In the recent BP Transocean rig explosion, a lot of people understood and heard that Transocean filed for what’s called limitation of liability. And what Transocean did was they went over to a courthouse and they filed a pleading under what’s called the Limitation of Liability Act. This act allows a vessel owner to run to the courthouse and try to limit its liability to the monetary value of that vessel that the employee was working on at the time of his injury.
In the Transocean rig explosion case, Transocean would have been happy to limit its liability to just the value of the deep water horizon, due to the catastrophic nature and high, high damage amount that was caused by the rig explosion. In a regular maritime injury case if an employee is working on a barge or a single vessel, a lot of times the vessel owner or the barge owner will run to court and try to limit its liability to just the value of the boat or the vessel or the barge that the employee was working on. What you should understand about the Limitation of Liability Act is that it’s very, very, very rarely successful. Over the years, limitation of liability pleadings and proceedings have regularly been denied by the courts. There are very many exceptions, there’re very many restrictions on when the vessel owner can really take advantage of this act. It’s usually not a situation that should worry you too much, it just depends on the nature of how your injury occurred as to whether or not the vessel owner may be successful with the limitation of liability filing.
Call us if you have any questions at all about the Limitation of Liability Act, how it may apply to you injury, or your rights, choices, or options under maritime law of the Jones Act.