Houston Limitation of Liability Act Claim
Have You Been Injured on an Offshore Vessel? We Represent Injured Workers Nationwide.
Maritime law states that the owner of a vessel may be subject to liability for any losses or damages that happen during voyage. However, many ship owners attempt to avoid responsibility for accidents and deaths that occur on their vessel under the Limitation of Liability Act. This allows owners in certain cases to limit liability if the unseaworthy condition of the vessel causing the loss occurred without the knowledge or privity of the owner. The act covers personal injury losses such as deaths and collisions, as well as cargo losses like loss of property, goods, or merchandise.
Injured seamen soon realize the importance that this act plays in determining the amount and availability of compensation available because the liability is limited to the value of the vessel and its "freight then pending" after the time the loss occurred. This might mean that an offshore worker who has suffered injury or property loss will not be fully covered in their claims for damages. For this reason, the act has been increasingly criticized for being obsolete in the face of newer methods that make it easier to invest in maritime commerce without the fear of unlimited liability. Regardless, the act still plays a dominating role in determining the amount of compensation that an offshore worker can receive.
At Arnold & Itkin, our offshore injury attorneys can provide you with the necessary legal knowledge needed to file for an injury claim.
How the Act Will Affect Pending Litigation
A limitation action involves a stay of all other pending litigation and also a consolidation, or "concursus," of all claims into one proceeding. This is done to gather the assets and prioritize the claims in the case that the value of the vessel and its freight are not adequate to cover the claims for compensation. If the shipowner succeeds in limiting liability, the claimants will be limited to their pro rata shares, a proportion of compensation that has been calculated by several determining factors. This is concerning, especially for the families who are dependent on the worker's salary.
Why Does the Limitation of Liability Act Exist?
The Limitation of Liability Act was initially created to protect ship owners. The act was fashioned in a historical time period where the shipping and maritime industries were much more lethal than they are today. As the fatality rate of the maritime industry was high, legislatures feared that lawsuits would hamstring the American shipbuilding and shipping industries. Trade is a vital part of any nation, and lawmakers feared that intercontinental trade would become hampered if ship owners could be exorbitantly sued under the Jones Act.
To close the gap on the high risk of lawsuit that ship owners carried, the Limitation of Liability Act was created. A ship owner could be sued under the Jones Act, but in certain cases, the Limitation of Liability Act would be put in effect. Under the Limitation of Liability Act, the shipowner could pay off their Jones Act lawsuit with the value of their ship. This allowed ship owners to lose only their ship and nothing else.
This act was virtually a “nation before individual” law.
The American nation needed ships to function appropriately, but individuals deserved compensation if they or their loved one was injured on a ship. Individuals wanted to take shipowners for as much as they could under the Jones Act, which made ship owning a “high-risk” business endeavor. So the U.S. created this law to help shipowners be more at ease about owning their ship at the sacrifice of ship workers and families who needed money after a Jones Act incident. While a "necessary evil" back then, this law is arguably outdated in the markets and laws of today.
Reliable Legal Representation from Our Houston Maritime Attorneys
Our years of experience has given us an in-depth understanding of the Limitation of Liability Act and how it plays out in real life situations. As a result, we know how it will apply in your scenario and when a ship owner may attempt to limit their legal accountability after an offshore accident. We can help prove the owner of your vessel had full or partial knowledge of the unsafe working conditions that caused your accident. Without this proof, your chance for recovery shrinks and may be inadequate to cover your losses, especially if multiple claimants are involved.
Make the right decision for your future. Contact a professional maritime attorney today to start receiving the strong legal support you need to win the maximum amount of compensation in your offshore injury claim.