third party lawsuit against an entity other than your employer for an unsafe condition at a work site which causes you to be injured

    Read More
  • Forklift and Crane Injuries Lawyer

    Crane & Forklift Accidents

    The Easley firm has extensive experience with crane and forklift accidents and workplace accidents involving dangerous equipment and machinery. These accidents can be caused by operator error and they can be caused by the unsafe and defective condition of the equipment

    Read More
  • auto accident involving two cars on a city street

    Motor Vehicle & Truck Accidents

    Motor vehicle accidents can result in serious injury and death. These kinds of accidents can involve automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and unsafe road design and unsafe road conditions

    Read More
  • Catamaran Injuries Attorney

    Passenger Vessel Accidents

    Passenger accidents are common on recreational vessels, catamarans, tour boats and cruise ships.  They are frequently caused by rough sea conditions and unsafe conditions aboard the vessels.  The Easley firm has extensive experience in the field of maritime law.  We have made new law in the field of maritime law with numerous precedent setting decisions in the State Appellate Courts, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court

    Read More
  • Defense Base Act

    The Defense Base Act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act which covers civilian employees of U.S. defense contractors injured overseas, including war zones. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensations Act as extended by the Defense Base Act is a very generous no fault workers’ compensation system

    Read More

Areas Where We Practice

Preston Easley is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He served five years of active duty as a Naval officer — three years as a deck officer on a fast frigate and two years as a patrol boat skipper. Mr. Easley also served aboard a tank landing ship in the reserves.




Let Us Get You The Compensation You Deserve

Preston Easley is an experienced lawyer with considerable expertise in handling federal and state personal injury cases. He will aggressively seek the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. Attorney Easley represents victims of serious and fatal accidents involving cars, trucks, construction projects and maritime work.

Construction Workers We Help

  • Crane and Forklift Operators
  • Pile Drivers
  • Scaffold Workers
  • Iron Workers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Operating Engineers
  • Electricians

Maritime Workers We Help

  • National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) Shipyard Workers
  • Manson Construction Company Workers
  • Manson Dredging Workers
  • Dutra Dredging Workers
  • Commercial Divers
  • Scuba Divers
  • Commercial Fisherman
  • Government Maritime Claims Against the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers, or the US Coast Guard, etc.
  • Marine Construction Workers
  • Offshore Oil and Gas Workers
  • Seamen
  • Shipyard Workers
  • YYK Enterprises, Inc.
  • Pacific Tugboat Service
  • Long Beach Container Terminal
  • Tugboat, Dredge, Longshoremen, and Ferry Workers
  • Barge Crews and Barge Workers
  • Marisco Limited
  • HL Welding
  • SSA Marine
  • Catalina Express
  • R.E. State Engineering
  • Shimmick Construction
  • Nova Group
  • American Scaffolding
  • Safway Scaffolding
  • Kirby Tugs
  • Crowley Tugboats
  • P&R Water Taxi
  • Continental Maritime
  • Pacific Ship Repair
  • Seaward Marine
  • Healy Tibbitts
  • General Construction
  • BAE Shipyards
  • South Coast Welding
  • Matson
  • Pasha
  • Hawaii Stevedores, Inc.
  • McCabe, Hamilton & Renny
  • Young Brothers
  • Sause Bros.
  • Foss Maritime
  • Fenix Marine Services
  • ITS
  • Total Terminals
  • TraPac
  • PCMC
  • Maersk
  • Yang Ming
  • China Overseas Shipping
  • Evergreen

Boating Accidents

  • Catamaran Accidents
  • Charter and Tour Boats
  • Cruise Ship Accidents
  • Passenger Accidents
  • Jet Ski and Personal Watercraft
  • Motorboat Accidents
  • Recreational Accidents
  • Scuba Diving Accidents
  • Speed Boat Accidents
  • Yachts and Sail Boat Accidents
  • Repair Accidents
  • Crew Accidents
310-773-5207© 2024 Preston Easley. All Rights Reserved.Disclaimer.Site Map.