FAQ on Maritime Law

Personal Injury, Motor Vehicle, Cruise Ship, Recreational Boating, and Jet Ski Accident Attorneys Serving Florida.

We are committed to protecting victims’ rights at Hickey Law Firm, P.A. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a maritime accident, including cruise ship accidents, cruise ship assaults and yachting accidents, we can help.

Miami injury attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey has extensive experience with maritime and admiralty law and can provide you with the representation you need to obtain a successful case resolution. If you are seeking a maritime attorney in the Greater Miami area, including Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach County, look no further than our law firm.

We represent people from all over the world against cruise lines and others. Call our Miami law office at 305-371-8000 today to schedule a free consultation.

What Is Admiralty and Maritime Law?

Admiralty and maritime law is a specific body of law that governs injuries on ships or boats in navigable waterways or bodies of water. Under admiralty law, ship owners and operators have a duty of reasonable care to all passengers and seamen. In the event of an injury accident, a passenger may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the ship owner.

Admiralty law is unique and complex; if you are seeking legal counsel regarding an admiralty case, you need an experienced maritime attorney. Serving Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach County, and beyond, Miami injury attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey has the experience, resources and knowledge you are looking for.

I Was Injured on a Cruise . . . Am I Eligible for Compensation?

Ship owners and operators owe passengers a duty of care. It is the responsibility of the cruise line to ensure that no unreasonable risks are present on a vessel that can cause injury to a passenger. If you or someone you love has been injured on a cruise because of an unreasonable risk or the negligent actions of a cruise employee, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim against the cruise line.

Cruise lines, including Carnival Corporation (Carnival Cruise Lines), Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines are large corporations with extensive resources and vigorously defend their interests in court. It is best to seek legal counsel from an experienced maritime attorney if you are planning on filing suit against a cruise operator for cruise ship accidents or a cruise ship assaults.

The cruise lines owe a “duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers.” See, Hall vs. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Limited, 888 So. 2d 654 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004), 2004 A.M.C. 1913;  citing Kermarrec v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 358 U.S. 625, 79 S. Ct. 406, 3 L. Ed. 2d 550 (1959); The Moses Taylor,  4 Wall. 411, 71 U.S. 411, 18 L. Ed. 397 (1866); Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd., 475 So. 2d 248 (Fla. 3d DCA 1985). The cruise lines also owe a “duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances”. See, Harnesk vs. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc, 1992 AMC 1472, 1991 WL 329584 (S. D. Fla. 1991). The cruise line’s “duty is to warn of dangers known to the carrier in places where the passenger is invited to, or may reasonably be expected to visit.” See, Carlisle vs. Ulysses Line Limited, S.A., 475 So. 2d 248 (Fla. 3d DCA 1985).  Vierling v. Celebrity Cruises, 339 F.3d 1309, 1319-20 (11th Cir. 2003)(“Courts sitting in admiralty have long recognized an obligation on the part of a carrier to furnish its passengers with a reasonably safe means of boarding and leaving the vessel, that this obligation is nondelegable, and that even the ‘slightest negligence’  renders a carrier liable).  The cruise line has a duty to provide safe ingress and egress to and from the ship.  Tittle v. Aldacosta, 544 F.2d 752 (5th Cir. 1977); Bellocchio v. Italia Flotte 84 F.2d 975 (2d Cir. 1936); Samuelov v. Carnival, 870 So.2d 853 (Fla. 3DCA 2004); and Chan v. Society Expeditions, 123 F.3d 1287 (9th Cir. 1997).

What Compensation Can I Receive for My Injuries?

Every case is different, and the value of your claim cannot be determined without first thoroughly examining the circumstances of your injury. However, the plaintiff can typically obtain compensation for medical costs (including rehabilitation costs and future medical costs related to the injury), loss of wages (including future wages), inhibited earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

If a loved one has been killed in a cruise ship accident, maritime attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey can help your family file a wrongful death claim against the liable parties. In such instances, we can help your family obtain compensation for medical costs, funerary costs, and emotional pain and suffering.

What Is the Jones Act? Can I File a Claim?

The Jones Act is a body of law that applies to seamen injured on the job. The Jones Act, like FELA for rail employees, is typically the sole source of compensation in the event a seaman is injured in the course of his or her employment. Unlike workers’ compensation, which is designed to compensate injured workers a pre-determined amount without the need for legal action, maritime accidents must be heard before a court, and the injured worker must prove negligence or liability on the part of the employer.

Seamen are also entitled to compensation for unseaworthiness of the ship, delay or denial of medical care (“cure”), delay or denial of payment of daily living expenses (“maintenance”) through the date on which a doctor declares them at maximum medical improvement, retaliatory discharge for getting fired just because they have a claim, assert a claim or hire a lawyer, and wage penalties for the failure of the ship to pay wages.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a maritime accident while on the job, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim under the Jones Act. To learn more, contact our Miami law office today and speak with a Miami and Fort Lauderdale injury attorney experienced in maritime law enforcement. Serving Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach County and beyond, the legal team at Hickey Law Firm, P.A. has extensive experience with maritime law and will work diligently to help ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Do I Need a Maritime Attorney?

Cruise lines are billion-dollar companies that will bring their extensive resources to bear in the defense of their interests. Cruise ship accidents and cruise ship assaults are surprisingly common. If you are looking to file a civil claim against a cruise line or you are interested in filing a claim under the Jones Act, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation from an experienced and diligent maritime attorney.

Admiralty law is complex and can prove daunting to anyone who lacks an intimate familiarity of its clauses. To provide yourself with the best opportunity of obtaining the compensation you are entitled to, you need an experienced maritime attorney.

Statutes of Limitations: What Is This and When Do I Have to Act?

I got a call the other day from an attorney in Pennsylvania. He said that his client was raped (“sexually assaulted”) on a cruise ship and that she – the client – had reported it to the FBI. So far, the client did what she should have done.

Then he said that the sexual assault took place about two and a half years ago. Oops. I told the lawyer that the one-year statute of limitations in her ticket (the cruise line “passenger contract ticket”) had passed, and there was nothing I could do. It was too late to bring a claim.

The cruise lines have included in the fine print on all of the passenger tickets the terms under which you have to bring a claim against them. They say when (usually within one year of the accident or incident) and where (Miami, Florida, if it is Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines or Celebrity Cruise Lines) you must file a claim. By the way, in order to bring a claim in Florida, it is best to contact a Florida attorney. Each state licenses attorneys to practice only in that state.

Then I asked why the victim waited so long. The attorney said that the passenger was told by the FBI agent investigating the cruise ship rape that the statute of limitations was three years. Oh well. So much for advice from someone who is not a maritime lawyer. (It is true generally that the statute of limitations for maritime claims is three years. However, the cruise lines can limit that to one year, and of course, they do in the ticket terms.)

This anecdote is not meant to be legal advice or to explain everything about statutes of limitations, nor is it something you can rely on to determine what the statute of limitations is in your particular case. To determine the applicable statute of limitations in any case, call a lawyer who knows about the field in which you have a claim.

Nevertheless, here are some basic concepts surrounding statutes of limitations:

  • First, the “statute of limitations” for a claim is a general term that means the time within which you have to file a lawsuit. The time limit is not always expressed in a statute. Sometimes it is in a contract like a passenger ticket. Moreover, there are provisions in some statutes, commonly in medical malpractice statutes, that it starts (“begins to run”) from when you knew or should have known about the medical malpractice. This does not apply to claims for medical malpractice against the cruise lines.
  • Second, there are different periods of time or statutes of limitations for different types of claims, and the statute can be different in each state. Generally, for maritime seaman’s claims, the statute is three years; for passengers it is one year. Generally, in Florida, for general negligence, it is four years; for wrongful death, it is two years; and for medical malpractice, it is two years.
  • Third, the only way to stop the clock, beat the deadline, or as the law says, “toll the statute,” is to file a lawsuit. The clock is not stopped just by reporting the accident. You have to file suit. That means you must contact an attorney in time for him or her to evaluate and investigate the claim and to prepare and file a complaint in court. If you wait until the day the statute runs out or the day before, it may be too late to do anything.

The best way to determine the statute of limitations is to call an attorney and to tell him or her about your case. The attorney will advise you about the time limit within which you must file a claim. If you believe you may have a maritime case, call an attorney’s office today. You can call the experienced Miami and Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys at Hickey Law Firm, P.A. toll free at 305-371-8000. We are here to take your call, get your information and listen.

How Long Does a Maritime Lawsuit Take?

Each case is unique. It is difficult to gauge how long your case may take without first knowing the particulars. However, in general, maritime law cases take nine or more months to settle.

What Are the Basic Elements of Maritime Law?

Maritime law covers licensing and registration procedures, ship and shipping container inspections, shipping contracts, maritime insurance, and the carrying of goods and passengers. Under admiralty and maritime law, a duty of care is owed to passengers and seamen by the owners and operators of water vessels. Failure to maintain these standards can result in legal ramifications when an injury occurs.

Does Maritime Law Apply on Land?

Maritime law covers issues that happen at sea along with land-based activities that are maritime in character. For example, if you are injured while on a shore excursion associated with a cruise line, maritime law will likely apply. As with all branches of the law, there are often complexities involved in maritime law cases. The best way to determine how to proceed with your claim is through a one-on-one consultation with an experienced maritime law attorney. Jack Hickey is Board Certified in Admiralty & Maritime Law by The Florida Bar. If you have questions about your options or your rights following an injury on a cruise ship, he welcomes the opportunity to meet with you, assess your case, and help you determine the best path forward.

What is the Difference Between Law of the Sea and Maritime Law?

The law of the sea applies to public entities such as government operations. Maritime law applies to private entities such as the owners, operators, and employees of cruise ships. It also applies to the clients of ships, including passengers and shipping interests.

What Kind of Evidence Is Needed for the Case?

When you are injured on a cruise ship or another vessel, liability must be established in order to seek proper compensation. This will require the gathering of evidence such as pictures or video of the event, witness statements, emergency and medical reports, and your own recounting of events. An investigation is often required to gather appropriate evidence. This may involve the hiring of experts when the situation demands. Gathering evidence is something best left in the hands of an experienced maritime law attorney. We will provide you with a list of useful documents you can bring to your initial consultation to assist us in this endeavor.

Contact a Maritime Attorney Serving the Miami and Fort Lauderdale Area

Contact Miami injury attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced maritime lawyer. Hickey proudly serves Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach County and all of Southern Florida. The staff at Hickey Law Firm, P.A., can protect your legal rights and will work with your best interests in mind.

OUR MISSION is to provide to you, the honest, seriously injured person, the advice you need, the representation you want, and the compensation you deserve. By doing this, we correct unsafe places, procedures, conditions and products on cruise ships, stores, commercial facilities, at work and at home.

We represent honest, seriously injured people in maritime accidents and a very wide variety of other cases. We file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of families who have lost loved ones, and we fight for Back to the Top