AP

US maritime liability rules changed after 2019 boat fire

Dec 23, 2022, 12:58 PM | Updated: 1:21 pm

FILE - This July 12, 2020, photo shows a standing memorial to the people who died aboard the Concep...

FILE - This July 12, 2020, photo shows a standing memorial to the people who died aboard the Conception dive boat is seen along the coast near the Santa Barbara, Calif., harbor. Federal lawmakers have changed 19th century maritime liability rules for accident victims and their families in response to the 2019 boat fire off the coast of Southern California that killed 34 people. President Joe Biden signed an $858 billion defense spending bill on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, which included the Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act. (AP Photo/John Antczak, File)

(AP Photo/John Antczak, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal lawmakers have changed 19th-century maritime liability rules for accident victims and their families in response to the 2019 boat fire off the coast of Southern California that killed 34 people.

The Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act was included in the $858 billion defense spending bill that President Joe Biden signed Friday.

It updates the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, under which boat owners were able to limit their liability to the value of the remains of the vessel. In the case of the Conception, the scuba diving boat where an inferno trapped 33 passengers and one crew member in the bunkroom below deck off Santa Barbara three years ago, the boat was a total loss.

Now owners of small passenger vessels can be held legally responsible for damages in accidents and incidents, regardless of the boat’s value afterward.

The final version of the law, sponsored last year by California Democrats Rep. Salud Carbajal and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is not retroactive and will not apply in the case of the Conception, one of the deadliest maritime tragedies in recent U.S. history.

“This is an important change, inspired by the families of the 34 precious lives lost on the Conception in 2019, that will ensure families of future maritime disasters do not face the same antiquated laws when seeking the support they deserve,” Carbajal, who represents the area where the disaster occurred, said in a news release.

The 1851 law is a time-tested legal maneuver that has been successfully employed by owners of vessels from the Titanic to countless others, some as small as Jet Skis. It has its origins in 18th-century England and was meant to promote the shipping business.

A suit filed by the Conception’s owners to limit their liability remains ongoing in federal court.

The Passenger Vessel Association, a trade group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

19 hours ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

3 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

3 days ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

7 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

8 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

US maritime liability rules changed after 2019 boat fire