Maritime cases can get  a bit tricky. The jurisdiction under the maritime or admiralty law is different from jurisdiction under common law. The statute of limitations allows a person three years to pursue legal action for a personal injury or wrongful death. After that time has passed a person can no longer file a claim no matter how severe their injury may have been.  Cargo cases must be brought within one year.

Although the Article III , Section 2 of the United States Constitution grants original jurisdiction to U.S. federal courts, there is a clause in place that allows most maritime cases to be heard in either state or federal courts.

There are five types of federal maritime cases that can be heard in court. The five cases share one common element that requires the court to exercise jurisdiction over maritime property.

Limitation of Shipowner’s Liability

  • A shipowner can limit its liability for value of the vessel and the freight that is pending when on sea. In this case, a shipowner will post a bond that reflects the value of the vessel and the pending freight in court.

Vessel Arrests in Rem

  • This focuses on the vessel rather than the personal liabilites.

Property arrests Quasi in Rem

  • In this case the property rights of a person is absent from the jurisdiction.

Salvage cases

  • This allows a person to recover the value of the property saved after they recover another person’s ship when it was loss or in danger at sea.

Petitory and Possession Actions

  • This type of case occurs when a vessel’s title is in dispute. This dispute is usually between co-owners and is in the possession of the court until the dispute is solved.