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What is the error in extremis doctrine?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2022 | Admiralty & Maritime Defense

Modern technology continues to be a friend to ship captains around the globe. Indeed, many of today’s ships virtually drive themselves, with technology helping captains to make critical decisions both quickly and effectively. Still, according to Ship Technology, human error is to blame for as many as 96% of ship collisions.

If another ship collides with yours, you must act quickly to avoid further damage. You even may have to make rapid decisions to keep your vessel afloat. If you do something wrong, you might worry the other captain will at least partially blame you for your damages. That’s where the error in extremis doctrine comes in.

Protections for your actions

The immediate aftermath of a maritime collision can be a chaotic scene. Even though you are likely not to have all the information you need to make informed decisions, you must act promptly and decisively. This, of course, makes you vulnerable to mistakes.

The error in extremis doctrine says that if another ship puts your vessel in peril, you are not responsible for making the wrong decisions when trying to save your boat. Put simply, you are not liable for not having a perfect frame of mind or accurate judgment when your vessel is potentially sinking after colliding with another ship.

No blame shift

It can be beneficial for an at-fault ship captain to try to shift some of the blame to the other captain. Indeed, doing so may cause the to-blame captain to be less responsible for the accident and its associated damages.

If the error in extremis doctrine applies, though, there can be no blame shift. Ultimately, successfully using the error in extremis doctrine can allow you to receive full compensation for the at-fault captain.