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How is fault determined in a maritime collision?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2024 | Admiralty & Maritime Defense

Determining fault in a maritime collision involves several steps and can be complex, and various factors play a crucial role. For anyone working in the maritime industry, it is important to understand how the authorities determine fault in the event of an accident. 

Investigating the collision

The first step in determining fault is a thorough investigation. Authorities examine the collision scene, collect evidence, and interview witnesses. This investigation helps establish the circumstances leading to the collision.

Applying navigation rules

Maritime navigation rules, also known as the “Rules of the Road,” are crucial in determining fault. These rules dictate how vessels should operate to avoid collisions. Authorities can hold a vessel accountable for the collision if it violates these rules.

Assessing operator actions

The actions of the vessel operators before, during, and after the collision are closely scrutinized. Authorities look at whether the operators followed proper procedures, such as maintaining a proper lookout, safe speed, and avoiding risky maneuvers.

Examining vessel conditions

Examining the condition of the vessels involved can also determine fault. If a vessel has mechanical issues or safety violations, it may contribute to the collision. Ensuring vessels are seaworthy and well-maintained is a critical responsibility of the vessel owners.

Reviewing communication records

Communication between vessels and maritime authorities can provide insight into the collision. Authorities review logs and recordings to understand and verify the given and followed instructions or warnings.

Understanding fault in maritime collisions

Determining fault in a maritime collision requires a comprehensive analysis of multiple factors. By understanding what factors come into play, you can better grasp the complexities of maritime collisions.