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When Does Maritime Law Apply vs. Common Law?

November 29, 2023
Personal Injury

Understanding Your Rights If You Are Injured in Florida Waters

If you are injured in Florida, you may wonder what laws apply to you and whether you have the right to compensation. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine how to proceed with your case and whether maritime law or common law would apply, given the circumstances. 

What Is Maritime Law?

Maritime law generally comes into play when there is a dispute or accident on navigable waters. Navigable waters are those that are used for trade, travel, or commerce between states or foreign nations. Maritime workers, such as seamen, may also be covered under specific laws such as the Jones Act, which allows them to recover damages against their employer if they are injured on the job.

Maritime law is a unique area of practice. If you are injured while on the water or are a maritime worker with a grievance against your employer, you need to speak with a lawyer who has extensive experience handling maritime law cases. Unlike general personal injury law, maritime law has a specific set of rules. 

Individuals may also be entitled to different damages under maritime law, such as maintenance and cure. Maintenance refers to the payments that maritime workers may receive for their living expenses, including room and board, if they are injured while working. Cure refers to the payments that are entitled to receive for their medical bills. 

What Is Common Law?

Common law is a set of laws that are derived from legal precedents. Determining whether common law or maritime law applies to a boating accident can be challenging without the help of an attorney. 

Federal maritime laws may come into play if you are injured in a boating accident that occurs on navigable waters or if you are a maritime worker, whereas state law may be your sole recourse if you are injured in a boating accident in coastal waters. 

Both common law and maritime law have a different set of rules and procedures that you must follow, and each has its own set of damages that you may receive. An attorney can help you navigate the legal process and determine which set of laws apply to your individual situation. 

What to Do If You Are Injured in Florida

If you are injured in Florida, you need to act quickly. First, you should always contact 9-1-1 to report any accident or injury. Florida law requires that you report most boating accidents to local law enforcement, particularly if there is an injury or death. If you are a passenger or crew member on a ship, you need to report the incident to the captain or your superior. Documenting the accident is essential. 

You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. Failing to seek medical attention could negatively impact your case and your recovery. When you are able, you need to consider consulting with an attorney who is familiar with both common law and maritime law. 

Contact Our Office to Learn More

At Mase Seitz Briggs, we represent individuals who have been seriously injured in boating and maritime accidents throughout South Florida. Contact our office today at (844) 627-3529 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

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