Limitation of Liability Act
Maritime Lawyers Experienced in Handling Limitation of Liability Act Claims
When catastrophic injuries to Jones Act seamen occur, vessel owners frequently assert an ancient maritime law called the Limitation of Liability Act (46 USC Sec. 181-189). The United States Congress passed the Limitation of Liability Act in 1851 to protect the shipping trade. The Act, which has long outlived its purposes, is frequently employed still today by vessel owners to attempt to limit their damage exposure to injured crewmen, passengers and guests.
Although the Limitation of Liability Act is disfavored, it may be used to limit a vessel owners damage exposure to the value of the vessel at the end of the voyage upon which the injury occurred. Where a fishing vessel or ship has sunk, the value of the vessel at the end of the voyage may be virtually nothing, leaving the person who has been killed or injured entitled to little or no damages for their injuries. Where the actual value of the vessel is little and the personal injury or death damages are great, the vessel owner will attempt to invoke the Limitation of Liability Act defense. In cases involving amputation injuries, brain injuries, burn injuries and deaths, the Limitation of Liability Act is used by the vessel owners and insurance companies to try to defend against paying the compensation that is owed to the injured party.
Defeating Limitation of Liability Act Cases
The owner’s defense of Limitation of Liability may be defeated by experienced maritime lawyers. However, the cases are frequently procedurally and factually complex. Where it can be shown that the vessel owner had “privity and knowledge” of an unseaworthy condition, or where the owner participated in the negligent act causing the injury, or knew or should have known of the acts or omissions leading to the injury, then Limitation of Liability can be defeated. Thorough understanding of maritime law and the duties and obligations of a vessel owner is critical to an injured party successfully recovering full compensation for their injuries. Detailed investigation is frequently needed to defeat the Limitation of Liability Act defense.
Even where the owner’s privity and knowledge of negligence or an unseaworthiness condition may not be shown, other factors must still be considered. Violation of construction standards and safety regulations may also be used to defeat a Limitation of Liability Act Defense. In many cases, valuable fishing rights may be attached to the vessel that should be included in calculating the value of the vessel for purpose of the Limitation of Liability Act.
You Have Limited Time to Respond to a Limitation of Liability Defense
If you have been injured and received a notice of a Petition For Limitation by the vessel owner, you should contact an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible. There is a limited time period to answer a Petition for Limitation of Liability and assert your rights to damages. A timely and proper answer must be filed to protect your rights.
Experienced in Handling Limitation of Liability Claims
The maritime lawyers at Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC have extensive experience in dealing with maritime injury claims involving the Limitation of Liability Act. They have defeated these defenses in cases involving crewmen’s catastrophic injury, including brain injuries, amputation injuries, and burn injuries. The firm has defeated the Limitation of Liability Act defense in many death claims, including the cases involving the sinkings of the fishing vessels ALEUTIAN ENTERPRISE, ARCTIC ROSE, ALASKA RANGER, KATMAI, PACE SETTER, PACIFIC APOLLO, GALAXY, and VESTFJORD. Let them put their years of maritime law experience in defeating Limitation of Liability defenses to work for you. Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC is available to serve clients throughout the Country on Limitation of Liability Act cases.