Admirality Law

Florida Admirality Law Attorneys

Admiralty law, also known as maritime law, is the collection of regulations that governs the shipping and navigation industry (on rivers, lakes and oceans, as opposed to on the highway or interstate system). It’s responsible for determining whom is responsible for injuries sustained while aboard a ship, as well as in related areas like docks and on shore.

Specific Areas for Specific Workers

Unlike worker’s compensation, admiralty law distinguishes between specific types of workers. Depending on where you work in the maritime industry, you will be covered by a different act. For instance, the Jones Act covers those who work on ships at sea, or while the vessel is docked. However, workers not classed as seamen (harbor workers and longshoremen, for instance), are protected under the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Act.

Admiralty Law for Cruise Ship Passengers

While most of the body of admiralty law was created to protect workers in the industry, there are sections that are designed to help protect passengers, including cruise ship passengers. There are numerous potential hazards for passengers, from slips and falls to the threat of contagious disease (which has played out in recent headlines), as well as the potential for disaster (sinking cruise ships are nothing new). If you are injured while aboard a cruise ship, admiralty law spells out who is responsible and to what extent.

Potential Passenger Claims

There are numerous potential disasters that can befall cruise ship passengers that don’t involve contagious diseases or the ship sinking. These can include:

  • Contaminated Food or Water – Aboard ship, you have no choice but to eat and drink what is provided, and ship food and water can sometimes be stored improperly, or become contaminated with bacteria.
  • Falling Overboard – While there are plenty of safety features designed to help prevent this, falling overboard is a very real possibility, particularly in heavy seas, storms and other conditions.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents – If you slip and fall, injuring yourself aboard ship, it might not be your fault if the ship’s crew created conditions conducive to slipping and falling.
  • Pool Accidents – Cruise ships can have amazing swimming pools for guests to enjoy, but that doesn’t mean your use will be safe. Pool accidents can happen even under the best of circumstances.
  • Shipboard Fire – A fire aboard a ship is a scary thought, and even a small fire can be damaging. If you have been injured or your possessions damaged in a shipboard fire, admiralty law may cover your case.
  • Malpractice – If you had occasion to visit the ship’s clinic and feel that the medical provider was negligent or there was malpractice, you have rights under the law.
  • Assault/Sexual Assault – If you or a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault or other form of assault at the hands of another passenger or staff member, you have rights under admiralty law.

The problem for cruise ship passengers is that there is often an exceptionally narrow window during which you can file a claim or lodge a complaint or lawsuit. Often, it is only six months, although some may be up to three years. Once that window closes, you are essentially “out of luck”. You’ll find these limitations spelled out in the fine print on your cruise ship ticket, and sometimes available in brochures and website FAQs from cruise ship operators.

At the law offices of Casey D. Shomo, we specialize in many forms of admiralty law. We can provide a consultation on your needs to help you determine the best way to move forward. Even if you think the statute of limitations has lapsed, contact our firm and speak with us about your situation.