MARITIME LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
After a person has been injured, they are often overwhelmed, confused, and in pain. During this difficult time, the injured party is often worried about how they should proceed. The last thing they would imagine is being sued by the owner of the vessel on which they were injured. This scenario is a possibility under the notion of “limitation of liability.”
Vessel owners can utilize this law to limit their liability in the wake of an accident, impacting the injured party’s ability to recover damages. For this reason, it is vital that a person who is injured seek an admiralty attorney who is familiar with maritime law and the Jones Act.
THE LAW WHEN IT COMES TO MARITIME
Under the law, a vessel owner can limit their liability in the event of an accident by utilizing the concept of “privity and knowledge.” In these cases, a vessel owner is allowed to limit their liability in cases unless the injury occurred due to “privity or knowledge.” This would mean that the vessel owner can only be found liable if the unseaworthiness or negligence that caused the accident was “known or should have been known” by the owner.
Vessel owners are allowed to apply this law on most waterways, including rivers and lakes, as well as the ocean. This law does not apply to waterways that are not considered “navigable.” Navigable waters are those that are subject to the tide or are used or have been used for transport or commerce. An attorney experienced in maritime law will be able to help you determine if this act applies in your case.
WHY MIGHT A VESSEL OWNER INITIATE A LIMITATION OF LIABILITY PROCEEDING?
Using limitation of liability can be very beneficial for a vessel owner. If an accident occurs between two vessels and injuries are sustained by multiple persons, the owner of the vessel at fault can seek to limit their liability against all the injured parties only the amount equal to the value of the boat after the accident. One could see how troublesome this could be as the value of the damaged boat is most likely not anywhere near the value of the damage incurred by the injured parties.
Vessel owners, however, may not limit liability on “maintenance and cure” for employees that are injured. They also may not limit liability for personal contracts, vessel repairs, or wages that they owe.
It should be noted that there is a statute of limitations on a vessel owner’s ability to file claims to limit liability. They need to file their claim within six months of receiving notice that a damage claim is being filed and exceeds that value of the vessel after it has been damaged.
SPEAK TO A MARITIME ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
If you or someone you know has been injured while on a sea vessel, the maritime accident attorneys at Madalon Law are knowledgeable and experienced in maritime law. They will be able to answer questions that you may have about liability and help you determine your best course of action.
The Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys of Madalon Law handle cases in Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.