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Admiralty Law

Ships and boats can travel in US waters but the operators of these water vessels must be knowledgeable about admiralty law. Injuries, deaths and damaged cargo falls under the responsibility of both the captains as well as the ship owners.

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Admiralty Law

All water vessels and ships originating from the US are governed by Admiralty law, whether they are in international waters or not. Traditionally, maritime law applies to lakes, rivers and ports within the United States as well as all other bodies of water in the world. More specifically, if a ship or boat is owned by a US citizen, then all activities that occur on board will fall into the maritime law jurisdiction.

In Article III, admiralty law is outlined and described in detail. Maritime cases can be heard either in a federal or a state level court, depending on where the alleged offense took place. Examples of cases in which admiralty law would be applicable include; ship ownership disputes, unauthorized fishing in private waters, commercial activities in a restricted area, water pollution and injury at sea. Most commercial vessels are required to be licensed and inspected upon departure and arrival.

At US and foreign ports, all water vessels entering or exiting a country must go through customs. US admiralty laws may allow for a particular vessel to leave the country and travel in international waters, but for a ship to dock in another country it will need to have prior permission. US admiralty law can only be used to prosecute the operators of ships originating in foreign countries if they enter US waters and are apprehended by US authorities.

The statute of limitations is somewhat limited when maritime law is concerned. Freight that is lost, damaged or stolen in transit falls under the responsibility of the ship owner unless justifiable cause is found proving that one of the 17 provisions listed in Article III is applicable. Accidental and wrongful death cases must be filed within three years of the alleged offense. Anything happens within or on a body of water belonging to the US also falls within admiralty law, which includes oil rigs, docks and underwater sea vessels.

The employees of boating companies can also request to have their cases heard by admiralty judges. Passengers on board cruise liners may use maritime courts, however, there are sometimes caps on the amount of money that can be awarded if the plaintiff is found guilty. When a water vessel is seized, abandoned or if ownership is contended, admiralty courts will legally maintain possession until a ruling is made. Lawyers specializing in maritime law can be found in all 50 states. The are sometimes used in other US court systems for federal, military or civil cases.

26.07.2009. 19:54



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