Limitation of Liability Act

Attorneys representing Norfolk, Newport News, Roanoke & nearby areas of Virginia

The Limitation of Liability Act is a potential trap for injured maritime claimants. Vessel owners have a way to limit their liability (the amount of money they can be required to pay out for all claims) in maritime cases.


The Limitation of Liability Act can be traced back to an English statute enacted in 1734 before corporate ownership and insurance were available to protect shipowners. It was intended to encourage investment in the shipping industry.

Although the reasons for having this law no longer exist, the Limitation of Liability Act remains. It allows a ship owner to file a lawsuit to limit the vessel owner’s liability to the value of the ship plus pending freight at the end of the voyage. If a vessel has sunk or has little value after a catastrophic accident, this means the vessel owner’s responsibility can be limited to little or nothing. The owners of the TITANIC filed for limitation of liability after its sinking.

Act Quickly to File Your Claim

Limitation of liability actions can be difficult and procedurally challenging, with short time periods to file a claim. Jones Act cases brought in state court can be removed to federal court if the owner timely files a limitation of liability action in response to the Jones Act claim.

The lawyers at Kalfus & Nachman are among the few who have fought a limitation of liability action at trial.  If the ship owner has petitioned the court to limit its liability, you must act quickly. The Limitation of Liability Act normally imposes a very quick deadline to file both a response to the vessel owner’s lawsuit and a claim for your damages.

The maritime injury lawyers at Kalfus & Nachman have successfully defeated Limitation of Liability lawsuits by filing the appropriate pleadings and stipulations to allow our clients to proceed with their personal injury lawsuits. In these cases, we have secured compensation for injured clients even when the vessel was at the bottom of the ocean. To get help from our Newport News maritime attorneys, please call us at (800) 361-0430.