South Carolina Boat Defect Attorneys
Claims arising out of defective vessels or equipment generally fall into three categories: 1) products liability claims for injury to persons or property arising out of a dangerous or defective vessel or piece of the vessel’s equipment; 2) contractual and implied-in-law warranty claims against the manufacturer and seller of a vessel or equipment which is defective; or 3) claims against an insurer for insurance proceeds under a Time Hull Marine Insurance Policy.
Although, technically speaking, contracts for the sale of vessels are not within the admiralty jurisdiction, the doctrines of warranty and strict products liability arising from defective boats and equipment are recognized in admiralty and maritime law, and there are state statutory and common law remedies for those injured or who have suffered damage to property from defective boats or equipment.
Pleasure boats are covered by the Magnuson-Moss Act and commercial vessels often come with a manufacturer’s written warranty. Of course, within limits of the applicable law, warranties may be limited or disclaimed.
Legal recovery for those damaged or injured by defective boats and equipment may be provided by theories of negligence, strict liability, or warranty, depending upon whether there is property damage, personal injury, or both.
Defectively designed or manufactured boats or equipment may constitute a breach of express or implied warranty. If the defect causes harm to other property, or if the defect causes personal injury or death, courts may award damages based upon the negligence of the manufacturer or distributor or based upon strict liability in tort.
Traditionally, marine insurance hull policy forms contained “Inchmaree” coverage for losses resulting from latent defects in hull and machinery, including manufacturing and design defects. These traditional coverage clauses are being replaced in many policies today, sometimes resulting in vessel owners having less hull coverage than they initially thought and in disputes with the carriers over claims.
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Claims
Generally speaking, the law considers pleasure boats, even luxury yachts, to be consumer goods. As a result, the owners or “consumers” of pleasure boats are offered protection under the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act. This law was enacted by Congress to make warranties on consumer products understandable, to protect consumers from warranties that are deceptive, and to make warranties enforceable by law. If a vessel comes with a warranty, that warranty must comply with the Magnusson-Moss Act. Our law firm offers the knowledge and experience to skillfully assert the rights of pleasure boat owners under this Act.
If you need advice on your rights and remedies for a defect in your boat’s hull or machinery, call on the experienced Boat Defect Attorneys at Cooper and Bilbrey, P.C. Telephone 843-883-9099 to schedule a free, confidential initial consultation.