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Maritime Law

Maritime law applies to all accidental injuries on the water. This includes injuries sustained while working on the water, as well as those sustained while boating, jet skiing, vacationing on a cruise ship, or other recreational activities. Accidents on the water fall under federal maritime laws, while car accidents are subject to state personal injury laws. Therefore, the process and factors involved in getting the compensation you deserve after an injury on the water can be much different. Because of this, you are more likely to receive the full amount of compensation you deserve if you have the help of a skilled attorney with extensive experience in maritime law.

Rutter Mills has been the pre-eminent authority in maritime law in Hampton Roads for more than 50 years, and we have handled a number of large, nationally significant cases – tragedies that have made headlines. Founding partner Arthur Rutter served as President of the Admiralty and Maritime Law Association, and managing partner Brother Rutter held this same position. Brother also taught maritime law at the University of Richmond: TC Williams School of Law, and is much in demand as a guest lecturer on the topic for attorneys across the country.

Maritime laws can be complicated. There are differences in maritime laws governing injuries that occur while working on the water and injuries that occur while boating or enjoying other recreational activities. Rutter Mills has decades of experience successfully representing clients in each kind of case.

what Our Clients Say

“I am so happy with Rutter Mills and their staff. I highly recommend them. I am so happy I chose them to represent me! One of the best decisions I ever made.”
– Joshua, Rutter Mills Client

Jones Act Law

Covering Injuries While Working on the Water
If you are injured while working on the water, you need a lawyer with a thorough understanding of The Jones Act, the primary piece of protective maritime legislation in the United States. Unfortunately, insurance companies can – and will – use the complexity of the law and the specialized nature of the industry to delay or avoid paying benefits.

Why the Jones Act lawyer you choose matters

If you are injured while working on the water, you need a lawyer with a thorough understanding of The Jones Act, the primary piece of protective maritime legislation in the United States. Unfortunately, insurance companies can – and will – use the complexity of the law and the specialized nature of the industry to delay or avoid paying benefits.
  • The insurance carrier for the owner of the maritime company (and/or ship owner) will be on that vessel as soon as it comes into port – and possibly while still at sea. They will want to speak with you right away, have you fill out an accident report, and accept their settlement offer. No matter how friendly or promising they sound, you are under no legal obligation to do so, and refusing will not prevent you from receiving compensation for your injuries.
  • It is likely that the accident report will be used against you.
  • Your employer is obligated to pay for certain expenses, but you will probably not be informed about what those are unless and until you speak with an attorney.
  • You have the right to seek treatment from any doctor you choose.
  • Remember that the employer and insurance company have a vested interest in paying as few damages as possible, regardless of your expenses and the extent of your injuries.

RECREATIONAL MARITIME LAW

Covering Injuries While Boating, Jet Skiing, or on a Cruise
Boating accidents - and other accidents on the water - fall under federal maritime laws that are different from Jones Act laws. The process and factors involved in getting the compensation you deserve can be much different. Because of this, you are more likely to receive the full amount of compensation you deserve if you have the help of a skilled attorney with extensive experience in maritime law – one who knows the intricate differences between maritime law and state personal injury law.

Why the Maritime Lawyer you choose matters

Here are a few reasons why choosing a Rutter Mills maritime lawyer over just any personal injury law firm is important when you are injured in a boating accident or other recreational accident on the water.
  • Timeframe for Filing Claim May be Shorter - If you are injured at sea, federal maritime laws often allow for a longer timeframe than state personal injury laws in which you must file a claim against the responsible party. But in certain cases – for example, if your injury was sustained on a cruise ship vacation – you may have only one year or less to file a claim.
  • The Factors for Compensation are Different - In accidents on land, state laws dictate what factors (such as pain and suffering) will contribute to the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. Factors that contribute to the amount of compensation you may receive may be different when you are injured on the water. This is especially true in wrongful death claims.
  • What Constitutes “Liability” for an Injury is Different - When injured on the water, there are very specific circumstances that must have occurred in order to claim liability against another person.
“My partner Adam Lotkin and I recently helped a Jones Act seaman who was badly injured while working in a foreign port. Both legs were crushed, and he lost his right foot. We were able to get a $3.75 million settlement for him, but he’ll never work as a seaman or engineer again, and nothing in his life will ever be the same. This is hard, risky work – and it takes a special kind of person to do it. Our job is to see that the law protects these men and women as best it can.”
– Brother Rutter
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