1. Marine Casualty
1.1 In the event of a collision, grounding or other major casualty, what are the key provisions that will impact upon the liability and response of interested parties? In particular, the relevant law/conventions in force in relation to:
The conventions pertinent to collisions that the U.S. is a signatory to are the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, also known as SOLAS, and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, also known as COLREGS. In addition, the navigation of vessels is governed by many regulations and statutes addressing a wide range of topics, including the Inland Navigation Rules which govern all inland waters, including the Great Lakes, aids to navigation, anchorages, ports, bridges, cargo, and vessel requirements. Liability for a collision is established by proof of fault that caused the collision in whole or in part. The standards of care that mariners are held to are: (1) general concepts of prudent seamanship and reasonable care; (2) statutes and regulations germane to navigation and management of vessels; and (3) governing customs and usages. The most common cause of collisions is the failure to adhere to a statute or regulation, and fault is most often established through proof of violation of one or more of the COLREGS. The Pennsylvania Rule, which is a presumption of causation, is closely tied to fault. This rule provides that when a vessel involved in a collision, allision or grounding is shown to have violated a statute or regulation aimed at preventing the harm that occurred, that vessel is presumed to have caused the harm, at least in part, unless it can prove that the violation could not have been the cause of the accident. While this bar is high, it is not insurmountable.