Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

Statutes of limitations are pertinent to any personal injury lawsuit filed. Although these limits vary from state-to-state, the purpose is to avoid giving those injured an unlimited window in which to file a claim. In Florida, F.S. 95.11 allows for up to four years to file an injury lawsuit based on negligence (though only two years if it’s medical negligence). There are of course some caveats and exceptions, but usually, you’re not going to be able to successfully file anything beyond that four-year cutoff. cruiseshipdocked

Cruise ship injuries are different. Although these cruise ships are docked at Florida ports and that’s where most paying customers board, most of these companies are actually headquartered in other countries (usually the Bahamas). The applicable law that governs the statute of limitations would be Maritime Law, which usually gives injured persons three years to file a lawsuit. However, courts have said it’s perfectly legal for cruise ship companies to prohibit injury lawsuits against their companies after one year from the date of the incident. That is just one year for adults who are injured on cruise ships. Children may have up to three years, though if the child turns 18, he or she has to file the case within one year of turning 18.

The recent case of Chang v. Carnival Corp., recently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, dealt with the issue of cruise ship injury and this statute of limitations, as well as the issue of the proper forum in which to file these claims.  Continue reading

A federal appeals court gave limited reprieve to a boat rental company defending itself in a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a 2009 boating accident in which two couples died and one other couple survived with injuries. The question was whether the boat rental company owed a duty to warn its customers of potentially inclement weather that day and secondly whether it had a duty to warn about the weather exposure limitations of the vessel they rented. roughwater

In re: Aramark Sports, the company, in anticipation of being sued by the victims and their survivors, filed a petition in federal court under the Limitation of Liability Act, which allows boat owners in federal navigable waters to seek a ruling that either exonerates or limits their liability on the basis of the vessel’s capacity or value of the boat and freight. So if a claim demonstrates negligence, the burden then shifts to the owner to prove he or she had a lack of knowledge of unseaworthiness. If the owner meets this burden, damages are capped at the value of the vessel – after the collision (which, if it sinks, is zero). If the owner does not, the case can proceed with no limitations. Such cases would then proceed in a state court.

Estates of the two decedent couples responded with claims of wrongful death and negligence. The district court held a bench trial just on the issue of limitation – meaning the issues of gross negligence, damages and apportionment of fault would be heard later. The court ruled that negligence had at least in part caused the accident and that this negligence was within the knowledge of the boat owner, and therefore it would not exonerate the company from liability, nor would it grant its petition for limitation.  Continue reading