The Legal Challenges of Maritime Accidents

What are the legal challenges of maritime accidents, and why do maritime liability cases seem so complicated? These two questions can be answered by taking a look at the overall structure of maritime law and realizing that it involves an entirely different set of assumptions when compared to mainstream, non-maritime liability.

There are four distinct points that make the legal challenges of maritime accidents a formidable subject for those new to the topic.


Maritime accident cases need to be meticulously documented, to include any correspondence between worker and management during the period following an accident. Also, the plaintiff should keep a detailed record of invoices, medical statements, a clear description of the injury as well as the details of the accident.

Statutes of Limitation

Statutes in maritime injury cases typically run for three years, but plaintiffs should understand that certain types of cases could have statutes that are much shorter. Only by consulting a professional attorney will a plaintiff learn the specific statute that applies to his or her case.


After a plaintiff files a maritime accident case, the journey through the court system can be long and complicated. One reason for this particular challenge is the employer’s ability to file appeals and/or deny the allegations completely. If that happens, plaintiffs often find themselves entrenched in a complex and contentious dispute that could take several years.

The Threshold for Proving Negligence

In most maritime cases, the plaintiff must show that the employer was negligent, and this can be a tough hurdle to clear. Employers routinely attempt to place fault with the worker in order to avoid paying damages in accident cases. The threshold for proving negligence in maritime cases can be quite high.

Problems with Accident Reports/Statements

When plaintiffs are injured on the job, they need to file an accident report as soon as possible. As well, the injured party should seek professional medical attention immediately. The report should contain only the basic essential facts about the accident, such as who was harmed and where the injurious took place, as well as the time.

Plaintiffs should be very careful to avoid extensive questioning during an injury report session. Stick to the basic facts and say no more. The reason for this advice is twofold: employers will often attempt to subtly get the plaintiff to admit fault or make incriminating statements. Second, employers often attempt to coerce an injured party into making contradictory statements in an accident report. Plaintiffs who report accidents should avoid answering any significant questions about the accident without an attorney present.

The discussion above represents only a short sampling of the many obstacles that face plaintiffs. The legal challenges of maritime accidents should be carefully considered by attorneys and clients as they prepare their cases for courtroom presentation. Keep in mind, however, that a significant number of maritime accident cases are settled prior to any court hearing.

Even so, whenever a plaintiff is injured or harmed in any way while performing work in his or her capacity as a maritime worker, it is worth discussing the situation with a competent, experienced maritime injury attorney.

Injury and maritime attorneys Braud & Gallagher are well-versed in all aspects of maritime accident law, have extensive experience trying and settling maritime cases, and welcome any plaintiffs who need to learn more about this complex area of accident law.


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