Maritime law is a subset of transportation law usually related to the movement of goods and persons by sea. The firm has experience in construction and repair contracts for vessels, charter agreements (bare boat or time charters), as well as liability claims arising from collisions, Acts of God and negligence. Maritime law has a vocabulary of its own and its own rules. One example is the law of general average that allows a vessel to call upon the owner of the cargo to share in the loss. Interplayed with substantive maritime law are special rules relating to maritime insurance. Maritime law often involves disputes that are governed by international treaties and agreements.
The maritime industry underwent a technological revolution when it shifted from break bulk to containerization. The size and speed of modern ships have increased substantially. These developments have caused changes on the administrative level as various federal and international agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, have addressed concerns of oil pollution and the dangers presented by the movement of increasingly larger and faster vessels.
The firm has considerable experience in all of these areas. Of note was the 2007 incident involving the vessel, Cosco Busan, which struck the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge and released approximately 58,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay. Chiles and Prochnow was involved in the settlement of that claim. More typical cases include cargo claims for goods in transit and insurance coverage of marine-related losses.