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Worse Things Do Happen At Sea

I was sitting last night in the comfort of my armchair, watching a programme on commercial fishing off the coast of the UK.  What immediately came across as the waves crashed down on what by comparison seemed tiny fishing vessels, was the danger that the fisherman face every single day when they are away from port.  

The chances of a cable as thick as a man’s wrist snapping, twisting through the air and amputating someone’s limb is very real indeed.  

There is no doubt that this is one of the most dangerous of occupations.  Equally so are numerous occupations that involve work on vessels from small fishing vessel to a large oil tankers.

The law and regulations that commonly apply to ensure the health and safety of employees is maintained specifically exclude accidents that occur at sea.  It should not be forgotten however, that there are instead numerous Merchant Shipping Regulations and codes that do apply and can be used with equal force to maintain health and safety standards and to establish liability.  

Of note is the limitation period.  Whereas the usual limitation period is a period of 3 years which means that legal proceedings must be issued at Court within 3 years from the accident date, in a claim involving a ship however, the limitation period is governed by the Athens Convention and is instead a period of 2 years.

Legal proceedings must therefore be issued within 2 years of the accident date when the accident has occurred whilst on board a vessel.

What about oil rigs and off shore installations you may ask? Well, the health and safety regulations that apply whilst on dry land do apply to accidents which occur on off-shore installation, as do rules in relation to common law negligence and requirements under the Occupiers Liability Act. Equally, the limitation period for an accident that occurs on an oil rig is a period of 3 years .  

I will deal in a later blog with holiday accidents abroad cruise ships which have different aspects for consideration, given that cruise ships can be travelling in various parts of the world and different laws can sometimes apply.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.