The Rights of Cruise Ship Passengers

Information for Passengers

As a cruise ship passenger, you have rights the cruise companies want you to know. You also have rights the cruise companies do not want you to know.

These are the rights the cruise companies do not want you to know:

    the rights the cruise companies do not want you to know

  1. You have the right to receive money compensation for any accident, injury, assault, disappearance, drowning or near drowning that occurs aboard the cruise ship.  These include:
    A.   Slip and fall accidents during the cruise.
    B.   Rape or sexual assaults during the cruise.
    C.   Drowning or near drowning accidents during the cruise.
    D.   Disappearances during the cruise.
    E.  Any dangerous condition that causes you or your family harm during the cruise.
  2. You also have the right to receive money compensation for any accident, injury, assault, disappearance, drowning or near drowning during shore side excursions.

These are the rights the cruise companies want you to know:

    the rights of cruise ship passengers

  1. The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
  2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.
  3. The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available. 
  4. The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.
  5. The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures. 
  6. The right to an emergency electrical generator in case the main generator fails.
  7. The right to transportation to the ship’s scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger’s home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
  8. The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
  9. The right to have included on each cruise line’s website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations.
  10. The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line’s website.

Do you have any questions or concerns? Contact us for more information.

Maritime Claims: What Happens if You Suffer a Cruise Ship Injury

Information for Passengers

Maritime Claims: What Happens if You Suffer a Cruise Ship Injury?Since the end of the 70’s, cruises have become a very popular vacation for the American middle class. Regrettably, there are a lot of accidents aboard these ships and many passengers suffer very serious cruise ship injuries.
The most typical maritime accidents are:

  • Slip and Falls and Trip and Falls due to dangerous conditions aboard the ships such as defective floors, and slippery substances on the floors. These accidents can occur inside the cabins, in and around the pools, on the decks, hallways, access ramps, restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Cruise ship accidents during short excursions
  • Fires and Maritime Collisions
  • Poisoning and Sickness due to contaminated food and drink
  • Negligence in providing medical care when it is required.
  • Negligence in providing adequate accommodations for handicapped people.
  • Physical or sexual assaults perpetrated by the crew or other passengers.
  • Unexplained disappearances
  • Negligent navigation.

Maritime claims for cruise ship incidents and injuries

Maritime claims for cruise ship incidents and injuriesMany passengers are not aware that they can receive money compensation for injuries that result from these incidents and accidents on cruise ships. Additionally, they do not know the laws that apply and the location where the lawsuits must be filed. Matters are made more difficult by the fact that most maritime claims have to be filed where the main offices of the cruise company is located. The main offices for most of the main cruise lines that operate in the United States are located in Miami. Therefore, most passenger lawsuits against the cruise lines have to be filed in Miami. As a result of this, most passengers start their maritime lawsuits in Miami after returning to their home states or home countries.

Maritime claims and passengers’ contractual limitations

The passenger ticket is a contract between the passenger and the cruise line.
It contains far more than the itinerary. It imposes severe limitations on a passengers’ ability to file a maritime claim against the company and it must be read very carefully because it will contain all the requirements that must be complied with before a maritime lawsuit can be filed. For example, some companies require written notification of the passenger’s intention to file a lawsuit, and this usually has to be done within six (6) months after the accident.

Maritime claims and statute of limitations

The passenger ticket also contains that statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time within which the passenger can file his case against the company. If the passenger does not file the case against the company within the statute of limitations, he will lose all his rights. It is a very short statute of limitations. It is one (1) year from the date of the accident or injury. More passenger cases are lost for failure to comply with the requirements of the ticket and the statute of limitations than for any other reason.
If you suffered cruise ship injuries during your vacation and want to file a maritime lawsuit, please read your passenger ticket carefully and comply with all of its requirements. If for any reason you have lost your ticket, please request a copy of it immediately from the company and comply with all of its requirements. Better yet, contact us– (305) 642-5000 – and we will help you comply with all the requirements and bring your lawsuit to a successful conclusion.

Crewmembers are Entitled to Free Medical Care Under Maritime Law

Information for Crew Members

Free Medical Care Under Maritime LawUnder American Maritime law, all vessel owners and operators have the legal obligation to provide free medical care for any crew member that is injured or becomes sick while he is working or is in the service of the ship. By the time of the case of Harder vs. Gordon in 1823 this was already well established law.

What does this mean for the crew member working on a cruise ship?

It means that if a crew member suffers an accident on a cruise ship and becomes injured or sick, the company he works for cannot evade the responsibility to provide him free medical care by the simple expedient of sending him home. The company cannot legally abandon an injured or sick crew member. The obligation to provide free medical care to an injured or sick crew member is so strong that it does not matter if the crew member was negligent or had any fault in causing his maritime accident or sickness. The only legal requirement to receive free medical care is that the crew member be working at the time of his medical problem or that he be in the service of the ship. For example, if a crew member is injured or becomes sick while on shore leave, he is still entitled to free medical care. If a crew member is traveling from his home to the ship or from the ship to his home, he is entitled to free medical care. American courts have been so generous in interpreting the crew member’s right to receive free medical care that in the famous case of Koistinen v. American Export Lines, a crew member was allowed to recover the medical expenses he incurred when he was injured by jumping out of the window of a house of prostitution.

What types of injuries or sickness entitle the crew member to receive free medical care?

The injury or sickness does not need to be related to the crew member’s work. It does not need to be caused by a maritime injury, or other cruise ship incidents. For example, a crew member is entitled to free medical care for a gall bladder attack, heart attack, diabetes, kidney stones, mental conditions, or any other medical treatment. Even when a pre-existing medical condition recurs, the crew member is still entitled to free medical care.
The crew member’s right to receive free medical care from the company is expected to work automatically without uncertainty or administrative delay or haggling.
American courts have imposed a duty on the employer under maritime law to pay for the crew member’s medical care irrespective of cause or fault and to resolve any doubts in favor of paying the crew member’s medical expenses.

Where am I entitled to receive my medical treatment?

The crew member is entitled to receive his emergency and non-emergency medical care aboard the ship, and at the nearest port depending upon of the severity of his injury or sickness. If the cargo or cruise ship injury or sickness renders the crew member unable to work, then, after the initial medical care is given, a doctor will determine if he is able to travel. If the crew member is able to travel, he will probably be sent home to receive his medical care. If the crew member is not able to travel, he will receive free medical care wherever he is at.

Can the company send me to a third country to receive my medical care?

In the last few years, many of the cruise companies have negotiated with doctors and hospitals in poor countries to obtain cheap and low quality medical care for their crew members. Instead of giving the medical care at the closest port or in the crew member’s home country, they try to send the crew member to a third country for his medical care. This is not an accepted practice and the crew member can and should refuse to go to a third country for medical care.

When does the company obligation to provide medical care end?

The company’s obligation to provide free medical care ends when the crew member has reached maximum medical improvement.

What does maximum medical improvement mean?

Maximum medical improvement means that, in the doctor’s opinion, any additional
medical treatment will not improve the crew member’s medical condition.

Who determines when the crew member has reached maximum medical improvement?

This is determined by the crew member’s doctor. When the crew member’s doctor writes a medical report saying that the crew member will not benefit from any additional medical care, the company’s obligation to provide it ends.

Can I challenge the doctor’s opinion that I have reached maximum medical improvement?

If the crew member disagrees with the doctor’s opinion that he has reached maximum medical improvement, he can challenge the doctor’s opinion. If the doctor who determined that the crew member has reached maximum medical improvement was selected by the company instead of the crew member, the crew member can get a different opinion from an equally qualified doctor and challenge the company doctor’s opinion. If the crew member selected his own doctor, challenging his opinion is far more difficult but it still can be accomplished in some cases.

What can I accomplish by challenging the company doctor’s opinion as to maximum medical improvement?

A successful challenge to the company doctor’s opinion will result in the company reopening the crew member’s medical file and giving him any additional treatment
that he may need such as additional medication, additional medical testing, additional therapy, additional surgery, etc.

Free confidential consultation by E-mail, phone, or in person.

Attorney at Law – Specialized in Maritime Law
2nd Floor Stella Maris Building
3670 N.W. 6th Street, Miami, Florida 33125
United States of America
Telephone: (305) 642-5000; Fax: (305) 541-4690.

Maritime Law: Rights of Crew and Seamen to Receive Maintenance Money

Information for Crew Members

What is maintenance?

All crew members and seamen have the right to receive a daily amount of money when they are unable to work because of an accident, an injury, or a sickness that occurred while working or in the service of the ship. Service of the ship includes maritime injury and sickness that occur while traveling to and from the ship, while on shore leave, and while working on land or on an island off the ship.

What does this mean for a crew member or seaman working on any ship?

It means that if a crew member is injured or becomes sick while working or in the service of the ship, the company has to pay him a daily amount of money until he reaches maximum medical improvement.

What type of injuries or sickness entitles the crew member or seaman to maintenance?

The injury or sickness does not have to be related to the crew member’s occupation on the ship. It does not need to be a result of a cruise ship injury or other maritime accident. For example, a crew member is entitled to maintenance while receiving medical treatment for a heart problem, a kidney problem, diabetes, a mental problem or any other medical condition.

Is a crew member or seaman entitled to maintenance while hospitalized or living in a company-paid hotel?

No. The purpose of maintenance is to pay for the crew member’s living expenses. If a crew member is hospitalized or living in a company-paid hotel and he is receiving room and board, this fulfills the company’s obligation to provide maintenance.

What determines how much maintenance money the crew member or seaman receives?

In most cases, the daily amount of money you will receive is determined by the employment contract that the crew member signs or by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For how long is the crew member or seaman entitled to receive maintenance?

For as long as he is receiving curative medical care. The company’s obligation to pay maintenance only ends when your doctor says that you can return to work on the vessel (fit-for-duty) or he says that you have reached maximum medical improvement.

What does maximum medical improvement mean?

Maximum medical improvement means that, in the doctor’s opinion, any additional medical treatment will not improve the crew member’s medical condition. Of course, with most serious injuries, a crew member may have reached maximum medical improvement but is not fit-for-duty.

A Cruise Ship Accident … A Matter of Maritime Law

Maritime Articles

A great example of a situation that requires maritime law expertise is the accident that occurred at the beginning of this year with the cruise ship Thomson Majesty, a story that seems to repeat itself.

While the ship was docked in Santa Cruz de La Palma, five crew members died and three others were injured when a lifeboat fell into the sea while performing a safety drill. The lifeboat fell from a height of 20 meters with eight crew members inside and was overturned on the sea surface. Five crew members drowned. Three of the dead were from Indonesia, one was from the Philippines and one was from Ghana, according to a report by the Guardia Civil (Spanish Police) in charge of the accident investigation.

The three crew members that were injured had managed to jump out of the boat before it hit the water. The two that had serious injuries and were hospitalized were from Greece. The third wounded crew member was a Filipino who had only minor injuries, was treated by an ambulance crew, and discharged.

The ship is the Thomson Majesty, of the British company Thomson Cruises, which is based in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The 20-year-old ship is managed on Thomson’s behalf by a company called Louis Cruises, based in Cyprus. The cruise ship sails along the Canary and Madeira Islands which belong to Spain and Portugal respectively. It usually stops on Sundays in Santa Cruz de La Palma. The British company said “There was an incident involving the ship’s crew during a safety drill. Our thoughts are with the families of those involved“. The company also pointed out that it is "working closely with the ship owners and managers, Louis Cruises, to determine exactly what happened".

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Ministry said that it has been informed and is investigating the accident.
This unfortunate event happened during a simulation. What would have happened if the incident had taken place during a real emergency? Surely the deaths would have multiplied.

What are the legal issues that arise when analyzing this event?

It is common in cruise ship accidents to wonder about which laws are to be applied. In this case, three crew members from Indonesia, one from the Philippines, and one from Ghana, drowned and died. Two crew members from Greece were seriously injured. The owner of the ship is a British company, the administrator is a Cypriot company and the event occurred in Spain. This is characteristic of maritime law cases. Most lawyers without maritime expertise do not know how to obtain money compensation for the victims in this type of case. Therefore, it is essential to hire maritime law attorneys who are highly experienced and specialize in cases of this nature. For more information about maritime law issues, contact

What Should A Seafarer Consider Before Hiring A Maritime Lawyer?

Maritime Articles

In the age of globalization, cruise ship companies seem to have almost unlimited leverage when it comes to setting the terms for employment, wages, and working conditions. Fortunately, seafarers are not always at the mercy of their employers, as long as they are aware of their rights and what they can do to seek the redress they deserve.

Many crewmembers are not aware of their full rights and protections, and as a result, can be taken advantage of without them even realizing it before it is too late. To help remedy this situation, Attorney Elias B. Rudnikas provides free legal advice to all crew members.

Before hiring a lawyer, it is best to sort out what kind of legal problem you have first. This will determine which country the lawyer should be licensed in and what legal field of expertise he or she must have experience in. For example, a seafarer who is charged with a crime and needs a dedicated defense would need a criminal lawyer that is licensed to practice in the country where the charges were brought up.

Seafarers can write to Attorney Elias B. Rudnikas should they need clarity on the type of legal issue they have and what kind of lawyer they should hire.

Once the decision to hire a maritime lawyer is made, the claimant must act quickly since there is usually a time limit for filing a case. In addition, the lawyer should explain the following:

  • What options you have for solving your problem?
  • What are your chances of winning or getting a settlement?
  • How long your case will take?
  • If you have to pay should you lose the case, and How much?
  • What kind of payment arrangements he or she will accept?


The Hidden Pitfalls Of The Fine Print On Your Cruise Ship Ticket

Information for Passengers

Though cruise vacations are usually a safe and popular choice for travelers, what is less known is how severely restricted their rights are when something bad happens. In the process of buying a cruise ship ticket, the consumer automatically agrees to a boilerplate contract that limits what can be done to seek redress. And to make matters worse, there’s really no shopping around, all cruise companies use the same type of contract with the same restrictions. After all, no cruise ship company attracts their customers by advertising how much more lenient and generous their boilerplate contracts are compared to the competition. If anything, cruises can get away with this because the vast majority of travelers are unaware of what they are signing, and may be operating under a false sense of security. Even now, the public is unaware of how little protection exists for cruise ship passengers under maritime law.

 In the United States, most cruise ship companies are headquartered in Miami and will specify that a consumer can only sue in MiamiCan anything be done? Before that question is answered, it is a good idea to take stock of what the fine print specifies. According to maritime lawyer James M. Walker, the choice-of-forum clause is something every potential cruise passenger should be aware of because “you have to file suit in the location specified on the contract on your cruise ship ticket.” In the United States, most cruise ship companies are headquartered in Miami and will specify that a consumer can only sue in Miami, which can be a huge obstacle for passengers who do not live in Florida. Given that cruise ship vacationers often fly to the ports of departure to board their ship, this clause is especially effective in discouraging lawsuits because of the added cost, time, and travel just to file a case.

But even without the choice-of-forum clause, just buying the cruise ship tickets means that you have already agreed to a list of restrictive terms and conditions that prevent legal remuneration. Added Mr. Walker, “So many people call us and tell us they were treated badly on a cruise and 90 percent of the time we have to tell them that because of the terms and conditions of the contract, they don’t have a case.”

One way to deal with legally bulletproof cruise ship contracts is to buy comprehensive travelers insurance that includes coverage for lost luggage as well as emergency medical care. This can be a pricy alternative, but for those who can afford it and want to reduce risk in their cruise ship experience, it can be an option.

However, the legal invincibility of the cruise ship industry may be waning. In the wake of the highly publicized Concordia disaster and the negative publicity stirred up by the breakdown of the Carnival Triumph, cruise companies have finally responded to public outcry by approving a Passengers Bill of Rights. Fortunately, the newly approved guidelines are more than just public relations window dressing, because it is legally enforceable if the cruise company violates it. Among the guaranteed rights are: access to certified medical emergency attention, emergency backup power should the ship’s generator fail, complimentary overnight accommodations if the passenger is forced to stay overnight at an unscheduled port, the right to leave a docked ship if necessities cannot be accessed on board, and much more.

Though this “Passenger Bill of Rights” is not codified under modern maritime law, it is still enforceable because it is now standard for cruise ship contracts when a traveler buys a ticket. The path to true accountability is a long and winding road. But with the weight of public opinion affecting the bottom line, cruise companies will continue to do what is necessary to keep their customers, even if it means giving up their legal invulnerability.

Flag of convenience and abuse of international maritime law

Maritime Articles

The International Law of the Sea is, although vast, incomplete, having significant gaps. Its application is uneven and patchy, largely determined by the non-binding nature of certain agreements or the wide margins of discretion that much of this legislation grants to governments.

In April 29, 1958, the first United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) signed the Geneva Convention on the High Seas (CHS). This convention establishes in article five that “Each State shall fix the conditions for the grant of its nationality to ships, for the registration of ships in its territory, and for the right to fly its flag. Ships have the nationality of the State whose flag they are entitled to fly. There must exist a genuine link between the State and the ship; in particular, the State must effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag”.

Protected by this Convention, large shipping companies and cruise lines choose to register their vessels in certain countries, taking advantage of their lax laws of convenience, avoiding high international standards – this practice is known by the term "flag of convenience".

Understanding the importance of international maritime trade, it would be easy to assume that there should be a relationship between the most developed countries and the number of vessels that carry their flag. This leads us to assert that countries with more vessels would have to correspond with the major economic powers: USA, England, Germany… but we would be mistaken.

In 2007, 22.2% of the world tonnage was registered in Panama, followed by Liberia, with 9.8% of the world fleets. Bahamas was third with 5.6% of the world fleet. It should be noted that 51.9% of the merchant fleet of bulk carriers are registered in Panama, while 50.6% are oil tankers are registered in Liberia. 50% of the world fleet of cruise ships is registered in the Bahamas.

Maritime accidents due to the use of a flag of convenience from countries with low requirements

The data presented reveal that the vast majority of shipping companies choose to flag their ships by the tax breaks they could gain from the flag State or, worse, by the weakness or lack of rigor in compliance with the flag states’ international requirements. This will have increased the so-called "flags of convenience" phenomenon characterized by the registration of ships that do not meet minimum safety conditions for transporting dangerous goods and cause several preventable accidents.

This situation constitutes a major safety breach and requires a solution. States should be required to comply with the rules of international maritime law on the supervision and control of ships registered in their territory. Shipping companies and cruise liners should be restricted in their choice of their flag, requiring a clear link between the ship and the flag State.

Maritime law and maritime jurisdiction in Southeast Asia

Maritime Articles

Territorial concerns in the South China Sea have increased in recent times affecting an area considered crucial to world maritime trade. Coastal nations are claiming increasingly firmer jurisdictional rights.

The South China Sea washes the shores of Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. Over 50% of world’s merchant traffic sails through their waters. Oil flowing through the region is more than six times the volume transported through the Suez Canal in the same period of time.

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The economic importance of the geographical environment has traditionally been a source of conflict among the costal countries who argue about territorial sovereignty of two groups of islands: Paracelsus and Spratley. These are groups of islets of low productivity, most of them deserted and uncultivable, some just a few meters above sea level.

The islands and Exclusive Economic Zones

In the case of the South China Sea, a major cause for dispute are overlapping Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). The Paracel and Spratley island groups are essential for establishing international boundaries between states and the respective EEZ.

China and Vietnam have historically confronted the sovereignty of the 130 islands of the Paracel archipelago located about 200 nautical miles from the coasts of both countries. In 1974, China militarily occupied the islands.

The Spratly Islands are disputed and claimed, in part or in whole by China, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Although composed of more than 750 small islands, islets, reefs and cays, it is estimated that only 40 of the Spratlys could be considered as "islands" according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. This factor is decisive and that under international maritime law, only the "islands" may be subject to a claim of sovereignty. In January 1988, the Republic of China began to militarily occupy some islands.

Although incidents in these waters have persisted over the years, lately, increasingly firm position by litigants countries have intensified the tension in the region. In 2012 the Chinese navy conducted live-fire exercises in waters around the Paracel Islands and days later announced a competitive tender for nineteen sites located in the same sea region. The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that contest "is a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty". In May, warships from the Philippines and China were involved in an incident near the Scarborough atoll.

Why so aggressive?

The regions of the Spratly and Paracel islands may have large reserves of natural resources. Chinese officials have the most optimistic estimates of the wealth of resources in the area. According to figures cited by the US Energy Information Administration, Chinese estimates put the potential oil reserves to 213 billion barrels – 10 times the U.S. reserves. But scientists have estimated the amount to 28 billion barrels.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the real wealth of the area could be natural gas reserves. Estimates appraise the area to have reserves similar in quantity to Qatar’s.
The area is also one of the major shipping routes in the region, and home to a fishing sector that provides the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Maritime law problems between China and Japan

Then there is the issue between China and Japan. The foreign ministers of China and Japan met in September 2012 in New York (USA), on the sidelines of the General Assembly of the United Nations, to discuss the issue of the Senkaku Islands (In Japanese) or Diaoyu (Chinese), but made no progress in resolving the conflict.

The dispute over the islands intensified when the Japanese government bought a portion of the archipelago from a private owner, a situation that upset the Chinese authorities and Chinese people, who responded by sending two fleets of ships to monitor the area.

The archipelago’s importance derives from its potential waterways for fishing. According to Japanese sources, China began claiming the islands in the 1970s, when studies suggested that oil and gas deposits might be found near the islands.

A Japanese diplomat asked China to show restraint granted in the conflict that is causing millions in economic impact for the companies in the country, while the Chinese side reaffirmed that Tokyo’s decision to nationalize three of the eight islands "is a flagrant violation of the territorial integrity of China.”

The United States argues that an EEZ is a resource area and not a security zone and therefore, provided that legitimate economic interests of a country are respected, nations have the right to conduct military activities in the South China Sea.

China seems to regard the ocean-from its territorial waters, beyond its exclusive economic zone, reaching into the continental-plate, the same way that considers land.  It implements its "anti-access / denial of stay in an area" doctrine intended to challenge the U.S. naval superiority in the region. In this sense China has been repeating that the South China Sea is not a matter of concern for Washington, and U.S. military activities may jeopardize China’s interests. However, the U.S. has said that what is really at stake is freedom of navigation, as it believes that China policy is a challenge to generally accepted international maritime law standards.

All issues raised makes it essential to safeguard maritime safety, that the nations of the region, aware of the different interpretations of maritime laws among them, work together to achieve a mutual understanding of the legal interpretations of the rules described in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which should be the central framework for regional legislation in maritime issues and the solution to the problem. But when there are so many political and economic interests international maritime law runs adrift.

Sea Law, the Jones Act and the need to retain a Maritime Lawyer

Maritime Articles

The increasing development of international maritime trade, combined with a steady growth in tourism are driving an increased demand for maritime workers to staff both merchant ships and cruise vessels.

More than three-quarters of freight shipped worldwide is said to travel by sea. The global merchant fleet includes some 80,000 vessels of at least 100 gross tons. More than 1.2 million seafarers are currently manning these vessels worldwide.

It is common to hire mariners from different countries. Many seafarers work in ships not registered in their country of origin. Such mixed crews often do not speak the same languages.

Both on land and at sea problems often arise from work and life on these ships. Legal disputes that originate on board have unique characteristics that can differ significantly from problems that originate on land. Things get even more difficult when trying to find what specific maritime laws will protect workers or passengers in each situation.

Why is it so difficult to know which Maritime Law applies?

Many factors come into place when deciding what maritime laws are appropriate in each case.  Among other things, one factor to consider is the location where an incident happened.  Did it occur in territorial waters or the high seas?  The flag of the vessel in which the incident happened is also important. Even the location on board the ship is often established within given applicable contracts, and whether an incident occurred in a public passageway or in areas given over for the operation of the ship can be relevant. Further complications arise from the fact that passengers and crew are often from different countries, with differing languages, cultures and laws.

These difficulties are often used against passengers and crew who feel as though their rights are quickly disappearing. Although workers and passengers may feel helpless, it’s important that they understand that their rights can be asserted.

Let’s take a look at Maritime Law and  the Jones Act.

After exposing some of the problems of maritime law, it is important to be aware that it is possible to claim compensation for damages.

To cite one example, the Merchant Marine Act, known as the Jones Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1920 and protects both U.S. and foreign born sailors.  Mariners can claim injury compensation provided that their employer has not provided a safe workplace. An accident claim may have not even originated on the boat. The Jones Act protects employees from marine employer negligence, however minimal.

Not only sailors are protected by Maritime Law. Disputes arising out of the business relationship between passengers and cruise companies can also be argued within the framework of maritime laws. Several reports of sexual abuse on cruise ships and disappearance cases involving persons at sea have been covered, where often people were not aware of the existing Maritime Laws created to protect victims of just such cases.

In every case, it’s important to know that the unique characteristics of maritime law can be complex. The assistance of an experienced maritime lawyer cannot be over-emphasized. Only those receiving true professional and learned counsel are likely to successfully see their rights asserted and just compensation served.