Piecing things back together following a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Ida, can be a time-consuming and stressful process for individuals and companies alike.
For those in the maritime industry, there are a number of unique factors to be mindful of when assessing the extent and scope of damage. Below are some helpful tips from Jones Walker’s maritime emergency and casualty response team for responding to an emergency:
- Conduct a Thorough Post-Incident Investigation – A thorough investigation is crucial for understanding potential causes, liability issues, and arguments; addressing inquiries from governmental agencies; and pursuing rights and remedies afforded under contracts and the law. A thorough investigation helps identify whether other parties may be responsible for the incident or damage caused.
- Preserve and Document Damage – Documenting and preserving evidence of damage is critical. With respect to on-site investigation, it is important to secure the scene of an incident to the fullest extent possible without interfering with response activities, personnel safety, and potential damage to the vessel or equipment. Surveyors and experts can assist in analyzing damages, as well as the technical aspects of an investigation.
- Maintain Appropriate Interface with Government Agencies – Almost every major maritime disaster involves interactions with and investigations by government authorities. Parties should take a proactive approach when engaging federal and state agencies regarding the methods and extent of response actions during investigations. Parties should also be mindful of any reporting requirements related to incidents.
- Be Mindful of Deadlines – In the event you will eventually file a claim or have to defend against a claim, certain deadlines to file pleadings may apply. For example, if you are considering filing a limitation of liability action in federal court, you will want to be mindful of the unique six-month deadline associated with that proceeding. If you are seeking to file a property damage or insurance claim, the time frame may differ depending on the specific type of such claim that is being filed.
- Timely Notify Underwriters – Timely reporting and notification to an underwriter of an incident is vital in the event you will eventually file a claim or have to defend against a claim. Underwriters can also assist with certain aspects of an incident response, such as retaining surveyors or coordinating spill responses.