Summer fun can sometimes result in a recreational boating accident. A maritime personal injury, or, death while boating can result in admiralty (or "maritime" -- they're interchangeable terms) law applying instead of state law. When federal maritime law applies it can change the outcome of your boating accident lawsuit making it worthwhile to have some general information about five legal issues that are sometimes encountered in the maritime law.
- A vessel subject to a maritime lien can be arrested in an "in rem" action. This means that the vessel is taken into the Court's custody by U.S. Marshals.
- A boat owner facing liability may be able to seek exoneration from or limitation of his/her liability under the Limitation of Liability Act -- an act that applies both to recreational and commercial vessels.
- A maritime lien is sometimes referred to as a "mean hidden lien" and for good reason. A maritime lien arises automatically and can follow the boat from port to port and between different owners.
- A claimant pursuing a pure admiralty claim is generally not able to seek a jury trial. However, under certain circumstances an experienced maritime attorney may be able to assist you in obtaining a jury trial under something called the "Savings to Suitors Clause."
- There is some case law holding that the determinations made by the protest committee in the context of a sailing regatta can be binding on future civil litigation. This possibility may pose some big downstream problems and consideration should be given to hiring a maritime lawyer to assist you in navigating such a circumstance.
Whether your maritime claim arises in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina or Florida, there are many unique federal maritime legal issues that may arise.
Underway and making way.
By John Fulweiler
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