Maritime Products Liability is a maritime tort which has the potential to affect all manners of maritime claims for personal injury, including but not limited to, the Jones Act, LHWCA, passenger injuries, and even persons in the water. As with many land based product liability actions, maritime products liability is not very different but revolves around various marine specific equipment failure and ship designs or ships construction that may not be known to persons who are not familiar with the maritime industry.
General maritime law recognizes causes of action for personal injuries stemming from maritime products liability. That is to say, maritime equipment failures, ship designs, and ship construct defects all are considered maritime product liability and within the jurisdiction of the federal courts if the tort occurs on navigable waters. Maritime product liability and the maritime jurisdiction of the federal courts are often confusing since, after all, for a claim to be within the maritime jurisdiction of the federal courts, it must have occurred on navigable waters.
Similar to land based product liability claims, marine manufacturers may be held liable for injuries which occur in the maritime realm due to its defective product. However, there may be causes of action against the ship owners – who unbeknownst to them – are similarly situated as the injured person without realizing that the product posed a significant risk of causing injury. Generally, claimants attempt to show that shipowners failed to inspect or maintain some piece of equipment and that failure was the cause of their injuries.
In many cases, shipowners are sued by claimants for injuries sustained due to a defective product – because generally they do not really know who else to sue. That’s why it’s important to hire competent representation who is knowledgeable of maritime products liability and can implead a third-party manufacturer due to claimant’s injuries from its defective products. At HBN we are well versed in maritime product liability suits and have successfully defended shipowners on numerous occasions.
Celebrity Cruises v. Essef, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46721, 2006 AMC 528 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (LEGIONAIRES DISEASE)