Salvage & Towage Claims

In contrast to land based law, which does not grant a volunteer who preserves or saves property the right to compensation, the salvor of imperiled property on navigable waters is entitled to a reward. Salvage is the actual claim brought in Federal Court for services voluntarily rendered to maritime property that was subject to a marine peril. The reward due a salvor creates a maritime lien on the salved property. The salvor may sue both the owner of the property and the maritime property (i.e., the vessel itself) under appropriate circumstances.

The elements that must be proven in a salvage claim are:

  • There must be a marine peril placing the property at risk of loss, destruction, or deterioration;
  • The salvage service must be voluntarily rendered and not required by an existing duty or by special contract;
  • The salvage efforts must be successful, in whole or in part.

“Pure salvage” is where voluntary service is rendered without prior agreement or legal duty regarding compensation. This principle is also known as the “no cure, no pay” salvage. The reward in a “pure” salvage situation, in part, is determined from the property spared from destruction. In awarding an equitable award the Courts will look to the following criteria:

  • The salved value of the vessel and other property;
  • The skill and efforts of the vessel and other property;
  • The measure of success obtained by the salvor;
  • The nature and degree of the damager;
  • The skill and efforts of the salvor in saving the vessel, other property and life.
  • The time used and expenses incurred by the salvors;
  • The risk of liability and other risks run by the salvors and their equipment;
  • The promptness of the services rendered;
  • The availability and use of vessels or other equipment intended for salvage operations;
  • The state of readiness and efficiency of the salvor’s equipment and the value thereof.

In contrast to “pure salvage” where there is no pre-existing agreement between a salvor and vessel owner, “contract salvage”, involves a salvor who acts to save maritime property after entering into an agreement to use “best endeavors.” The most popular salvage contract is the Lloyd’s Open Form (“LOF”).

The principles of towage law are distinct from salvage, and towage is compensated at a contract rate, while salvage merits an equitable award.

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach our lawyers you may click email the firm, call 1-800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.


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