Maritime Statute Of Limitations

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If you have been involved in a maritime personal injury matter relating to your maritime work position, then you know that a claim or lawsuit must adhere to the rules, or else you could forfeit just and fair compensation. One specific rule that impacts the possibility to forfeit your right to compensation for a personal injury or wrongful death is the statute of limitations. At Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, we are firmly mindful of statute of limitations and how each piece of legislation or case may have a different deadline to file a claim or lawsuit. Our experienced maritime lawyers prepare each case in accordance, making sure a statute of limitations neither goes unnoticed or expires without filing a claim first.

Many cases do not end well because deadlines come and go, and once they are gone, you lose the right to file a claim or lawsuit forever. Don’t let that happen to you. Contact Gilman & Bedigian, LLC today to discuss your maritime personal injury case. You don’t pay us until we obtain compensation for you.

Statute of Limitations in Maritime Law

Each sector of maritime personal injury law has their specific statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is law, too, and it is pertinent to specific jurisdiction (federal or state). A statute of limitations outlines the time frame a specific law remains executable, which means the period of time you have a legal right to file your claim or lawsuit.

In a maritime law context, statutes of limitation restrict or limit the period of time that a maritime worker possesses to file a lawsuit against another person or entity or that a widow / widower or other dependents have to file a lawsuit against the same. To determine what your specific statute of limitation is in your maritime personal injury or wrongful death case, you must first know the jurisdiction and choice of law. Even then, the statute of limitations may vary according to specific factors and circumstances surrounding your case.

In a maritime law context (like most other personal injury contexts), a statute of limitations commences on the day the injury or death occurred or from the date of discovery of the injury. Generally, a statute of limitations ranges from 1 – 3 years in the maritime context, which can be either longer or shorter than most state statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death cases, the longest state statute of limitations for personal injury or wrongful death is 6 years while the shortest is 1 year. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 3 years, while medical malpractice is 3 years from discovery of the injury or 5 years from the injury, whichever is earlier. Medical malpractice could matter if you are a passenger on a cruise ship and receive inappropriate care by a contracted, independent doctor while on the cruise.

The Purpose of a Maritime Statute of Limitations

There are several purposes of a maritime statute of limitations that can benefit both the plaintiff and the defendant. With regard to you — the plaintiff, a successful case is reliant on evidence. The longer you wait to file, the more the evidence erodes, disappears, becomes lost to memory or other. With regard to defendants, a statute of limitations is meant to safeguard their right to operate with minimal undue interference; they cannot be expected to wait for years before you file a claim or lawsuit. Finally with respect to both sides, it propels the parties into negotiations. Ultimately — though it can make you nervous with an approaching deadline — a statute of limitations is to your benefit.

The Consequences of Failure to Comply with the Relevant Statute of Limitations

If you fail to comply with the relevant statute of limitations in your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, you will almost always be barred from recovery. That means you cannot recover any of the following compensable losses.

Pecuniary Losses

  • Medical expenses, including appointments, operations, therapy, rehabilitation
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages of the deceased
  • Loss of financial support to dependents (financial contributions to spouse, children, and other dependents over the decedent’s expected work life expectancy)
  • Loss of support and services (monetary value of household duties and chores, yard work, etc., the deceased would have contributed)
  • Loss of nurture and guidance (specific to dependent children)
  • Loss of inheritance (the accrued wealth expected to be left for dependents)
  • Disability benefits
  • Pre-death medical expenses.

Non-Pecuniary Losses

  • Pre-death pain and suffering felt by the deceased
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Mental anguish, emotional distress.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded in rare circumstances and usually under a general maritime or state personal injury claim. In Maryland, punitive damages can be awarded for personal injury or wrongful death if actual malice was involved.

Relevant Statute of Limitations in Maritime Personal Injury Law


Statute of Limitations


The Jones Act

3 years from the time of the accident or 3 years from the time of discovery of the harm assumed to have been caused by a prior accident or incident on navigable waters

Death on the High Seas Act

3 years from date of death

Longshore Harbor and Workers’ Compensation Act

1 year from the alleged and documented date of the incident or accident that occurred during the course of employment

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

1 year from the alleged and documented date of the incident or accident that occurred during the course of employment

Defense Base Act

1 year from the alleged and documented date of the incident or accident that occurred during the course of employment

Resourceful, Compassionate Representation in Maryland

At Gilman & Bedigian, we have the knowledge, skill, and resources to pursue your case and work to obtain the maximum possible compensation. We understand how vessels work, how injuries like yours can happen, and how to address your specific case with all stakeholders. We negotiate but accept only an offer that benefits you, and in absence of the latter, we litigate — and that scared the defendant.

When you let us handle the details of the legal process, you free up personal space to address your physical recovery or your grieving and to spend time rebuilding your life. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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