What is an Allision?

Allision is an important term in maritime law. It’s used to refer to situations in which one vessel runs into another or into an object that isn’t in motion. The main difference between an allision and a collision is that in the second case, there are two vessels running against each other.

A Detailed Explanation and Applicability

This is a very important term pertaining to crashes at sea, identifying the guilty party and investigating the consequences of such an accident. As far as negligence goes, figuring out who has caused the crash may also be important.

A person that has been involved in an allision may be entitled to compensation for negligence under the Jones Act. This is why the term is important. It usually pertains to the one vessel in motion rather than two ships approaching each other. Thus, it may be a lot easier to identify the guilty party.

Most often, it is considered that the moving vessel is the one that should be held accountable for the allision. In such instances, there will be liability standards that apply to the injuries and disabilities of people who have been involved in the crash.

Injuries caused under such circumstances may qualify under various statutes and federal regulations.

Jones Act is the most important one, especially when negligence and failure to observe safety regulations have led to the crash between the two vessels. In addition, allisions may pertain to the Death of the High Seas Act.

Such crashes also have relevance to an array of additional statutes. The Admiralty Extension Act is one of them. AEA increases the scope of maritime location testing. In such instances, damage sustained on land and caused by a navigable vessel is subjected to maritime regulations. A bridge that gets hit by a vessel, for example, is seen as an allision under the AEA.

Finally, applicability exists whenever the Intergovernmental Maritime Commission Basic Collision Regulations (COLREGs) are being explored. COLREG provisions apply in two situations – collisions and allisions. The aim of these regulations is to prevent crashes at sea. Eventually, the COLREGs were adopted by the US and became a part of national law.

The aim of the regulations is to maximize vessel safety, improve navigation and determine liability for damage after the collision (a statute that has not been ratified by the US).

The Different Interpretation and Liability Rules

An allision at sea may be subjected to a couple of specific rules. The most important ones include the Oregon Rule, Louisiana Rule, and the Pennsylvania Rule.

The Pennsylvania Rule was created by the Supreme Court and used in it’s the Pennsylvania decision. The court case involved two vessels – a sailing ship and a steamer. The two of them collided close to the New Jersey coast. In the dense fog, the steamer hit the sailing vessel and caused the death of six out of the ten crew members.

The US District Court of New York and the Second Circuit ruled out that the steamer was the one that had caused the crash. The Supreme Court, however, came out with a somewhat different ruling. It determined that the sailing vessel was also partially to blame.

The vessel had violated a statutory rule because it never blew a foghorn. Despite the heavy fog, the vessel had only rang a bell – a signal that was insufficient taking into consideration the weather conditions.

Based on this instance, the Pennsylvania Rule states that whenever a vessel violates statutory provisions aimed at preventing allisions and collisions, it is also partially to blame for a crash. In such situations, the entity that violated regulations will be burdened with proving that the violation didn’t cause the accident or contribute to it in any way.

Louisiana and Oregon rules come with similar provisions. Both of them state that a moving vessel is at fault whenever it hits an object at rest. Under these rules, damage caused by an allision is always the responsibility of the moving vessel’s operator. In such situations, the operator or owner of the moving vessel is the entity that has the burden of proof.

Thus, the interpretation will be dependent on the place where the crash has occurred and the specific circumstances. Let’s take a look at a couple of real-life examples that present allisions and how guilt is established.

Examples of Marine Allisions and Their Aftermath

The case of Bunge Co. v. Freeport Marine Repair is an intriguing one that presents a ruling after an allision.

In 2001, Hull No. 40 that was under construction broke from its mooring after a hurricane. The vessel caused an allision by hitting a grain-loading facility. In this situation, the Louisiana Rule was applied. This means that the vessel at motion was presumed guilty for the crash.

Additionally, the vessel was in navigable waters when it hit the stationary object. Because of this fact, all maritime statutes applied to the situation and the damage caused by the crash.

A second situation that deserves some examination is Mike Hooks Dredging v. Marquette Transportation Gulf-Inland LLC.

Mike Hooks is a dredge that was operating in the Intracostal Waterways when it was struck by another passing vessel – the Pat McDaniel. When the accident occurred, Mike Hooks was moored on the bank.

Because one of the vessels was moving and the second one was moored, the accident was considered an allision. In this situation, the Pennsylvania Rule applied. In 2013, the US Court of Appeals found out that the company operating Mike Hooks was in violation of the Inland Navigation Rule 9 pertaining to mooring in a narrow channel.

Because of the particular interpretation, Mike Hooks Dredging had to establish that its violation wasn’t the cause or a contributing factor to the crash. The owner claimed that the Pennsylvania Rule didn’t apply since the vessel wasn’t obstructing the channel. The court, however, rejected the argument and concluded that the Pennsylvania Rule applied to the incident.

One of the newest cases occurred in 2017. In February, six servicemen on a Coast Guard vessel were injured in an allision. The boat struck South Carolina’s Paul Gelegotis Bridge when the crew was attempting to respond fast to a downed aircraft search. Since the accident is still relatively new, investigators haven’t identified the cause of the allision. Witnesses report that the vessel slowed down before reaching the bridge and the weather was clear.

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