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Admiralty law or maritime law is the separate body of law (both substantive and procedural) governing navigation and shipping. American admiralty law formerly applied only to American tidal waters. It now extends to any waters navigable within the United States for interstate or foreign commerce. In such waters admiralty jurisdiction includes maritime matters not involving interstate commerce, including recreational boating.
Claims arising out of defective vessels or equipment generally fall into two categories:
1) Products liability claims for injury to persons or property arising out of a dangerous or defective vessel or piece of the vessel’s equipment
2) Contractual and implied-in-law warranty claims against the manufacturer and seller of a vessel or equipment which is defective.
Every year, hundreds of boaters discover first-hand the difference between contract towing and salvage. The discovery is typically made when the surprised boat owner receives a bill for a salvage reward that is a significant percentage of the value of his vessel, as opposed to a bill for towing services. The typical towing bill is based upon the hourly-rates of the towing company. While such bills can be considerable, they will usually pale by comparison to a bill for a salvage reward.