Maritime Law: How Do You Define Negligence and Comparative Fault?

Maritime law is substantially different from general legalities.

As someone with the privilege of living under this body of laws, you’re held to a higher expectation than that of the average person.

Also called admiralty laws, these laws govern everything that occurs in the maritime world. This includes questions, disputes, and negligence.

Under this law, if you caused damages because of your negligence, you’re responsible for the costs of those damages.

Proving Maritime Negligence

If you’ve been injured because of negligence under maritime laws, you will need help from some brilliant maritime accident attorneys. Your legal experts will have to convince the judge or jury that your injuries were due to someone else’s failure in their duty of care.

The other party should have taken an action to prevent the injuries. In some situations, they neglected to apply proper safety protocols.

For instance, negligence by a shipowner would occur if the owner failed to exercise reasonable care on their vessel. An example is the failure to display safety signs above raised doorways. 

If you were on board the ship and tripped over this area, any damages would be due to the shipowner’s negligence.

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There’s no excuse for negligence when you’re operating under maritime laws. You’re expected to be held to higher standards, and if you are lazy or try to cut corners, that negligence can be dangerous or fatal.

Negligence Versus Comparative Fault

Most maritime law negligence cases fall under the Jones Act. This law states that if you’re injured as a seaman, you can claim negligence against your employer. In those situations, the shipowner is absolved of responsibility.

The Jones Act dictates that a maritime worker is acting on behalf of their employer, as in a normal “worker’s comp” situation. But under maritime law, the employer is responsible for negligence.

At that time, any injuries to the employees can be brought to court. The injured party can then seek compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

However, employers often try to defend themselves with a comparative fault claim. This is the argument that the injured person was the neglectful party. Through their own carelessness, they were harmed.

Again, this does happen. Take the doorway trip and fall, for example. If you were under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred, it was partly your fault, and partly the employer’s negligence. 

In comparative fault cases, you could still receive compensation for your injuries. The court ruling would reduce the award by a specified percentage. If you were found to be 50% liable for the accident, your settlement would be reduced by 50%.

Stick With Maritime Lawyers for Maritime Cases

No one wants to end up with permanent injuries that should have been avoided. But it happens, and that’s why there are lawyers skilled in the laws that define your situation.

When it comes to injuries that fall under the admiral’s law, you can’t hire a general attorney for your case. You’ll need someone trained in maritime legalities to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.

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Ava Moore
BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.

I'm the Chief Editor here at Independent Femme and would love to hear from you.

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