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Admiralty and maritime

Maritime law, also referred to as admiralty law, consists of the statutes and case precedents that govern legal disputes originating on navigable waters. Navigable waters include all bodies of water that are capable of being used for interstate or foreign commerce. Thus, a large river that flows into the ocean or crosses state lines would fall within maritime jurisdiction. A lake entirely within a single state would not. 

This area of the law deals with a variety of factual scenarios. Examples include commercial accidents resulting in damage to vessels and cargo, seamen injuries, and hazardous material spills. Maritime law can also apply to piracy and criminal activity, liens against a ship, wake damage, and towage contracts. Furthermore, in an increasing number of cases, jurisdiction has been upheld in recreational boating accidents that occur on navigable waters. 

Cases in which maritime law applies are heard in federal court, pursuant to Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Alternatively, under 28 USC §1333, a plaintiff may elect to file suit in state court, but federal law will still apply. Maritime laws are enacted by Congress in accordance with its constitutional authority to regulate commerce with foreign countries and between the states. 

The shipping of cargo is the primary activity conducted in the open ocean. Following an accident, litigation can arise over who is responsible for the lost or damaged cargo. In cases of foreign trade in which American law applies, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) applies. This law, made part of every bill of lading, limits a ship owner's liability to $500 per container, as long as the ship was in proper condition prior to departure. 

Admiralty law also deals with disputes concerning salvage awards. These cases involve vessels or other property that have been saved from peril, or recovered from the bottom of the ocean. By law, the rescuer is entitled to a reward for taking the risks necessary to conduct the salvage. The size of the reward may be determined by contract. Otherwise, courts will decide based on factors such as the value of the property and the degree of risk involved. 

Compensation for Injured Passengers and Seamen 

Personal injury cases governed by maritime law raise unique issues requiring an attorney who specializes in such matters. For example, the legal rights of passengers hurt by the negligence of a cruise line will be curtailed by the terms of their ticket. In most cases this means the time limit for filing suit will be one year instead of three, and notice may be required in as little as six months. 

For sailors hurt on the job, recovering compensation under maritime law can be even more complex. Federal legislation known as the Jones Act, found at 46 USC §883, sets forth the rights of injury victims who qualify as "seamen." A seaman is a male or female crew member whose service meets certain requirements under the act. This determination alone will often require consultation with legal counsel. 

If the Jones Act applies, the injured crew member will be entitled to a jury trial and other protections similar to those afforded to injured railroad workers. The purpose of the legislation is to provide a fair process for sailors to file a negligence claim and receive compensation from their employer. Should the negligent act of an employer or coworker result in death, surviving family members are permitted to file suit. 

Employees who do not qualify as seamen under the Jones Act have other means available for collecting injury compensation. The Doctrine of Unseaworthiness imposes a duty on ship owners to maintain and equip their vessels properly. If they do not, they will be liable for any resulting injuries to crew members. Similarly, the law of "maintenance and cure" requires employers to pay the expenses of injured crew members following an accident. 

Federal maritime law combines modern legislation, centuries-old doctrines, international treaties, private contracts, and more into a single set of interdependent legal rules. Even in coastal cities, most personal injury lawyers are not proficient in admiralty law, and will not accept these cases. Those with legal rights or interests that may be affected by this area of the law are strongly encouraged to retain a specialist. 

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Evan Michael Ostfeld
Evan Michael Ostfeld
226

5421 N. University Dr., #102 Coral Springs Prof. Campus, Coral Springs, FL 33067-4638

Bar #992232(FL)     License for 1993 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Defective and dangerous products | Personal injury | Social security | Workers compensation | Wrongful death
Brian Frank LaBovick
Brian Frank LaBovick
56

5220 Hood Road #200, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

Bar #870810(FL)     License for 1990 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Car accident | Personal injury | Trucking accident | Wrongful death
Timothy C. Nies
Timothy C. Nies
46

900 SE Ocean Boulevard Suite 140-E, Stuart, FL 34994-2471

Bar #496057(FL)     License for 2001 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Brain injury | Criminal defense | Divorce and separation | Domestic violence | Family | Litigation | Medical malpractice | Motorcycle accident | Personal injury | Uncontested divorce | Wrongful death
David Thomas Aronberg
David Thomas Aronberg
35

2160 West Altantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33445

Bar #75140(FL)     License for 1996 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Defective and dangerous products | Entertainment | Insurance | Litigation | Medical malpractice | Motorcycle accident | Personal injury | Slip and fall accident | Trucking accident
Stephen Ashley Barnes
Stephen Ashley Barnes
34

505 S. Magnolia Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

Bar #5177(FL)     License for 1994 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Brain injury | Medical malpractice | Personal injury | Slip and fall accident | Wrongful death
Howard Edward Chappell
Howard Edward Chappell
23

5237 Summerlin Commons Blvd. Suite 366, Fort Myers, FL 33919

Bar #543381(FL)     License for 2002 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Business | Medical malpractice | Personal injury | Wrongful death
John Mansfield Ervin
John Mansfield Ervin
19

100 S. Ashley Drive Suite 620, Tampa, FL 33602

Bar #48591(FL)     License for 2008 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Business | Contracts and agreements | Corporate and incorporation | Estate planning | Limited liability company (LLC) | Tax
John Phillip Fischer
John Phillip Fischer
19

4601 Sheridan Street Suite 320, Hollywood, FL 33021

Bar #99751(FL)     License for 2012 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Car accident | Medical malpractice | Personal injury | Slip and fall accident | Wrongful death
Courtney Jared Bannan
Courtney Jared Bannan
15

3325 Hollywood Boulevard Suite 402, Hollywood, FL 330213428

Bar #703931(FL)     License for 2004 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Business | Real estate | Securities offerings
J Andrew Talbert
J Andrew Talbert
15

114 E Gregory Street, Pensacola, FL 32502-4970

Bar #106003(FL)     License for 1997 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Admiralty and maritime | Appeals | Aviation | Banking | Business | Civil rights | Defective and dangerous products | Estate planning | Government | Insurance | Litigation | Military law | Nursing home abuse and neglect | Personal injury | Real estate

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