Admiralty Maritime:

Maritime Law Explained

Maritime law covers legal affairs between ship owners, crew members, cargoes and passengers on the high seas and navigable waters. The U.S. Constitution allows federal judicial power to maritime law cases. The Judiciary Act of 1789 offered the federal district courts jurisdiction in maritime lawsuits and made the Supreme Court the final authority of admiralty law disputes.

Maritime law originates from customs of the early Mediterranean seafaring nations. Because the basic dangers of the sea have not changed, today’s maritime law is a combination of ancient rules and new laws.

Maritime law covers seamen who are injured on vessels sailing on navigable waters and offshore oil rigs that aren’t permanently affixed to the ocean floor. The word seaman refers to:

  • Employees on a sea vessel who help in the main purpose of the voyage
  • Employees on a sea vessel to which an American corporation holds legal title and another American corporation operates under demise charter
  • Those performing maritime duties rendered on sea vessels engaged in trade or commerce on navigable waters