Chapter 305 of the Jones Act contains statutory provisions that provide for the exoneration and limitation of liability of vessel owners and masters for personal property that is lost in the course of shipping. Our Lafayette Jones Act lawyers can help explain each of its provisions to you.
Under this chapter, a shipper of an item must understand the "true character and value of the item" in order to be held liable as a carrier for the value of the item lost or destroyed. This chapter also limits a vessel owner's or master's liability for property lost in a fire on board the vessel. To be held liable for the loss of property in a fire, the fire must have been caused by the owner's or master's "design or neglect."
Chapter 305 also limits the liability of a vessel owner or master for claims of personal injury or death. This chapter applies only to "seagoing vessels," and "does not apply to pleasure yachts, tugs, towboats, towing vessels, tank vessels, fishing vessels, fish tender vessels, canal boats, scows, car floats, barges, lighters, or nondescript vessels." This chapter creates a minimum liability for vessel owners "if the portion to pay claims for personal injury or death is less than $420 times the tonnage of the vessel." In this case, the portion to pay the claims for personal injury or death is automatically increased to $420 times the tonnage of the vessel. However, this portion can only be used to pay claims for personal injury or death. The Jones Act attorneys at our Lafayette firm can help you assert your rights under this law.
Lastly, Chapter 305 also contains provisions that create minimum time limits that a vessel owner or master must allow for passengers and owners of property to bring a civil action. Before the enactment of this provision, ship owners purported to limit their liability by contract in passenger tickets and shipping contracts. In particular, under Chapter 305, vessel owners, masters, managers or agents "of a vessel transporting passengers or property" between United States ports or between a United States port and a port of foreign country cannot limit the amount of time a passenger or property owner has to file a civil action under the Jones Act. Accordingly, a vessel owner or master must permit a six-month window from the time of the personal injury or death for the injured or their survivors to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim. This period begins to run after the date of the injury or death, and our Lafayette Jones Act attorneys can help you determine when the appropriate date in your case may be.
Chapter 305 contains several complicated provisions. If you suffered an injury as a passenger on a ship or if you had property destroyed on a ship, you may have legal rights under the Jones Act. A skilled Jones Act lawyer in the Lafayette area can help make sure you maximize your recovery under maritime law.