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How Do I Become a Maritime Expert Witness?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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In order to become a maritime expert witness, it’s critical to have an advanced knowledge of what happens on open waters, along with experience in the international legal system, and general knowledge of that system’s law and protocol. There are additional skills and experience that help with promoting a career as a maritime expert witness. Some of these involve outreach and advertising, as well as presentation in a formal legal context.

One of the first things that legal teams consider when they hire a maritime expert witness is the experience that one of these professional legal consultants brings to the table. The maritime expert witness should have experience with a range of legal issues and incidents that happen at sea, or in any kind of local or international waters. These include vessel sinkings and groundings, as well as structural problems with ship mounts or boat jacks and holders. Anchor failures and other mooring problems are another category of common incidents. It also helps for the maritime expert witness to understand what happens in maritime legal issues that go beyond the welfare of the actual craft and crew, such as oil spills.

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A maritime expert witness should have some knowledge of engineering principles related to water. Qualifications in hydrodynamics or other aspects of sea shipping can be a major benefit. This kind of legal consultant should also understand the specific legislation that governs maritime law in the national or regional justice system in which they practice. For example, in the American legal system. specific legislation like the Jones Act results in different rules for maritime law than for similar issues that happen on land, or in the waters of other countries.

In addition to knowing about shipping and other aspects of maritime law, the expert witness needs to have advanced knowledge of how courtrooms operate in his or her nation, as well as in an international context. Experience with municipal courts can really help an individual build a career and become a maritime expert witness. It also helps to have connections and experience talking to attorneys involved in maritime law. These sorts of connections can really help generate more clients for a maritime expert witness.

Along with all of the skills and qualifications needed to become a maritime expert witness, professionals often recommend that these individuals know how to market and advertise their services to legal teams. It helps to have experience and present services to both defendants and plaintiffs, to widen the client field and generally promote a greater set of capabilities for a maritime expert witness. Although word-of-mouth can be an effective means of advertising, industry professionals often recommend using business cards, as well as targeted Internet, radio, or print media advertising, to reach potential clients.

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