Basics of Admiralty Limitation on Liability Actions

Unlike typical personal injury lawsuits, claims involving ships and vessels may be subject to special rules that can limit the damages an injured party is entitled to receive following a lawsuit. While most lawsuits seek recovery for the entirety of medical and property damages incurred by an injured individual, these admiralty actions, known as Limitation Actions, can reduce or even eliminate the amount of money available to be awarded.

The issue is the Limitation of Liability Act, which was signed into law in 1851. The Act’s intent was to provide protection to foreign ship-owners, encouraging them to ship cargo to America. In short, the Limitation Act limits the amount of recoverable damages to the total value of the subject vessel and cargo stored within it. If the vessel is filled with expensive cargo, the value could be quite high; if the ship has already been emptied, however, a claimant may be limited to the value of the vessel itself.

Another effect of the law is that such Limitation Actions are placed under federal control and issues related to the limitation on liability must be pursued in federal courts. This adds complexity and can add additional expenses to what would otherwise be a typical lawsuit for injuries.

It takes the skill of a competent maritime attorney to navigate the maritime and admiralty procedures and insist their client receive the proper amount of damages in a maritime case. If you were seriously injured while working offshore as a seamen, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling maritime cases. The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is the oldest personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim. Call us today at (713) 222-7211 or 713-222-7211 for your free consultation.