What are the international maritime laws?

1,590 Views Updated: 14 Nov 2016
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What are the international maritime laws?

Maritime law is also known as “admiralty law” or “law of admiralty” encompasses the legislative measures supervising international agreements and treaties governing activities undertaken in navigable water. Serving as a body of domestic law and private law, maritime laws addresses matters associated with offenses, navigation, trade and commerce, shipping of goods, sailors, and transportation of passengers and goods across the sea. Though every distinct legislation jurisdiction has its unique laws and regulations governing maritime activities, many international maritime laws are addressed through multilateral treaties.

Being a specialized field of law, maritime legislation can be highly complex. State and federal courts can legislate on cases concerning injury, damage to cargoes or maritime products. Filing a maritime case involves careful observation of contributing factors by assessing the severity of the case and whether the ship owner or the members of a different party is liable for its cause. The consultation of maritime lawyers and attorneys to address related situations becomes necessary due to the complications pertaining to the lawsuits governed by maritime concerns, for which specialized knowledge and expertise is mandatory.

While there can be multiple aspects under the jurisdiction of maritime laws, there are some widely encountered maritime issues demanding discrete legislative measures. Some of these areas have been elaborated below:

• Right to maximum medical cure and maintenance

The shipman has the sole responsibility for providing a seaman injured during his association with maritime service, working under his authority, free medical access to healthcare facilities and medications to reach a state of “maximum medical cure”. The shipman is liable to ensure access to medical supply or devices to ensure his ability to function as a healthy individual even if it were not sufficient to make his condition better.

In legal terms, a shipman is obliged to pay for the basic necessities of a seaman while he is recovering from poor health or injury. However, once fit, he should be able to maintain his expenditures. Heavy charges can be imposed by a seaman against a shipman on these grounds resulting in adverse situations in which punitive damages may be inflicted and compensation for maintenance or cure and attorney fees can be recovered. 

• Reasonable care to injuries

Ship owners are responsible for providing maximum hospitality and care for the passengers and travelers, especially in cruise lines. Passengers who have been subjected to injury while being on board owing to the ignorance and negligence of the authority or a foreign party could file for lawsuits by providing evidence for the same. Because of the limitations in the passenger ticket, there is a minimum time period within which the charges have to be filed to be taken to court.

• Mortgage of purchase and supply ships

Many vendors to purchase ships for trading and supply ships for transport of goods seek bank loans against which a lien is issued in the name of a concerned shipman or seaman. In the case of default in payment, the ships of the concerned seamen will be arrested and not allowed for service until the clearance of pending charges.

• Salvage

In situations when goods or property is lost in the sea, the rescuer of the salved property has the right to claim a reward owing to the recovery of the rescued product exclusively and not applicable for rescuing life. Salved property has been classified as contract and pure salvage. Contract salvage as the name indicates property owners and the salvor engages in an agreement confirming undertaking of operational activities in exchange for money prior to the commencement of the salvage activities.

Pure or merit salvage, however, requires the salvor to claim his salvage in court in return for which assessing the merit and value of services, compensations are provided to the salvor. Pure salvages could be high order in the sense that the salvor puts him in risk and personal damage to salvage the property. In the case of low order pure salvages, the salvor is not liable to undertake any personal loss or damage. 

Maritime injuries can be claimed by undertaking various legislative measures as discussed below:

Direct settlement with the employer or provider of insurance

State or Federal Agency supervising through legal proceedings

Lawsuits filed in a Federal or State court

The tenure of the legal procedure in the settlement of claims and the nature of actions undertaken will be completely dependent on the claim itself. The time taken for complete investigation of the case to the root and the incidents that have been reported in the claimed charges will determine the time taken to settle the charges in court.

Ignorance of alleged claims by the insurance provider or the ship owner for unaccountable reasons may require a lawsuit to be enforced to speed up the administrative proceedings of the case and resolve the issue fast. Though the guarantee for holding the trial in the appropriate court can be ensured but federal maritime laws does not entitle the right to conduct legal proceedings under the legislation of a jury.

Often employers and insurance providers keep under observation injured employees to make sure they do not resort to unemployment or avail medical services not conforming to the medical claim. In certain extreme cases, there have been propositions of job offers from employees inconsistent to their medical needs to lead them to cancel their medical claims. Some employers and ship owners tend to discourage the employees from keeping themselves aware of the protection of their legal rights. This is sometimes forced on employees by making them sign statements wavering their claims and compensations.

The protection of legal rights has to be warranted by seeking help from experienced maritime counsels who acts as the spokesperson of the employee. Bridging the gap between the employer, insurance company and employee, the deserved compensations against levied charges and claims can be recovered.

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