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Maritime Salvage

Vessel owners and operators often find themselves facing danger at sea due to various watercraft mechanical issues. For example, ships can sink at their dock due to wind and other forces causing the vessel to lean at dangerous angles. When these types of cases occur, mariners at sea need assistance and that may not always come from the Coast Guard.

Maritime law has developed a specific law, known as the “law of salvage,” to address these types of situations. The law of salvage or maritime salvage is the process of recovering a ship and its cargo after a shipwreck. It is a necessary maritime law because assisting another at sea can mean great danger for the vessel helping. So, the idea is if you put yourself in danger to save another you should be appropriately rewarded. Without maritime salvage law, lives, ships, and cargo would be lost.

Salvage is a unique area of maritime law. That’s why it’s important to seek skilled legal representation. Our maritime lawyers at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC are aware of all the legal issues that can occur with regard to maritime vessel owners at sea. If you need assistance with your maritime salvage case, contact us today.

Maritime Salvage Lawyers in California, Oregon, New York, Washington, Alaska, and Connecticut

If you are pursuing compensation for your maritime salvage case, contact Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC today. Our maritime attorneys are skilled professionals who have fought for clients throughout Washington, Oregon, California, Connecticut, New York and Alaska since 1977. They have cultivated a niche practice in admiralty and maritime law and understand what arguments are effective for salvage claims.

Your first consultation with Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC is free, so call 1 (800) 262-8529 and schedule yours today. Our maritime salvage lawyers will utilize their decades of combined experience for maritime pursuits to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC has offices in Portland, New York City, Seattle, Bellingham, and San Francisco. We are ready to review your maritime injury case.


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Elements of Maritime Salvage

The person who saves property at sea is entitled to a reward. To determine maritime salvage service was performed, the plaintiff must prove these three specific elements in a claim:

  • A marine peril placed the property at risk or destruction
  • Salvage service wasn’t required by duty or contract – it was voluntarily rendered
  • Salvage efforts were successful, in whole or in part

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Scenarios Involving Maritime Salvage

Anything can happen while at sea. The ocean is vast and therefore, comes with its own set of risks. Between dangerous conditions, weather, and contaminated water, mariners aboard a vessel are susceptible to several hazardous scenarios. Those who help these mariners despite the risks should receive a maritime salvage reward.

Scenarios that could involve maritime salvage include:

  • Ships on fire
  • Ships abandoned in navigation
  • Submersions
  • Ships sinking due to collision
  • Vessels grounded on a beach or shoal
  • Vessels having lost power

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Award for Maritime Salvage

There is no law that sets forth how much a salvor is entitled to recover after maritime salvage unless it’s classified as contract salvage. Contract salvage occurs when both parties settle compensation for salvage services ahead of time. However in a case of “pure salvage,” the salvor voluntarily provides services to a vessel at risk. There is no pre-existing agreement in regard to compensation.

In this case, the district court considers several factors when determining a specific amount of the salvage award. The United States Supreme Court considers the following circumstances as the main elements in determining the amount of the award:

  • The labor expended by the salvors in rendering the salvage service
  • The promptness, skill and energy displayed in rendering the service
  • The value of the property employed by the salvors in rendering the service, and the dangers to which the property was exposed
  • The risk incurred by the salvors in securing the property from impending peril
  • The value of the property saved
  • The degree of danger from which the property was rescued

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Common Injuries During Maritime Salvage

There are several types of injuries that a mariner may sustain during the act of maritime salvage. Such trauma can range from minor bruises to life-threatening suffering. Catastrophes at sea may even result in wrongful death. Examples of marine salvage injuries include (but are not limited to):

  • Back and neck injuries
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Heavy concussions
  • Drowning
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Hypothermia
  • Loss of limbs
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Frostbite
  • Dental trauma
  • Lacerations
  • Internal trauma

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Additional Resources for Maritime Salvage

The Maritime Executive – Visit the Maritime Executive website to read recent maritime news. You’ll also be able to view podcasts and blogs. The publication was founded in 1997 and its mission is to provide business leaders and professionals with high-quality commentary on critical maritime issues.

U.S. Department of Transportation: Maritime Administration –  The U.S. Department of Transportation is responsible for supporting the technical aspects of America’s maritime transportation infrastructure. Visit the website to read about national security and economic security in regard to the maritime industry.


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Marine Salvage Attorneys in California, Oregon, New York, Washington, Alaska, and Connecticut

If you are involved in a dispute concerning a salvage operation, it’s best to obtain legal representation. Our marine salvage attorneys at Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC offer dedicated legal counsel in matters involving salvage claims of all types of vessels. We have aggressively fought for clients’ rights since 1977.

Anderson Carey Williams & Neidzwski, PLLC represents clients injured at sea and those seeking maritime salvage compensation in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, New York, Connecticut and California. Call us today at 1 (800) 262-8529 or send an online message to set up a free consultation to discuss your claim. We know what it takes to achieve a successful maritime injury outcome.


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  • The Maritime Law Association of The United States
    The Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA) was founded in 1899. Its formation was prompted by the organization, some three years earlier, of the International Maritime Committee.
  • Washington State Bar Association
    The Washington State Bar Association operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court to license the state's nearly 40,000 lawyers and other legal professionals.
  • Oregon State Bar
    The Oregon State Bar is a government agency in the U.S. state of Oregon. Founded in 1890 as the private Oregon Bar Association, it became a public entity in 1935 that regulates the legal profession.
  • Alaska Bar Association
    The Alaska Bar Association is a mandatory bar association responsible to the Alaska Supreme Court for the admission and discipline process of attorneys for the State of Alaska.