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Limitation of Liability and Why It Is Important


We Represent People Injured in Boat Crashes and JetSki Collisions in Florida.

Many visitors come to Florida, are hurt on a vessel, and then return to their out-of-State home. Here is something significant to note about such cases.

Insurance companies frequently resort to a Limitation of Liability action against injured persons. This is a law from 1851 passed by Congress to help the U.S.commercial maritime fleet compete with the sailing powers of England, France, Spain, Portugal, etc. The law held that if a casualty occurred involving an owner’s vessel—and the owner was not negligent, nor in privity with the at-fault operator of the vessel—then the owner’s liability would be “limited” to no more than the worth of the vessel–after the casualty.

Unfortunately, when Congress passed that law in 1851 they never said it only applied to commercial vessels. When the U. S Supreme Court looked at the issue they concluded the statute applied to recreational vessels as well. Why is this important to a client injured on a boat or JetSki?

This can have enormous consequences to your client. Suppose a Jet Ski owner rents one of his high-powered Jet Skis to a 12-year-old child. The child crashes the Jet Ski and is severely injured. The owner of the Jet Ski can try to limit his liability to the worth of the Jet Ski–in its crashed condition–regardless of the extent of the injuries or death of the child. That same scenario can also be applied to a parasail operator where “fliers” (i.e., customers) are injured. The scenario can also be applied to a vessel owner who causes injury with his vessel. This becomes a very serious matter against your client if the medical bills and/or injuries are very large, but the value of the crashed vessel is worth very little.

Great caution must be taken from the outset in the handling of these types of cases. If a vessel owner wins “exoneration” neither the insurer nor the owner will pay anything. If the vessel owner obtains a ruling for “limitation”, the recovery will be limited to that of the worth of the damaged vessel. Also, should “limitation” be

granted by the federal judge all claimants must make any recovery from the single fund, and again, the fund represents the post-casualty value of the vessel. And, it does not matter that the available insurance far exceeds the value of the damaged vessel. In most cases it is the insurer who brings the limitation action in an effort to pay out only a very small recovery in very severe injury and death cases—even when the amount of available insurance may be quite large.

If the boating crash or Jetski case is not handled correctly, the owner can potentially obtain complete exoneration or limitation down to a very small amount. We have been handling boating, JetSki, and parasail injury cases in Florida more than 25 years. You can have assurance in our experience. For injury cases which must be litigated anywhere in the State of Florida we provide representation and are available for referral of: boat collisions, Jet Ski crashes, cruise ship injuries, etc. We strictly honor and gladly pay referral fees. You will find further abundant information on our website at

You are welcome to call me personally to discuss your case here in Florida.

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