While there are many important aspects of maritime law when it comes to filing suit for death or injury, perhaps one of the most important may be that of the statute of limitations. Statutory limitations serve a time limit for when a maritime death or personal injury case may be filed. Once that time limit has passed you are no longer able to file for damages.
The Uniform Statute of Limitations for Maritime Torts provides for a general three-year statute of limitations regarding death or injury on navigable waters. This applies to incidents occurring under both the Jones and the Death on the High Seas Acts, and to claims for injuries based on the unseaworthiness of a vessel. These claims may be filed by either the injured party or the family of the victim. That is the spouse, parent, child, or another dependent relative of the seaman who was killed.
Maintenance & Cure is also largely treated as being held to the three-year standard. Although this has not been definitively defined by the courts as the legal standard, the Uniform Statue is still considered to be a benchmark that is generally respected in this case. If there is a reason you have been prevented from filing your claim under maintenance and cure, it is possible that you will be able to file after the 3-year time limit. However, the burden of proof is on your to explain why you were not able to file in time.
There are exceptions to the three-year standard, particularly in the case of cruise lines who may limit the statute of limitations for death, injury, sexual offenses, and more in the contract printed on the ticket, which has been agreed upon by the passenger by utilizing the ticket.
If the time to file a claim has passed there may be little you can do, unless you feel you have been coerced into not filing your claim. It is imperative to remain on top of the situation and to act as quickly as possible, though that may be difficult when dealing with death, serious injury, or even sexual assault.
For help in filing any maritime claim contact Friedman, James & Buchsbaum LLP before the statute of limitations expires to ensure that you get as much as you are entitled to under the law.