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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Maritime Law?

    Admiralty Law. "Admiralty and Maritime Law" is that distinct and separate practice of law dealing with rules, concepts, and legal practices governing vessels, the shipping industry, the carrying of goods and passengers by water as well as related maritime concepts. Admiralty and maritime law includes the substantive law and procedural rules associated with the general maritime law of the United States, admiralty jurisdiction and procedure, personal injury and wrongful death of seamen and passengers aboard vessels, compensation for injury and wrongful death of longshoremen and harbor workers, government regulation of marine safety and the maritime industry, carriage of goods, charter parties, salvage, general average, collision, marine insurance, maritime liens, limitation of liability, marine pollution and environmental law, maritime arbitration, recreational vessels, vessel finance and documentation, international aspects of maritime practice as well as other maritime topics which because of their special history, as well as for historical and practical reasons, have been recognized as distinctly different from our modern system of common law and have been traditionally grouped and practiced as "admiralty and maritime law."  Maritime Law is generally the same whether your case happens in Florida or any other state, though there are circumstances in which State law may be allowed to supplement Maritime law, as long as no conflict with existing precedent is created.

    This is the description found in the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, in the Legal Specialization section for Admiralty specilists.  Mr. Boyd is Certified in Admiralty under the Rules of the Florida Bar.

  2. Can any lawyer handle my case?

    If your case involves Admiralty and Maritime Law, you should hire an Admiralty and Maritime lawyer.  The problem with a person who generally handles car accidents, divorces or writes wills is that he will not know all the intricate details of Maritime Law.  For instance, if you mention that you need a vessel arrested to a lawyer who does not do Admiralty and Maritime Law cases, they would probably not know that was possible.  However, arresting vessels is something we do on a routine basis.

  3. What does it mean to be a Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime Law attorney?

    The Florida Bar tests attorneys in several different specialties.  One of those specialties is Admiralty and Maritime Law.  There are only approximately 60 Admiralty and Maritime Board Certified lawyers in the State of Florida. Mr. Boyd is a Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime lawyers.  To be Board Certified, a lawyer must pass the test provided by The Florida Bar, must have been practicing in the area of Admiralty and Maritime Law for at least 5 years, a large percentage of their cases must be in the area of Admiralty and Maritime Law, and they must be approved by a peer group of Board Certified lawyers designated by The Florida Bar.

  4. What does an injured crew member have to do in the litigation process?

    The injured crew member must help the attorney in putting together the case.  The injured crew member is required to give a deposition after the case is filed.  A deposition is a sworn statement wherein the seaman is asked questions by the Defendant's attorney.  The seaman must help respond to written questions from the Defendant known as interrogatories.  The seaman must provide any documentation that the lawyer needs to prove the case.  The  seaman must attend the mediation conference where the parties attempt to settle the case.  If the mediation is unsuccessful, the seaman must attend the trial.

  5. How long is it between the time I sign a contract until the time the case is over?

    Typically, a seaman signs a contract with the attorney and the attorney takes a month or two to put together all of the facts of the case.  The attorney can then speak with the Defendants to see if an out‑of‑court settlement can be reached.  If a settlement cannot be reached, the case is filed in either State or Federal Court.  It usually takes about a year from the date a case is filed until the date of the trial.

  6. How do I pay my lawyers?

    Personal injury cases are taken on a contingency fee basis.  Typical contingency fee agreements are 33 % fee if the case is settled prior to the case being filed in court and 40 % fee once the case is filed in court.  The client is responsible for costs of the case which are expert witness fees, filing fees, photocopies, postage etc.  The attorney will pay the costs of the case up front.  Once the case is settled or a verdict is reached, the client will reimburse the attorney for the cost of litigation.  If there is no recovery, the client does not pay any fees or costs.

  7. Where will suit be filed?

    The case will be filed where the accident happened or where the Defendant has a place of business.  The case will typically be filed in the State Court that is closest to the Plaintiff's home, where the court can obtain jurisdiction over the Defendant.

  8. What is "maintenance and cure"?

    Maintenance is the amount of money that is owed by the employer to the Jones Act seaman who has fallen ill or has been injured onboard the ship.  The seaman does not have to prove negligence in order to be entitled to maintenance and cure.  Maintenance is the amount of money it costs to live on shore; such as, food, housing, electricity, etc.  Cure is the medical bills that are reasonable and necessary as a result of the injury or illness.  Both maintenance and cure are paid until the doctor states that the seaman is at maximum medical cure, meaning that the seaman's condition will not get any better.

  9. Can a seaman sue his employer?

    Yes, a seaman can sue his employer pursuant to the Jones Act.  The seaman must prove that the employer was negligent or that his co-worker was negligent and that this negligence, at least in part, contributed to his injury.

  10. Can a seaman sue his employer for the unseaworthiness of the vessel?

    Yes, a seaman can sue his employer for the vessel being unseaworthy.  This is what is known as strict liability.  The seaman does not have to prove that the employer knew or should have known about the defective condition that injured him.  The seaman must only prove that a defective condition existed or that a crew member did something wrong and caused him to be injured.  This is much easier than proving a negligence case.

  11. Do the courts look out for seamen?

    Yes, the courts do look out for seamen.  In Admiralty and Maritime cases the Judge hearing the case is to look out for the seaman because the seaman is said to be a "Ward of the Court".  This means that the court hearing an Admiralty and Maritime case will be more favorable to a seaman than any other type of injured person.

  12. Can a seaman get maintenance and cure benefits at the same time he is suing his employer for Jones Act negligence and unseaworthiness?

    Yes, most of the time when a seaman files a complaint, he lists 3 counts.  The first count is for the Jones Act negligence of the employer.  The second count for the unseaworthiness of the vessel that caused his injury.  The third count is for maintenance and cure, if all maintenance and cure has not been properly paid.  If the court finds that the seaman is entitled to maintenance and cure, the court can award attorneys' fees to the seaman's attorney for having go to court to force the employer to pay maintenance and cure that was owed.

  13. Who will actually handle my case if I hire Boyd Law, P.A. to represent me?

    Your case will be handled by Tim Boyd, Howard Sutter or both.  Your case will not be assigned to an associate or paralegal.  The biggest complaint that we hear about lawyers is that every time the client calls his lawyer the lawyer is out of the office, in a meeting or too busy to talk to the client, and the call is either not returned or returned a week later.  In our opinion that is not sufficient.  If you retain Boyd Law, P.A., your calls will be taken when you call in or will be returned the same day, if we are on another line or out of the office at the time of the call.