Limitation of Liability Act

Cargo ship in calm water, Jones Act

Maritime Attorney Explains The Limitation of Liability Act

If you are a maritime worker who has been injured working on a ship or vessel you probably have many questions about your legal rights. Maritime injury cases are complex and should be handled by a qualified attorney who has extensive experience dealing with maritime injury claims. Your attorney should know the ins and outs of maritime law and be well equipped to take an aggressive stance against the maritime industry.

When a maritime accident occurs the owner of the vessel can seek to limit its liability under the Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act (Limitation Act), 46 U.S.C. § 30501 et seq. The Limitation Act permits vessel owners to limit their liability to the value of the vessel provided that the accident was “done, occasioned, or incurred without the privity or knowledge of the [vessel] owner.” This means if the vessel owner petitions the court to limit its liability and wins, your damages will be limited to the post-accident value of the vessel no matter how severe your injuries may be.

History and Rationale for the Limitation Act

The Limitation of Liability Act was enacted by Congress in 1851 in an effort to protect ship owners and increase the competitiveness of the shipping industry. At the time of its enactment, the Limitation Act made sense – ship owners faced tremendous challenges when navigating the seas and if a catastrophic accident occurred, the ship owner’s potential liability could far exceed the value of its ship.

The technological advances available today have changed the shipping industry and critics of the Limitation Act argue that the Act is no longer serves its intended purposes. Despite such criticism, the Limitation Act is still the law and provides the owners of all navigable vessels, including yachts, jet skis and other recreational watercraft, with a powerful means to limit their liability in serious personal injury cases.

Defeating a Limitation of Liability Petition

If you are crewmember, passenger, or other individual who has received a notice of a Petition of Limitation of Liability after being injured on a vessel, the Willis Law Firm can help. We are an experienced maritime injury law firm that can provide you the advice and skilled legal representation you need to defeat the Limitation of Liability Petition. Our legal team has a complete understanding of how the law works in these types of cases and we are fully prepared to take all steps necessary to successfully challenge the vessel owner’s claim. Many times these Limitations of Liability lawsuits / petitions are filed within a few days of the accident and often in a court or venue most favorable to the ship owner, therefore one needs to talk to an attorney soon to discuss your legal options as soon as possible.

In cases involving a limitation of liability petition it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. You will only have a limited period of time to file an answer to the petition with the court. If you fail to take proper legal action within the legal time limit, you may forfeit your right to collect full financial compensation for your injuries. Contact the Willis Law Firm today so that we can protect your legal rights. We can be reached by calling, 1-800-468-4878. Initial consultations are always free and strictly confidential.

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