Salvage Claims

When men risk their lives and their own ship and equipment to rescue another ship in peril, they may have rights to claim compensation under Federal Maritime salvage law. Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC is one of the nation's leading maritime litigation firms. If you have a maritime salvage claim, our Seattle-based attorneys can help you get the money you deserve for saving the property of others.

How Salvage Law Works

Under maritime salvage law, vessel owners and their crews are entitled to share in the salvage awards in proportion to their efforts and risks. There are no set fee schedules for determining the amount of a salvage award. The amount of a salvage award is at the discretion of a Judge sitting in Admiralty. Admiralty Courts look to multiple factors in setting the amount of a salvage award, including the following factors:

  1. The labor expended by the salvors in rendering the salvage services;
  2. The promptitude, skill and energy displayed in rendering the salvage services;
  3. The value of the property employed by the salvors and the damage to which such property was exposed;
  4. The risk incurred by the salvors in securing the property from impending peril;
  5. The value of the property saved (including cargo);
  6. The degree of danger from which the property was rescued;
  7. Skill and efforts of salvors in preventing damage to the environment.

Salvors have a maritime lien against the rescued ship or property for their salvage services. The elements necessary to assert a valid salvage claim are as follows: (1) a maritime peril to the property that was rescued by the salvor; (2) the services rendered by the salvor must be voluntarily rendered; (3) success in saving the property or some portion of the property from impending danger of loss. The test for whether or not maritime property is subject to maritime peril does not require risk of imminent or absolute loss. A maritime peril exists where there is a reasonable apprehension that the ship or property is subject to potential danger or damage.

We Know The Risks

Alaska commercial fishing vessels battle extreme weather conditions on a routine basis. Each year several of these vessels are saved from risk of total loss as the result of efforts of other boats and ships in the fleet. In most cases, the vessel saving the vessel at risk of loss has a valid claim for salvage services. Salvage services are insured losses and, in most cases, insurance companies insuring the saved vessel must pay the vessel and crew of the vessel performing the salvage service. Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC has handle many vessel sinking and capsizing cases. It knows the risks and dangers associated with trying to save property and lives at sea.

Examples of valid maritime salvage claims include cases involving: towing disabled or foundered ships to port; freeing grounded or stranded ships and fishing vessels; lending equipment such as pumps to sinking ships or fire fighting equipment to a ship on fire; and recovering lost cargo and shipping containers at sea.

You Must Act Quickly

Federal law provides a two year statute of limitations to maritime salvage claims, 46 USC 730. This statute will apply to most situations involving maritime salvage claims. Contact Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC for a free initial consultation with a lawyer about your potential salvage claim.