Collision law regulates the navigation of vessels and imposes liability for negligent navigation which causes injury or damage. Collision law is perhaps most analogous to land-based automobile accident law; some of the same general principles apply, and there is much statutory regulation. Collision law also may provide the rules by which all of the damages arising out of a collision—including those of crew, passengers and cargo—are apportioned among the vessels involved.
Maritime law imposes a duty upon the vessel and its operator to protect the vessel’s seamen and passengers from harm. Often, crew and passengers injured in a collision of two or more vessels are likely to find it simpler to proceed first against the vessel on which they were serving or being carried. That vessel, if at fault, may be a joint tortfeasor with the other vessels and will be liable to its passengers and crew for the full amount of their damages.
The basis of liability in collision cases is fault; there is no recovery unless there has been negligence in the navigation or operation of the vessel.
A court may reject a plaintiff’s claim in a collision case by finding that the accident was “inevitable” or was caused by an Act of God. It also may deny the claim by applying the doctrine of “inscrutable fault”—there is fault, but under the circumstances it cannot be identified. Each of these rules, however, seems to be simply another way of saying that the plaintiff has failed to prove that the defendant was negligent.
Attorney Jahani comes from a deep seagoing background, and with the related Ocean going expereice he will help you to claim your damages