The Limitation of Liability Act
The “Limitation of Liability Act” was enacted in 1851 and originated as a general maritime law of the United States. The Act, in its current version, allows a shipowner to limit the amount of damages that it would otherwise have to pay as compensation to anyone who is injured onboard the vessel to the vessel’s value at the time the injury occurs.
In other words, the Limitation of Liability Act allows shipowners to limit liability (i.e., the damages that it would otherwise have to pay to the injured worker) when the damages or injuries exceed the value of the vessel.
It’s critical that workers who are injured offshore file suit as quickly as possible after a serious offshore injury to avoid having their damages limited to the vessel’s value.
Protection Under the Limitation of Liability Act
The Act protects the ship owner from casualty claims that include cargo damage, personal injury, death, or collision claims. It was enacted to protect the American shipping industry and ship owners, as well as to promote the industry, at a time when insurance wasn’t as prevalent and available to shipowners as it is today.
In order to limit its damages, the vessel owner must file a Limitation of Liability Petition in Federal Court within 6 months of when it learns of the injuries or damages (which is typically within 6 months of when the accident occurred).
Timing is Critical Following an Offshore Accident
Unless the injured worker files suit BEFORE the vessel owner files its Limitation Action, the vessel owner will be able to (1) chose the venue (i.e., city and state) where the lawsuit is decided, and (2) potentially prevent the injured worker from having his case decided by a jury.
This is why it’s so critical that, following an offshore accident, you immediately contact an Experienced Maritime Lawyer who can take steps to protect your rights and prevent your recovery from being substantially limited in value.
Our Maritime Lawyers have Successfully Defeated Hundreds of Limitation of Liability Actions on Behalf of Seaman Across the Gulf Coast
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Having recovered over $1 Billion in damages on behalf of offshore workers and their families, our Maritime Lawyers have the experience, resources and ability to take on the largest maritime and oil & gas companies in the world – and win.
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