Seafarers Legal Advice

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Many crew members are not fully aware of their rights and protections and can therefore be exploited without even realizing it before it is too late. To remedy this, attorney Elias B. Rudnikas offers free legal advice to all crew members. Globally, SCI monitors and works to improve international and national standards that affect seafarers` living and working conditions. Over the years, the Institute has contributed to the introduction and implementation of important legislation to ensure safety in the maritime workplace and the fair treatment of seafarers. ICS lawyers regularly participate in the deliberations of the International Maritime Organization, the International Labour Organization, the United States Congress and other countries on seafarer matters. SCI has supported its advocacy initiatives through objective research and surveys on a variety of topics, including seafarers` shore-based leave and occupational health. Seafarers may write to lawyer Elias B. Rudnikas if they need clarification on the type of legal problem they have and the type of lawyer they should engage. In general, all seafarers have a right under the law of the sea: at the international level, International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions impose obligations on States, some of which create benefits for seafarers.

Phil joined Seamen`s Church Institute in November 2020 as Director of Mariner Advocacy, following a 30-year career with the U.S. Coast Guard. During his career, he served as Judge Advocate (Senior Legal Counsel) for District 8 of the Coast Guard and, prior to that, Master of the Port of New Orleans and a member of the United States Delegation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Phil is a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy, the College of William & Mary Law School, and the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy. He is currently a public sector adviser to various committees of the United States Delegation to IMO. Crew members of cruise ships, cargo ships and pleasure craft are regularly involved in accidents. Due to a seafarer`s fear of losing their job or facing retaliation when reporting an accident, breakdowns are not always reported. Even when injuries are reported, sometimes too much time elapses between the injury and the claim, leaving the crew member with extremely limited or non-existent recovery options. Crew members do not always receive the medical care or compensation they deserve for injuries on board, but they have the right to seek legal assistance from a boat accident lawyer once an incident occurs. SCI`s Center for Mariner Advocacy (CMA), formerly the Center for Seafarers` Rights (CSR), is recognized worldwide as the leading advocate for merchant seamen.

The Centre provides free legal assistance, seafarer training and legislative advocacy to seafarers and chaplains, and benefits greatly from SCI chaplains` day-to-day collaboration with seafarers. In the age of globalization, cruise lines seem to have almost unlimited influence when it comes to setting terms and conditions of employment, wages and working conditions. Fortunately, seafarers are not always at the mercy of their employers, as long as they know their rights and what they can do to get the compensation they deserve. Through education, SCI provides merchant seafarers, global port chaplains and others with the information and training they need on current issues affecting seafarers` rights. CMA lawyers teach and write materials for pastoral schools, maritime services and international conferences. Before hiring a lawyer, it`s best to first clarify the type of legal problem you have. It specifies in which country the lawyer must be admitted and in which area of law he must have experience. For example, a sailor accused of a crime and in need of a dedicated defense would need a licensed defense attorney in the country where the charges were laid. Seafarers requiring assistance can contact the Center for Mariner Advocacy by email using the cma@seamenschurch.org link below. If you need help or advice, please briefly describe the problem and provide important details such as your location, vessel name and country of registration. When your ship enters a port, that port state may exercise certain powers over the ship while it is in port.

In general, the port State does not interfere in the internal affairs of a ship unless there is a dispute concerning the peace and order of the port (for example, if a criminal offence is committed on board a ship). However, in many jurisdictions around the world, if you have a legal claim, for example for unpaid wages, you can bring an action in the courts of the port state. If necessary, ask for help knowing the laws of the port state. If you are a seafarer or a family member of a seafarer and are looking for legal advice, there are two types of lawyers who can help: The CMA operates the world`s only free legal aid service dedicated exclusively to the needs of merchant seafarers.