Maritime Claims Cases: A Unique Area of Subrogation Law

After hundreds of years, shipping still remains the predominant method of transporting goods worldwide. Contracts arranging these movements are vast and complex. The 2021 Suez Canal blockage by the Ever Given reminds us that waterway passage is unpredictable, and disputes are inevitable.  

For maritime clients, having a sophisticated and experienced subrogation legal team is paramount. Subrogated maritime claims can involve contract disputes, collisions, delays, groundings, sinking, loss of cargo, as well as injury to employees and others. 

Subrogated maritime law also governs personal harm that may befall the thousands of passengers who travel on cruise ships or other water-faring vessels each year. Understanding the nuances of this niche area of subrogation and insurance law is key to maximizing chances of your maritime subrogation claim resulting in recovery.

Jurisdictional Challenges in Maritime Subrogation

Admiralty and maritime law is a uniquely complex practice within the transportation sector. Special laws and regulations govern losses that occur on navigable waterways, including lakes, oceans, and rivers. In addition, maritime law may govern commercial activities that, while land-based, are maritime in nature. 

Maritime activity is heavily regulated by numerous federal and international agencies. Although the U.S. Constitution grants federal courts original jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime matters, most subrogated maritime actions can alternatively be brought in state court while still applying Federal Admiralty law under a federal provision called the Savings to Suitors Clause. 

The Savings to Suitors Clause allows the vast majority of tort actions in maritime subrogation cases – such as damage to property or personal injury claims – to be heard in state court. Rathbone Group attorneys are adept in knowing when and how to best choose a jurisdiction to hear a subrogated maritime legal claim. The importance of this strategic legal decision cannot be understated.   

Rathbone Group’s Maritime Subrogation Experience

Whether the subrogated claim involves limitation of liability, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), the Jones Act, or other tort or contract claims concerning a vessel or marina, Rathbone Group can help with the application of state and federal maritime statutes. In addition, our experience with experts and cause and origin investigations offers guidance in recovering claims for cargo damage, products liability, and collisions.