Tuesday, September 10, 2019

That sinking feeling

You've likely read about the tragic story of the diving boat incident that claimed almost 3 dozen lives last week. One of the unexpected things that happened pretty quickly was a lawsuit ...

Wait a minute, Henry: why would that be a surprise? Of course the families of those killed would seek some kind of compensation.

Well, that's true, of course, but this lawsuit was actually filed by the boat's owner against those families.


Well, it seems that there's a longstanding maritime law that enables a boat's owners to limit (or even prohibit) monetary damages as a result of this kind of tragedy:

"The owners of the diving vessel that caught fire in California and killed 34 people last week filed a pre-emptive lawsuit last week, seeking to limit payouts to the families of victims. The lawsuit was filed three days after the boat caught fire, while families were still grieving, and bodies of the victims were still being removed from the water."

Wow, talk about heartless.

But maybe not:

"The owners ... have blamed their insurers for a lawsuit that they  filed to limit their payouts to victims' families, calling it an "unfortunate side of these tragedies."

Oh sure, blame the insurer.

On the other hand, it's the insurer's duty to its policyholders and owners (stockholders) to limit those damages, and that's why they keep lawyers on hand for just this kind of situation. It does seem rather crass, but the insurer is also bound to do all it can to mitigate the damages. And the timing, while unfortunate, may have little to do with lack of compassion, and much to do with timely filing.

Our hearts, of course, go out to those families, but this seems to be strictly business.
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