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What is an admiralty court and what types of cases does one hear?

Maritime law is a niche area, and it is important for seafarers to understand their legal rights and options. This may include pursuing a legal claim if they are injured on-the-job or suffer some other type of tort at sea, such as breach of contract. Such cases may be heard in admiralty courts.

What is an admiralty court?

Historically, admiralty courts were separate from federal or state courts. Admiralty courts had jurisdiction over maritime law cases. This included shipping, ocean and sea law cases. These days, however, maritime law cases may be heard in federal courts or Superior Courts, making any court hearing a maritime case an admiralty court for the length of the case.

What types of cases do admiralty courts hear?

Generally, admiralty courts hear civil claims such as contracts, torts, injuries and other harms covered by maritime law. This may include cases regarding shipping issues, boating issues, insurance issues, collisions at sea, injured seafarers, cargo and salvage cases, among other cases. In general, admiralty courts do not hear criminal cases. Admiralty courts can issue maritime liens against a ship, meaning the court can seize the vessel to settle a legal claim against the ship.

Learn more about maritime law

Maritime law can be complex, so it is important to seek the information you need to understand your rights and options. Ultimately, this post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s website on maritime law may be of interest to those who want to learn more about this topic.