Maritime Law in Hawaii


Aloha and welcome to Maritime Law in Hawaii`i: what it is and how it affects us all. Everyday our lives are touched by the ocean surrounding our wonderful Hawaiian Islands. We experience in the ocean, on the ocean, by the ocean, near the ocean, and in sight of the ocean. We live in it and on it. We work in it, we play in it. The ocean giveth and the ocean taketh. This is our maritime world.

Many of us have boats and other water craft, whether surfboards, paddle boards, canoes, kayaks, or jet skis. Usually, we do not even think about how our ocean lifestyles are affected by maritime law. It is the intent of this new editorial column to bring you up to speed on the state of maritime law in Hawaii`i, and how the laws can affect you for your benefit or to your detriment.

Did you know that national statistics by the U.S. Coast Guard show approximately 7,000 boating accidents reported each year, involving about 9,000 boats, resulting in 1,000 fatalities and about $25 million in property damage! These accidents can be prevented. Education is the key to water safety. Check out the web site of the state Department of Land and Natural Resourc-es, Division of Boating and Ocean Recre-ation @ (

Did you know that for tow-in surfing, both the personal watercraft operator AND the surfer must be certified for safe use of the watercraft by the DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR)? Did you know that DLNR mandates that all individuals who operate a motorized vessel in Hawaii`i State waters must take a boating safety course and show proof of certification? The text of the manda-tory boater education rule can be found at . Many of your questions can be answered online, but if you need assistance, let us know here at our office.

As an attorney at law licensed in all State and Federal Courts in Hawaii`i for more than 30 years, it has been my professional passion to successfully represent the legal interests of injured seamen, injured dock workers, injured passenger line and dinner cruise passengers, and civilian employees of military bases: to resolve their injury claims and disputes fairly. My law firm represents injured workers under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. As an experienced litigator and advocate, I fight in Federal Court for persons injured under Maritime law and Admiralty law. I am this year’s chairperson of the Hawai`i State Bar Association’s Admiralty Law sec-tion which is an organization of maritime lawyers.

My law firm successfully represented a seaman injured while using defective paint equipment. We successfully represented a seaman injured by damaging waves on a whale watching excursion. We successfully represented a seaman injured while stowing heavy gear on a tug boat. We successfully represented a seaman injured while trying to repair a ship’s rudder. People get injured on the ocean, and when they do, they need experienced Maritime law advocates.

In my next installment, I will discuss how boaters, divers, and their ocean recreation users share responsibility for ocean mari-time safety.

The Law Offices of Douglas Thomas Moore, LLC Personal Injury, Maritime

Call for a free consultation (808) 526-0056 [email protected]