Attorney David I. Fuchs has over 21 years of experience in successfully representing accident victims, together with their families and friends who have suffered death or sustained and suffered serious bodily injuries because of the negligence of another.
There are two types of cases or fact situations that are generally found under the admiralty and maritime law. The first is admiralty and maritime matters arising out of an injury to persons or damage to property related to a vessel in navigation on the navigable waters of the United States during the course of traditional maritime activity with the potential for affecting maritime commerce. The concept of salvage arises from recovery of damaged property that includes treasure and a damaged or a derelict vessel. The second area is maritime contracts, which are all contracts that relate to the navigation, business or commerce of the sea.
The term “vessel” is defined in the statutes as “every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water”. Under this definition, even a Jet Ski and other personal watercraft qualify as a vessel.
The phrase “in navigation” does not mean that the vessel must be underway, but simply that the vessel must be capable of carrying out a transportation function.
“Navigable waters” are the waters of the United States on which there may be maritime commerce. The navigable waters of the United States consist of the inland river systems, the Intra coastal Waterway, navigable lakes, rivers and canals, and the offshore waters of the United States. About the only bodies of water that are not considered navigable waters of the United States are lakes that are totally within the boundaries of one state, such as the system of lakes in Florida created by the builders of Disney World.
“During the course of traditional maritime activity” means activities on navigable waters involving navigation and other activities traditionally undertaken by vessels. The activities do not have to be related strictly to commerce or involve only commercial vessels. They may be recreational activities. For example, a collision between two pleasure boats falls under the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.
The phrase “potential for affecting maritime commerce” has been given a very broad meaning by the courts and legislatures. For example, a fire on a noncommercial vessel at a marina located on a navigable waterway where there are few, if any, moored vessels, may satisfy this prong because the general feature of the incident, a fire, could potentially disrupt commercial activity by spreading to nearby commercial vessels or by making the marina inaccessible. Even in a case in which a passenger standing behind the operator in a high-speed pleasure craft fell backward, suffering serious injury, the court found potential for an impact on maritime commerce based on the possibility that the passenger could just have easily have fallen forward and interfered with the control of the boat, or the incident could have distracted the vessel’s operator and caused an accident.
It is important to recognize that if the case is an admiralty and maritime matter, the general federal maritime law as set down in United States statutes and decisions of federal appellate courts and United States Supreme Court pre-empt and take precedence over all state laws. This changes not only the substantive laws but also changes things such as the period of time in which lawsuits can be brought. Since the failure to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations effectively bars the entire claim, it is important to know at the outset what those limitations are and whether or not the admiralty and maritime limitations of the federal maritime law apply or the law of the various states apply.
With a few exceptions, particularly involving suits against the United States government, most admiralty and maritime matters can be brought in either the federal or state courts. However, even where an admiralty and maritime claim is brought in state court, the federal maritime law applies.
If the case is filed in state court, state law governs the right to a jury trial. Therefore, most state cases would entitle the litigants to a jury trial.
However, if the case is filed in federal court, and the only basis of jurisdiction is admiralty and maritime pursuant to United States statutes, there is no right to a jury trial.
In certain circumstances, if a case was filed initially in the state court where there was a right to a jury trial, and the case is removed to the federal court, the right to a jury trial will be preserved in the federal court after removal. However, cases filed against the United States are heard only by the Judge; no jury trial is allowed.
The source of federal maritime law is the United States Congress in the U.S. Code and also in written case decisions announced by the United States Courts. These court case decisions are known as the federal common law.
South Florida Admiralty and Maritime lawyer David I. Fuchs will represent you for injuries that include, but are not limited to:
After an accident on the high seas collision with another party, it is imperative to report the accident to the appropriate authorities and seek immediate medical treatment. It is then important to seek legal counsel to protect your legal rights by calling lawyer David I. Fuchs who will take your call and speak with you immediately about your motor vehicle accident. Attorney David I. Fuchs will then stand ready to fight for you to see that you get compensation for your pain and suffering, any lost wages and medical bills.
If you can not come to us lawyer David I. Fuchs will send a representative to see you. We speak English and Spanish. Se habla inglés y español.
Llame al abogado de accidentes de barcos David Fuchs.