ReachorDie

Maritime Lawyers in New England

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So I usually lurk in the background, never posting but taking it all in. I am now in need of this communities help, assistance, advice.

1 year and 8 months ago my beautifully restored Andrews 26 was struck by a tanker while on my mooring. The tanker that was being piloted by the tugs broke free and struck my boat and totaled it. i finally got the USCG report back and it was deemed the fault of the pilot.

I am way out of my comfort zone with this issue and could really use the guidance of this community. 

Does anyone out there know of any maritime lawyers that practice in New Hampshire? Has anyone ever experienced this?

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Contact the NH bar association. They might be of assistance. 

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9 minutes ago, RumLine said:

Try AJ Evans, he isnt' admitted in NH, but he's heavily involved in Storm Trysail and might be able to point you in the right direction.

http://www.bvgklaw.com/attorneys/alton-j-evans-jr/

 

4 minutes ago, Sail4beer said:

Contact the NH bar association. They might be of assistance. 

Thank you! My current lawyer thinks he will be useless with this issue.

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I've been away from New England a long time, but looking in the Maritime Law Association desk book, it lists many Boston attorneys, but none in New Hampshire.   Not to say there aren't some in, say, Portsmouth, but what you have is an admiralty jurisdiction matter, so it'd be in federal court anyway.  And most Boston lawyers would be admitted to practice in all the federal courts in the nearby coastal states, including the District of New Hampshire.

This is just a google list, but most any of them could handle an "allision" matter.  Was more than one boat run into?  If so you might want to find out what lawyer is representing them, it's generally preferable to sign on with an attorney who's already "up to speed" on the situation and the parties involved.

https://www.justia.com/lawyers/admiralty-maritime/massachusetts/boston

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Again, thank you for all of your help.

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Why are you doing this? Your insurance company should be doing this on their dime. Also note - if your boat was ANCHORED, how the hell could it NOT be the tanker's fault?

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4 minutes ago, nolatom said:

I've been away from New England a long time, but looking in the Maritime Law Association desk book, it lists many Boston attorneys, but none in New Hampshire.   Not to say there aren't some in, say, Portsmouth, but what you have is an admiralty jurisdiction matter, so it'd be in federal court anyway.  And most Boston lawyers would be admitted to practice in all the federal courts in the nearby coastal states, including the District of New Hampshire.

This is just a google list, but most any of them could handle an "allision" matter.  Was more than one boat run into?  If so you might want to find out what lawyer is representing them, it's generally preferable to sign on with an attorney who's already "up to speed" on the situation and the parties involved.

https://www.justia.com/lawyers/admiralty-maritime/massachusetts/boston

There was another boat that was involved but they passed away this year.

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Just now, kent_island_sailor said:

Why are you doing this? Your insurance company should be doing this on their dime. Also note - if your boat was ANCHORED, how the hell could it NOT be the tanker's fault?

I am doing this because I insured my boat just to put it on a new mooring so I didn't insure it for the total value of the boat, yes I know I screwed myself so I am honestly probably doing all of this for no reason, but then again part of me thinks that my insurance doesn't even matter, this should never of happened and I was on my mooring in a mooring field. 

What it boils down to is the Pilot thought he could make it out after missing the slack tide by over two hours but he couldn't, the Captain of the tanker must have been under the impression they could also make it out so they did have the Pilot step down.

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have you been in touch with the tug's insurance company?

This does not sound like it's a huge loss - several ten's of thousands of $?

I would be surprised if they don't make you a reasonable offer right away - this is not worth the time for them to contest.

And.., you really don't want to have to pay a lawyer.

 

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5 minutes ago, us7070 said:

have you been in touch with the tug's insurance company?

This does not sound like it's a huge loss - several ten's of thousands of $?

I would be surprised if they don't make you a reasonable offer right away - this is not worth the time for them to contest.

And.., you really don't want to have to pay a lawyer.

 

Spoke to the tugs today and they don't want to have anything to do with it since they are just contractors that use a companies equipment.

 

Again, thank you to everyone. 

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18 minutes ago, ReachorDie said:

I am doing this because I insured my boat just to put it on a new mooring so I didn't insure it for the total value of the boat, yes I know I screwed myself so I am honestly probably doing all of this for no reason, but then again part of me thinks that my insurance doesn't even matter, this should never of happened and I was on my mooring in a mooring field. 

What it boils down to is the Pilot thought he could make it out after missing the slack tide by over two hours but he couldn't, the Captain of the tanker must have been under the impression they could also make it out so they did have the Pilot step down.

So you had X$ of repairs and X minus Y dollars of insurance. I still don't get this. Your insurance company should have called the tanker's (or pilots?) insurance company and sent them the ENTIRE bill. Also who was steering? Was the pilot already gone?
Anyway, this could get really expensive. I would think about hiring a lawyer for something like a one hour consulting session and maybe send a bill to the insurance companies involved with their letterhead.

Just for my edification, can you explain "piloted by tugs"? Around here the pilot is on the ship. Tugs may show up to help get the ship in or out of her slip, but the pilot is not aboard any of them. Was the pilot on the tug towing the tanker and the towline broke? I can see the tug owner deciding he was just renting a boat and the pilot hosed it all up. The pilot could say the tug came with a shitty tow line. Arghhhh :(

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7 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

So you had X$ of repairs and X minus Y dollars of insurance. I still don't get this. Your insurance company should have called the tanker's (or pilots?) insurance company and sent them the ENTIRE bill. Also who was steering? Was the pilot already gone?
Anyway, this could get really expensive. I would think about hiring a lawyer for something like a one hour consulting session and maybe send a bill to the insurance companies involved with their letterhead.

Again, I got myself into this situation by really under valuing my boat, my insurance company said they thought it would be better if I waited to play this out since the cost to repair my boat was more than what I had it valued at.

I would take my insurance payment but that would cover the cost of the fiberglass work and paint but wouldn't cover the cost of a new rig and rigging.

I have learned a very valuable lesson...stick to a dinghy or to other peoples boats

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This is the incident?

You might find the time and money spent to consult with an attorney is useful, at least to know where you stand.  It can get tricky making a claim when a (now long-since sailed) ship, local pilot, and your insurance company are involved.

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11 minutes ago, nolatom said:

This is the incident?

You might find the time and money spent to consult with an attorney is useful, at least to know where you stand.  It can get tricky making a claim when a (now long-since sailed) ship, local pilot, and your insurance company are involved.

That is the one. Not to mention the Pilot just passed away a few days ago.

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25 minutes ago, ReachorDie said:

Spoke to the tugs today and they don't want to have anything to do with it since they are just contractors that use a companies equipment.

No real surprise there. First instinct is always to deny liability. While a quick settlement may be less expensive than lengthy litigation, simply 'passing the buck' is cheaper still.

I'm not suggesting that the tugs are in fact liable (perhaps yes, perhaps no ... I don't know all the facts). I'm just saying that it was unlikely that a telephone call was likely to yield meaningful results.

18 minutes ago, ReachorDie said:

I have learned a very valuable lesson...stick to a dinghy or to other peoples boats

Yes indeed. While yacht ownership provides intangible benefits, from a strictly economic perspective it's impossible to justify.

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1 hour ago, nolatom said:

Was more than one boat run into?  If so you might want to find out what lawyer is representing them, it's generally preferable to sign on with an attorney who's already "up to speed" on the situation and the parties involved.

https://www.justia.com/lawyers/admiralty-maritime/massachusetts/boston

Good idea but the other boats were likely adequately insured and represented by in house counsel.

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Spoke to the tugs today and they don't want to have anything to do with it since they are just contractors that use a companies equipment

That is an odd way of putting it. Generally tugs are contracted by the ship to move the ship. They are sometimes owned by a port facility, usually by a separate tug company, and sometimes by a shipping company if they have enough ships calling at the same port.

Googled them. OK - Portsmouth seems to have an exclusive with Moran, a big tug company with lots of tugs around the US Coast. They have deep pockets. 

http://www.morantug.com/site/upload/tpl7/Portsmouth Schedule of Rates Terms and Conditions October 1, 2016_.pdf

For them to say "we have nothing to do with this" is not exactly true. If a lawsuit starts they will be named, as will the estate of the Pilot and the shipping company. A court may find that the tugs were negligent (but not likely unless they did something wrong). Generally they act as the Pilot directs. i.e. "Push 1/2 throttle now". If they didn't act when the Pilot ordered, then you might have a case. There is also a note that tugboat's line snapped. If it contributed to the accident, then you might have a case against the tugs. (Tug lines should not just break - they should be retired before they are too weak; they usually have a breaking strength of 2x the tug's pulling power)

It would be very helpful to read the USCG report to offer more opinions.

Ultimately the ship's captain is usually responsible for the ship's actions. The Pilot advises, but command resides with the ship's captain. It is perhaps possible to get a judgement in a US court and get the ship arrested elsewhere. If the ship makes regular calls to the US, it is much easier. The ship is presently in Antwerp. 

https://www.vesselfinder.com/?imo=9324215

Good pilot law reference here: http://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/52970/pilotage-law    Scroll down to United States

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer but do have some familiarity with ship movements

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58 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Just for my edification, can you explain "piloted by tugs"? Around here the pilot is on the ship. Tugs may show up to help get the ship in or out of her slip, but the pilot is not aboard any of them. Was the pilot on the tug towing the tanker and the towline broke? I can see the tug owner deciding he was just renting a boat and the pilot hosed it all up. The pilot could say the tug came with a shitty tow line. Arghhhh :(

I don't get that part either.

I would guess that the ship owner would blame the pilot and suggest that pilot's insurance cover it while the pilot would say that the ship owner is supposed to carry liability insurance as well as indemnify the pilot while the tug owner/operator says we can’t be held liable for decisions we didn’t make.

Lots of finger pointing no doubt which is probably why the OP wants to hire a lawyer. Put everybody in a big room and let them hash it out with a mediator.

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I want to know who the insurance company is, since I would really want to avoid them. On DAY ONE they should have had their lawyers firing off nasty lawyer-letters to all involved asking for money.

 

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1 hour ago, ReachorDie said:

 

Again, I got myself into this situation by really under valuing my boat, my insurance company said they thought it would be better if I waited to play this out since the cost to repair my boat was more than what I had it valued at.

I would take my insurance payment but that would cover the cost of the fiberglass work and paint but wouldn't cover the cost of a new rig and rigging.

I have learned a very valuable lesson...stick to a dinghy or to other peoples boats

 

Of course, the agreed value of Reach's policy is the limit of any claims for losses due to equipment failure, storms etc, or damages he might cause, but why would it limit his claim against a separate at-fault party?

 

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34 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

I want to know who the insurance company is, since I would really want to avoid them. On DAY ONE they should have had their lawyers firing off nasty lawyer-letters to all involved asking for money.

 

It was progressive. They have done a lot with a friends Olson but they didn't know how to handle this mess at all.

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1 hour ago, lasal said:

 

Of course, the agreed value of Reach's policy is the limit of any claims for losses due to equipment failure, storms etc, or damages he might cause, but why would it limit his claim against a separate at-fault party?

 

It would not. His insurance company should have been on this from day one with the other companies!

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5 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

It would not. His insurance company should have been on this from day one with the other companies!

It sounds like they offered to pay out the value of his policy, but making a claim on his further loss was up to him. His company is not going to pay out beyond the policy regardless. It doesn't sound like they were able to offer any advice on pursuing a claim against a third party, but perhaps they can't legally do that?

It's a pain to track down the liable party, but at least there is a video. Doesn't seem too complicated, but maybe complicated enough to hire a lawyer. I'm surprised the lawyer he talked to punted like that. Admiralty law is a squishy area I guess.

Good luck, Reach.

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Maybe because his insurance co. would be making the claim on his behalf the limit of the insurance co's claim would be the limit of the damages to themselves which would be the limit of the policy and the OP would have to have his own counsel pursue the difference anyway ?

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1 hour ago, nolatom said:

I don't know them so can't comment, but note that he has several law partners still active, you might try one of them.

http://www.sealaw.org/david-j-farrell.html

Thank you for this contact, I am currently talking to one of the partners who seems to be very knowledgeable.

30 minutes ago, lasal said:

It sounds like they offered to pay out the value of his policy, but making a claim on his further loss was up to him. His company is not going to pay out beyond the policy regardless. It doesn't sound like they were able to offer any advice on pursuing a claim against a third party, but perhaps they can't legally do that?

It's a pain to track down the liable party, but at least there is a video. Doesn't seem too complicated, but maybe complicated enough to hire a lawyer. I'm surprised the lawyer he talked to punted like that. Admiralty law is a squishy area I guess.

Good luck, Reach.

Correct, my insurance did offer to pay out the value of my policy but they didn't think that was the best option and thought it would be best if I submitted my claims directly to the liable party. They aren't lawyers so they couldn't really offer any advise.

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2 minutes ago, TonyFromSheepsheadBay said:

I think the lesson here is don't be under insured. 

Keel boat ownership 101.

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3 hours ago, ReachorDie said:

Correct, my insurance did offer to pay out the value of my policy but they didn't think that was the best option and thought it would be best if I submitted my claims directly to the liable party. They aren't lawyers so they couldn't really offer any advise.

No kidding! Not the best option for them.

I don't understand why you can't do both: collect the partial coverage under the policy, and sue the third parties for the uninsured portion of the loss (plus additional damages for loss of use).

You really should seek competent legal advice, without further delay (you've been sitting on this for 20 months?).

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4 hours ago, Svanen said:

No kidding! Not the best option for them.

I don't understand why you can't do both: collect the partial coverage under the policy, and sue the third parties for the uninsured portion of the loss (plus additional damages for loss of use).

You really should seek competent legal advice, without further delay (you've been sitting on this for 20 months?).

Of course you can do that, but a less lame insurance company would have done it for you or at least pointed you in the right direction.

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Agreed!

Sounds to me like their main priority was to craftily talk the OP out of enforcing his policy entitlements (limited although those reportedly were). I hope the OP will ‘name and shame’ the insurer in this thread.

I don’t believe in aggressively pursuing your purported rights at every opportunity, or threatening to sue people for small losses or when things may not be their responsibility ... life is too short to waste time with such nonsense. At the same time, sometimes you have to be a little assertive so that you aren’t treated like a sucker. It sounds like the OP really needs to ‘lawyer up’ and stop being Mr. Nice Guy.

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On 2/7/2018 at 11:47 PM, Svanen said:

Agreed!

Sounds to me like their main priority was to craftily talk the OP out of enforcing his policy entitlements (limited although those reportedly were). I hope the OP will ‘name and shame’ the insurer in this thread.

I don’t believe in aggressively pursuing your purported rights at every opportunity, or threatening to sue people for small losses or when things may not be their responsibility ... life is too short to waste time with such nonsense. At the same time, sometimes you have to be a little assertive so that you aren’t treated like a sucker. It sounds like the OP really needs to ‘lawyer up’ and stop being Mr. Nice Guy.

I was using Progressive Insurance. Sorry, thought I had already posted that. 

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