The 11th Circuit United States Court of Appeals, which covers Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, published an opinion that reenforces the protections afforded to the injured when they are considering different forums for suit. In Offshore v. Lynch, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to allow the injured woman to pursue her injury claims in state court after the defendant attempted to limit the forum to the federal court system where the alleged at-fault party would have access to a federal statute that limits the liability for personal injury or death.
In this case a woman, who was a member of a boat club, took a 26-foot vessel owned by the club out to sea. When the woman was 500 miles from the shore the boat struck the wake of another craft and sent the woman into the air, slamming her back into the boat, and causing devastating physical injury. Following the accident, the woman asserted that the club that owned the boat was negligent and liable to her for damages over the $95,000 value of the boat.
The woman provided notice to the boat-owner that she was going to file an action against them, but the boat owner sued in federal district court to claim the exoneration or limitation of liability to the value of the vessel under the federal statute. Following the boat owner’s filing, the district court closed off any other causes of action against the boat owner or the boat related to the injury. This woman answered the boat owner’s filing, and included her claim for extensive injuries based on the boat owner’s negligence, or failure to exercise reasonable care. She requested the district court to lift the bar to suit in federal court so she could pursue legal action in state court first. The injured woman wanted to pursue the common law remedy in state court, and pointed to the well-established exception that allowed a sole person to pursue a claim. The injured woman went as far as listing stipulations that would protect the boat owner’s right to later invoke the limitation of liability in federal district court.
The district court lifted the injunction and allowed the injured woman to pursue her civil action in state court. The Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with the lower court’s decision to allow her to pursue state action prior to federal action, and declined to follow the boat owner’s logic that once they filed to limit liability, the injured party was limited to the federal forum.
This case illustrates the importance of hiring an attorney who is familiar with both state and federal statutes that limit liability or the time to file suit. The Georgia catastrophic injury attorneys at Angell law firm have the experience necessary to guide your case through the appropriate forum that will maximize the compensation that you need and deserve. If you’ve been injured in an accident and want to speak to one of our seasoned attorneys, contact our office today at (770) 217-4954 for a free, confidential consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Publishes 2014 Roadmap of State Highways and Safety Laws, Atlanta Accident Attorney Blog, January 29th, 2014
Georgia Supreme Court Case Assesses Available Remedies for Injured Motorists, Atlanta Accident Attorney Blog, January 22nd, 2014