Maritime Lawyer – A Comprehensive Guide Like None Other


Is the term
maritime lawyer appearing new to you? Let’s understand it with a few examples.
You are enjoying a cruise holiday and got injured? You are working on a ship
and got injured due to negligence from management? You are a ship owner and
your ship has collided due to the negligence of another ship? In such cases,
you are entitled to get justice or better say compensation. A maritime lawyer
can help you navigate through the complex legal process.

how to select a maritime lawyer

Table of Contents

What is a
Maritime Lawyer – Meaning and Definition

A maritime lawyer
also called a maritime attorney or shipping lawyer can be defined as a lawyer
who specialized in handling legal cases related to maritime injuries and
boating accident that happens during recreational activities as well commercial
maritime practices. A maritime lawyer provides legal help to those affected by

Salary of a
Maritime Lawyer

Maritime lawyers
are one of the highest-paid lawyers in America. As per some reputed sources,
the average salary of a maritime lawyer also called a shipping lawyer in the
United States is $118,500 per year.

What does a
maritime lawyer do? Roles and responsibilities

A maritime lawyer
is an attorney that provides legal support to clients – individuals and businesses
– in cases related to boat and ship accidents. Here we give a detailed account
of their roles and responsibilities.


A maritime lawyer
represents clients in cases related to sea, ocean and other open water bodies.
They represent the clients who have got affected due to accidents in the sea
and open water.


If there is an
injury on the sea while you are onboard cruises, ships, boats or cargos, then
these cases are handled under maritime law. Some of the injuries that are
covered under maritime law are as follows.

  • Slips and falls
  • Heavy lifting
  • Collision and
  • Sickness

Working condition

Besides safety
and injuries, a maritime lawyer also provides legal assistance in cases where
poor working condition on ships and cargo is involved.

Shipping and

A maritime lawyer
provides you with legal assistance when you find yourself in a legal battle
that involves shipping and commerce.


boating like cruises and yachts is high in demand. But these recreational
activities have their own dangers. Whenever a boat capsizes or you get injured,
you have every right to claim compensation in court.

Besides providing
legal assistance to victims, a maritime lawyer also provides assistance to boat
and cruise owners.


Maritime lawyers
also deal with maritime environment laws. If a ship is found dumping garbage,
it may be entitled to legal action. A maritime lawyer handles the cases related
to maritime environmental law.


negotiation is one of the major duties of maritime lawyers. In the case of an
accident or injury, a maritime lawyer is a key person who does settlement

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When should you
hire a maritime lawyer?

Do you have
questions like when should I see a maritime lawyer? Aren’t you sure, if your
case merits to be dealt with by a maritime law? Here we describe the situations
when you should visit a maritime lawyer.

Boat crashing
into another boat

If your boat
crashes another boat or another boat crashes you, both these situations require
a legal procedure. You need to hire a maritime lawyer to resolve it.

Boat hitting dock

Your boat hits
someone’s dock or someone’s boat hit your dock. In both these situations, you
need to hire a maritime lawyer. These lawyers have good command over maritime

Ship polluting

If you are the
owner or manager of a ship that dumps garbage in the ocean then you can be
brought to court for violating the maritime laws related to environmental
pollution. Here a maritime lawyer can better represent you in court.


If someone
injures you or you injure someone in the open water then this situation is
governed by maritime law. Here an experienced maritime lawyer can help you.

Benefits of
hiring a maritime lawyer

You might have
questions like why should I hire a maritime lawyer. Is hiring a maritime
attorney worth it? What benefits I will get by hiring him? As these lawyers
have expertise in admiralty and maritime law, they help you manage these legal
issues that are known for their complexity.

They establish
your status as a seaman

As we have said
earlier, there are several maritime laws that may apply to your case. A
maritime lawyer will help you establish your status as a seaman. He will decide
on factors that include how many hours you work on the sea and how far you are
from the shore.

They will
determine your injury

Most of the claim
cases under maritime law depend upon the severity of the injury you have
received. Your injury could be minor, major, or even life-threatening. A good
maritime lawyer will give a fair estimate of your injury.

They determine
the negligence

In a significant
number of cases, accidents happen due to negligence or mismanagement by a
shipowner. But it is the workman that suffers.

When fighting
your case under maritime law your lawyer ascertains the negligence and
mismanagement of a shipowner.

They keep track
of your record

When you or your
loved ones get injured or you lose someone to a ship or boat injury, you won’t
be in a position to keep track of all the related documents. Here a maritime
lawyer will support you with organizing the documents.

Just give him the
details of the injury and he will arrange every document required for filing

They give you
advice on legal issues

Admiralty and
maritime law are highly complex and you can’t get a hold of them by just
reading them. Here a good maritime lawyer will interpret it for you. As they
have represented various clients in court, they know the practical aspects of
it. They will clearly tell you what you can ask and what can you get. They also
know the argument a defense lawyer can make so that your case can be prepared
accordingly. The advice from an attorney will help you navigate through the

They help you get

Whether you are
suffering from maritime injury, bad work conditions, or cargo damage. You might
be looking forward to seeking justice in such situations.

Here having a
knowledgeable and experienced maritime lawyer on your side ensures that you are
getting the compensation you deserve. As they are experienced, they know the
complexity of law that help them get the desired results in your case. In the
case of an out-of-court settlement, they negotiate a better settlement amount
for you.

They get help for
your family

Unfortunately, if
one of your family members dies due to a maritime injury, no doubt your family
will suffer a lot. Here a maritime lawyer with a good understanding of the law
can file a claim that may help your family. A good lawyer will establish in the
court how your family has been suffering due to the death. Such an effort will
help get the right compensation.

How to choose a
maritime lawyer

Choosing a
maritime lawyer has always been a difficult task for many, given the complexity
of maritime law. Here we guide you about what should you look into while
choosing a maritime lawyer.

Extensive knowledge of the Jones Act

Jones Act is
section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 that provides for the regulation
of merchant marine activities in America. This law is complex in nature. Most
lawyers in America know a little about it but a little knowledge is not
sufficient when you are fighting a legal battle in court. Look for an attorney
who has expertise in Jones Act.


Experience is one
of the major factors we consider while choosing a professional and the same
applies to a maritime lawyer. Ask him if he has relevant experience. Maritime
law encompasses various things like injury, product liability, and environmental
pollution among others. Sometimes you are fighting a legal battle for breach of
contract. In such a case your maritime attorney should be experienced in
handling such kinds of cases.

Courtroom experience

When it comes to
maritime law, an attorney has to fight your case in the courtroom as well as
outside the court so that a settlement can be reached. Most of the time
settlement is reached before the trial starts. If you are not getting the right
settlement amount your attorney should be willing to take it to trial. Always
go for an attorney who has enough courtroom experience so that you can get a
good settlement.


Maritime injury
cases are very complex in nature. There are times when a maritime lawyer has to
hire experts to establish whose fault was it. They have to pay these experts
even before getting payments from it. A maritime lawyer who is not that
resourceful can’t handle situations like this. You should consider while
looking for a maritime attorney.


Preparing for a
maritime case requires resources, not only in terms of money but resources as
well. Preparing documents, accessing medical records and arranging testimony
requires manpower. Winning a case requires teamwork. You should have enough
skilled people to collect evidence of the damage, document to establish the
negligence of the opposite party, collect dispositions and organize them in an
order that can successfully be presented in the court. Here a maritime lawyer
without sufficient human resources won’t be able to do justice to your case.
You should look for an attorney who is rich in human resources.

Qualification is

Right educational
qualification is important to become a successful maritime lawyer. The basic
educational qualification for a maritime lawyer is graduation from a recognized
law with a Juris Doctorate. He must have passed the examination of the state
bar association and must be carrying a valid license to practice in the state
concerned. Lawyers who want to make a great career in maritime law can take
admission in a maritime law institute or seek an internship with an experienced
maritime lawyer.

Hard work

A maritime
attorney should be hardworking. The maritime cases involve falls, slips and
poor work conditions among others. They have to prepare for a number of cases
at a number of courts at different venues. So, your maritime lawyer is required
to be very hardworking.

Good reviews

You should take
your time while hiring a maritime lawyer. With a hurried approach, you may end
up hiring a lawyer who is not the right fit for your case. You should check
their website for client testimonials and also visit independent websites to
know what people have to say about your prospective maritime attorney. There
are some reputed rating agencies to see the rating of maritime lawyers.


The fee is an
important consideration while selecting a maritime lawyer. The fee varies according
to popularity, experience and success rate. Location is also an important
factor that affects the fee. For example, the fee of maritime lawyers in
Houston may differ from those of New Orleans. There are several lawyers who
offer free consultations at the initial stage.

Types of cases he
has handled

While looking for
a maritime lawyer for your case, you should look into the types of cases he has
handled in the past successfully. Maritime law is a very vast subject with a
varied specialization that includes shipping accidents, injuries and oil spills
among others. It is important to know whether your maritime lawyer has handled
your type of case.

Good case results

A good maritime
lawyer is one that wins cases for their clients. When choosing a maritime lawyer,
you should ask what the number of cases they have won for their clients. You
can also ask for details of the clients so that you can verify their claims.

Don’t give
complete authority

Some maritime
lawyers expect that clients should give them complete authority so that they
can negotiate a settlement that they think is right. As you give them the
authority, they may not inform about the different stages of negotiation. Don’t
give them free hand. Instead, retain the power to call the shots.

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Questions to ask
your prospective maritime lawyer

After collecting
all this information, the next thing you should do is to meet your prospective
maritime lawyer in person. An in-person meeting helps you know your lawyer
better. Don’t know what to ask your maritime lawyer? Let’s give you some hints.

Ask him to give
reasons to hire him

After initial
ice-breaking come to the standard question – why should I hire you? Let him
convince you. An experienced lawyer will talk about his capability. He will
tell you how can he help you.

Ask about

matters a lot when choosing a lawyer. So, you ask your prospective lawyer about
his experience. Ask him how much experience he has in handling maritime cases.
Know about his key strengths. Do they have experience in handling Jones Act?

Does he handle
cases of people living in different states

There are times
when you may have to fight a maritime case in a state different from yours. Ask
your lawyer if he can help you with a maritime case that is being fought in
different states.

Ask about his
relationship with different experts

Preparing a case
requires a legal team to seek the services of other experts. These experts help
provide a witness that makes your case strong. Good association with these
experts can tilt the scale on your side.

Ask about the fee

It is one of the
most important considerations when hiring a maritime lawyer. Your lawyers
should be affordable and offer value for money. Most lawyers give a free
consultation and seek a certain percentage of the settlement or claim amount.

Ask about their

Maritime law is a
very vast and complex subject and we need to hire a lawyer. Here hiring a jack
of all trades won’t serve a purpose. Is he an expert in Jones Act or the
working condition of seamen or cargo damage? Always go for a lawyer with
expertise in your kind of case.

Types of cases a
maritime lawyer handles

A maritime lawyer
is different from a general law as he handles cases related to maritime law.
But maritime law in itself is a very vast subject replete with different laws.
Here we discuss the major cases a maritime lawyer handles.

Personal injury

There is no
denying the fact that sailing, working and indulging in recreational water
activities involve risk. Sometimes, these injuries may result in death.
Cruises, cargo and recreational boat owners take all the necessary steps to
avert injuries. But still, these activities are not foolproof as it records
several maritime injuries every year. Personal injury claims are one of the
major cases a maritime lawyer fights. Based on whether the injury is done to
crewmembers, passengers or those working on shores a maritime lawyer prepares
the case. 

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Cargo damage

A large number of
international and sometimes domestic trade takes place through the ship. As
large stuff is transported through the sea, the chances of cargo damage are
also high. Cargo owners file claims against vessel operators. Here a maritime
lawyer helps settle the claim.

Charter or
contract cases

There are times
when a party takes to ship on the lease, mortgage or contract. Here a maritime
lawyer prepares the document for lease and contract. He prepares different
clauses for it. If any dispute arises, he prepares the case for the client.

Marine pollution

A maritime lawyer
also handles cases related to maritime environmental pollution. There are
several laws and rules related to the control of maritime environment
pollution. A maritime lawyer looks after the cases related to it.

Maritime Law –
Frequently Asked Questions

Maritime and
admiralty law is a vast subject and readers might have various questions
regarding it. Here we try to answer some of the most asked questions.

What types of
accident cases are dealt with under maritime law?

If you have
received an injury at sea, your case falls under maritime law. People who have
got injured on cruise ship, ferry, boat, oil tanker or yacht may file a case
under maritime and admiralty law. In addition, those who have received an
injury while indulging in water activities like scuba diving, parasailing, and
snorkeling can seek respite under maritime law.

What steps should
I take after an accident at sea?

Meeting an
accident is unfortunate. But it is no time to get nervous. Here we suggest what
should you do after an accident.

  • Make sure you are
    safe. It is the topmost priority. Immediately seek medical attention.
  • Start documenting
    the incident. Take photographs and videos.
  • Those traveling
    on the cruise should visit the medical facility. Keep the prescription safe.
  • Make a call to a
    maritime lawyer who will tell you what to do or what not to do.

What is the fee
of a maritime lawyer?

Most maritime
lawyers charge no initial consultation fee. They charge you a certain
percentage of the amount paid as a settlement or claim.

What is the right
time to contact a maritime lawyer after a cruise ship injury?

The earlier you
contact the lawyer, the better it is. Don’t wait for coming to the shores and
make a call while you are onboard. A maritime lawyer will guide you on dos and

How much
compensation I may receive?

It is a
subjective question and it depends on a number of factors including the extent
of injury, degree of negligence and expected time of recovery.

What is the role
of the coast guard in maritime law?

The coast guard
is the leading agency when it comes to the enforcement of maritime law. The
agency enjoys the right to enforce national and international maritime law in
the sea. Apart from the sea, the coast guard also has the right to enforce the
law on the waters within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Where should I
file a claim?

The location for
filing the case depends upon a number of factors that include the site of the
accident, the ship’s registry port and the headquarters location. Your maritime
lawyer can better guide you on this.

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