Commercial Ship Accident Law




Commercial Ship Accident Laws relate to accidents that occur on commercial or cargo ships. Cargo ship accidents can result in serious injuries or even death to crew members, dock workers, and others, as well as significant losses of property. Commercial ship accidents can occur for many reasons, and can relate to shipping vessels, cruise ships, oil rigs, and many other types of large watercraft or structures. These accidents are governed by different and sometimes overlapping laws depending on where they occur and the nation whose flag each vessel is flying.

Cruise Ship Accidents

One area of recent interest has been commercial ship accidents on cruise lines. In the last decade, headlines have been filled with stories of cruise ships running aground, engine fires and other malfunctions leaving the vessel stranded at sea, and passengers falling overboard or becoming sick with dangerous communicable diseases while at sea. In every instance, laws and international agreements exist to govern how such incidents may be addressed, both in terms of remedying the immediate situation and in compensating the victims for their injuries. Other laws are in place to attempt to prevent such incidents from ever occurring in the first place, like minimum qualifications for those running the ships, designated safe routes the ships are permitted to take, and international safety equipment regulations.

Because of the scale of these vessels and their capacity for international transport, a number of other areas of law are triggered by accidents. These can include immigration laws if passengers are required to disembark in a country other than their intended destination, environmental laws if the vessel causes damage to the ecosystem (such as when it runs aground), personal injury laws for any persons injured in the accident, and many more.

Cargo Ship Accidents

Much like cruise ships, cargo ship accidents can also be quite damaging. Aside from injuring crew members and potentially putting millions or even billions of dollars worth of cargo at risk, the potential for ecological disaster and international disagreements are often enormous. Cargo ship accidents may trigger a number of personal injury claims on behalf of crew members, dock workers, or any other person who may be injured in the accident. There may also be claims under the Jones Act related to these injuries. Should the accident cause the sinking of a cargo ship, international laws regarding salvage and recovery may be triggered. Environmental laws may come into play should the accident result in ecological disaster, such as the rupturing of the hull of an oil tanker. And, a wide array of international laws may be triggered by a cargo ship accident, particularly if the accident occurs as the result of two or more vessels flying different flags impacting one another.

Oil Rig Accidents

Another area of much recent media attention has been the oil rig accident. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a perfect example of the types of laws and regulations that such accidents may trigger. There were personal injury and worker claims made by personnel on the rig, as well as those who were secondary sufferers of the oil spill. The accident affected the economic livelihood of millions of people who relied on fishing and other industries that were damaged by the spill to make a living. It also brought on congressional hearings, Environmental Protection Agency actions, and a bevy of other administrative actions.

Commercial ship accidents can cover an incredibly diverse range of legal issues from contract disputes to injury laws and even international treaties. For more information about commercial ship accidents, please review the materials found below or contact an attorney in your area. You can find an attorney by visiting our Law Firms page (simply click the “Law Firms” tab on the menu bar, above).

Copyright HG.org


Articles on HG.org Related to Commercial Ship Accident Law

  • Wrongful Death at Sea: Liability, Non-Pecuniary Damages, and Survivors’ Legal Remedies
    The recent U.S. District Court (Western District of Washington) case of Michael Mechling, et al. v. Holland America Line, Inc., highlights two key factors in determining legal remedies for survivors of nonseafaring individuals who suffer fatal injuries at sea.
  • Florida Boating Safety
    Sadly, many Florida boat owners are blind to boating safety and fail to maintain a safe ship. Most boats by their nature do not offer secure footing and provide the relaxation and excitement which often override safety precautions. All too often we hear of deaths and crippling injuries when a negligent boat owner fails to yield the right of way to another boat or maintain a safe vessel.
  • Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Accident
    Perhaps one of the most prolific – and horrendous – cruise ship accidents in recent memory was the January 2012 sinking of the Costa Concordia. When the ship ran aground off the cost of Italy, 4,200 passengers and crew members were forced to evacuate. Unfortunately, dozens of passengers were injured and a yet-still-unknown number killed.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Report Reveals Health Problems Aboard Cruise Ship.
    Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released additional inspection reports for its Vessel Sanitation Program (“VSP”), which is designed to assist the cruise ship industry in preventing and controlling introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses, i.e. food poisoning, on cruise ships.
  • Cruise Ship Claims
    A vacation aboard a cruise ship can be a memorable experience, an affordable, all-inclusive vacation option, and a great way to see exotic ports of call. But, what happens when something goes wrong and your memories end up being of sickness, injury, inadequate medical care, fire, being stranded, crime, or even the wrongful death of a loved one?
  • Settling a Jones Act Claim Out of Court
    There are times when settling a Jones Act claim out of court may lead to more compensation and ultimately be the best option for an injured maritime worker.
  • Cruise Ship Accidents & Injuries: Calculating Lost Tips as Part of Wages in a Claim
    Workers injured in cruise ship accidents may recover lost wages if employer negligence is to blame. Tips may be estimated based on averages and income tax returns.
  • Filing a Jones Act Claim: Accident Reports and Recorded Statements
    Filing a Jones Act claim doesn’t necessitate an accident report or a recorded statement. If you’ve been injured at sea, a Gulf Coast maritime attorney can review your case.
  • Requirements of a Good Jones Act Attorney
    A Gulf Coast attorney who handles Jones Act law cases can help when you’ve suffered a maritime work injury. The attorney you choose to work with should have a lengthy history with Jones Act regulations, resources in the field who can help prove your case, and a stellar reputation in maritime law.
  • New Orleans Emergency on a Boat: What to Do
    A New Orleans maritime lawyer can help if you have been injured while working offshore. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency on a boat can save lives and prevent injuries. The best way to do this is to be prepared before you take to the waters.

Commercial Ship Accident Law - US

  • ABA - Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee

    The Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee of TIPS is the only organized ABA group devoted to the study and practice of admiralty and maritime law.

  • Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security - 33 CFR Chapter I

    In the performance of their duties, all Coast Guard Administrative Law Judges are bound by law and the regulations in this chapter or in 33 CFR chapter I. Statements of policy, clarification of points of procedure, and general administrative instructions are published in Administrative Law Judges' Circulars and Administrative Law Judges' Internal Practices and Procedures Series.

  • Federal Maritime Commission

    The Commission regulates common carriers by water and other persons involved in the oceanborne foreign commerce of the United States under provisions of the Shipping Act of 1984 (46 U.S.C. 40101-41309); section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920 (46 U.S.C. 42101-42109); the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988 (46 U.S.C. 42301-42307); sections 2 and 3, Public Law 89-777, Financial Responsibility for Death or Injury to Passengers and for Non-Performance of Voyages (46 U.S.C. 44101-44106); and other applicable statutes.

  • Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System - Canadian and US Regulations

    The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System is a deep draft waterway extending 3,700 km (2,340 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean to the head of the Great Lakes, in the heart of North America. The St. Lawrence Seaway portion of the System extends from Montreal to mid-Lake Erie. Ranked as one of the outstanding engineering feats of the twentieth century, the St. Lawrence Seaway includes 13 Canadian and 2 U.S. locks.

  • Maritime Administration - US Department of Transportation

    The Maritime Administration is the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation. Its programs promote the use of waterborne transportation and its seamless integration with other segments of the transportation system, and the viability of the U.S. merchant marine. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety.

  • Maritime Administration and Department of Transportation - Shipping

    The regulations in this part govern practice and procedure before the Maritime Administration and Maritime Subsidy Board (as described in 49 CFR 1.66 and 1.67), hereinafter referred to collectively as the Administration,'' under the Merchant Marine Act, 1920, as amended, Merchant Marine Act, 1936, as amended, Merchant Ship Sales Act, 1946, Administrative Procedure Act, and related Acts.

  • Maritime Arbitration Association of the United States

    The MAA is the national organization of the maritime community for alternative dispute resolution. We educate the public about alternative dispute resolution, facilitate training for neutrals in this specialized field, and administer dispute resolution proceedings on a nonprofit basis.

  • Shipping Act of 1984

    The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent regulatory agency responsible for the regulation of oceanborne transportation in the foreign commerce of the U.S. The principal statutes or statutory provisions administered by the Commission are: the Shipping Act of 1984, the Foreign Shipping Practices Act of 1988, section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920, and Public Law 89-777.

  • US Coast Guard - Office of Investigations and Analysis

    The Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship is responsible for developing and promulgating national marine safety, security and environmental protection doctrine, policy, and regulations. Additionally it ensures policy alignment throughout the Coast Guard, and among federal and international partners. Furthermore it leads and oversees the important work of numerous federal advisory committees, industry/stakeholder partnerships, and international delegations on marine safety, security, and environmental protection.

Commercial Ship Accident Law - International

  • International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH)

    Its principle objective is to develop and foster good relations and cooperation among all ports and harbors in the world by proving a forum to exchange opinions and share experiences on the latest trends of port management and operations. IAPH strives to emphasize and promote the fact that ports form a vital link in the waterborne transportation and play such a vital role in today's global economy.

  • International Chamber of Commerce - Committee on Maritime Transport

    Our mission: To bring together shippers, carriers, intermediaries and ports and elaborate global business positions on issues such as liberalization, competition and the environment. The committee maintains that shipping can best serve world trade if allowed to operate on a commercial basis, in a competitive market free from protectionism and other forms of market-distorting government support.

  • International Committe on Seafarers' Welfare

    We are an international umbrella organisation dedicated to the practical implementation of the International Labour Organisation instruments on Seafarers Welfare Convention 163 & Recommendation 173 and the Marine Labour Convention 2006. The ICSW is a Company Limited by Guarantee registered under United Kingdom Law. The ICSW is a 'Not For Profit' organisation governed by its Memorandum of Association, Articles of Association and Rules.

  • International Maritime Organization (IMO)

    IMO is primarily concerned with the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution, but the Organization has also introduced regulations covering liability and compensation for damage, such as pollution, caused by ships.

  • International Salvage Union (ISU)

    International Salvage Union (ISU) member salvors provide essential services for the world's maritime and insurance communities. Members are engaged in marine casualty response, pollution defence, wreck removal, cargo recovery, towage and related activities. The principles of salvage and salvage law have evolved over many centuries. A fundamental concept is that the salvor should be encouraged by the prospect of an appropriate salvage award to intervene in any casualty situation to salve the ship, property and, in particular, to save life and prevent pollution. The salvor's right to a reward is based on natural equity, which allows the salvor to participate in the benefit conferred to shipowner, the ship itself and the ship's cargo.

  • International Ship Managers' Association

    Founded as ISMA InterManager was founded origionally under the name ISMA - International Ship Management Association. The idea behind ISMA at its foundation in 1991 was to improve standards in ship management and achieve a safer, more environmentally conscious, more reliable, and more controllable ship management industry. This continues to be the aim of the Association.

  • International Transportation Safety Association

    ITSA covers all modes of transportation, including aviation, marine, railways, road transport, pipelines and underground infrastructure as well as multimodal systems. Actual involvement of members in investigating transportation accidents may vary considerable across modes and countries. Summaries of reports and documents are made available to share information of a general interest to members and others in the transportation field. For access to full reports or documents, visit the websites of each member noted in the related websites section. Other international organisations are also referenced.

  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

    Navigational rights, territorial sea limits, economic jurisdiction, legal status of resources on the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, passage of ships through narrow straits, conservation and management of living marine resources, protection of the marine environment, a marine research regime and, a more unique feature, a binding procedure for settlement of disputes between States - these are among the important features of the treaty. In short, the Convention is an unprecedented attempt by the international community to regulate all aspects of the resources of the sea and uses of the ocean, and thus bring a stable order to mankind's very source of life.

Organizations Related to Commercial Ship Accident Law

  • American Maritime Officers

    American Maritime Officers is the largest union of merchant marine officers in the U.S. AMO officers work aboard U.S.-flagged merchant and military sealift vessels, and AMO holds an exclusive and expanding presence in the international energy transportation trades.

  • American Salvage Association

    The American Salvage Association meets with various federal and state agencies to exchange views on the improvement of salvage and firefighting response in the U.S. It is the intent to also interface with vessel owners and their underwriting interests as well as various public interest groups to assure a better understanding of all views to assure a successful and protective response when required in the future.

  • Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA)

    The Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA) represents 33 U.S. based companies that either own, operate or charter oceangoing tankers, container ships, dry bulk vessels engaged in both the domestic and international trades and companies that maintain a commercial interest in the operation of such oceangoing vessels. Current members include companies that own or operate U.S. flag or foreign-flag ships.

  • Committee on the Marine Transportation System

    The purpose of the CMTS is to create a partnership of Federal departments and agencies with responsibility for the Marine Transportation System.

  • Transportation Institute

    The goal of the Transportation Institute is to help maintain America's political and economic strength and national security. The Transportation Institute advocates and works for sound national maritime policy, without which America's global position would falter.

Publications Related to Commercial Ship Accident Law

  • Federal Maritime Commission - Frequently Asked Questions

    The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) was established as an independent regulatory agency by Reorganization Plan No. 7, effective August 12, 1961. Prior to that time, the Federal Maritime Board was responsible for both the regulation of ocean commerce and the promotion of the United States Merchant Marine.


Find a Local Lawyer