The recent sinking of a duck boat on a popular Missouri lake and the tragic loss of its passengers has brought heightened awareness to the issue of boating safety. When clients come to see us here at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP following boating accidents, most claim to have assumed that the responsibility of ensuring boat passenger safety was that of a vessel's captain. It typically is, yet as was detailed in a previous blog post, the Limitation of Liability Act limits the amount of liability that can be assigned to vessel owners in such accidents. Yet what happens if negligence is proven on the part of a boat owner in an accident you were involved.
The tragic loss of the Duck Boat with 17 persons, including children, will trigger investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard. Civil litigation will follow, likely including a pro-active filing of the owner of the Duck Boat under the controversial Limitation of Liability Act (LOLA) 46 U.S.C. § 30506. This statute allows a vessel owner to petition a federal court to limit its liability to the post-accident value of the vessel. In this case the value of the Duck boat is zero. In such cases, the LOLA triggers a statutory floor increasing the amount of recovery to $420.00 per ton. To put this in perspective, the sinking of the 30,000-ton container ship EL FARO during Hurricane Joaquin resulted in a fund amount to about 13 million dollars. Since the tonnage of duck boats is relatively small, perhaps no more than 10 tons, the value of the limitation fund would be about $4,200.00 - a ridiculously insignificant amount to be shared by all the claimants.
While professionalism is crucial in the maritime industry, it’s a sad fact that fights can sometimes occur. If an injury occurs as a result of a fight, who is responsible for a seaman’s lost wages or medical bills? Pacific Maritime Magazine provides insight on who can be held liable when fights happen aboard a seafaring vessel.
There are many laws that dictate what can and cannot be done on U.S. waterways, including in New York. Some of them are looked upon favorably while others may be seen as hindering trade and business. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 or the Jones Act is one such law that some people see as being good and others see as being an issue. Issues were really brought to light after the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico.
Many of the maritime workers in Manhattan who have been injured while on the job find that while the maintenance and cure payments they are entitled to receive are helpful, they are often not enough to cover both their injury-related expenses as well as the cost of daily living. Thus, they may be put in a position of needing to seek more compensation. Some employers might offer an advance on a seaman's wages on top of maintenance and cure payments. While this might seem advantageous, one should consider the implications of accepting such assistance.
For longshoremen in Manhattan, the process of loading and unloading ships can be a tough and grueling experience. This is especially true when faced with faulty or otherwise compromised equipment, such as ladders used to gain access to hard-to-reach areas of a boat. If you’re injured using a ladder, you may have questions regarding liability and whether the owner of the vessel is ultimately responsible to provide compensation. In this case, Pacific Maritime Magazine offers insight into this common issue.