What you don’t know could hurt you. Do you know the difference between towing and salvage claims? Salvage claims bring big price tags, so know the facts.
Towing is when you simply use a line to help tow a boat that is not in peril. Examples would be:
- Taking a disabled vessel (dead battery/out of fuel) to a marina
- Pulling a boat off a soft grounding
Most towing companies usually charge a flat fee per hour for their towing services.
If the boat is in peril, there could be a case for salvage. What do we mean by “peril”? The term Perils of the Sea refer to extraordinary forces of nature that a mariner might encounter in the course of a voyage. Some examples of these perils include stranding (hard grounding), sinking, collision, fire, and heavy weather.
Admiralty law has traditionally recognized that the law of salvage rewards the voluntary salvor for a successful rescue of life or property imperiled at sea. In order to have a valid claim for having provided salvage services, the salvor must show that the property saved was imperiled, that his services were voluntarily rendered and that he was successful in whole or in part to saving the vessel.
The courts may use several factors in establishing the amount of the salvor’s reward. This could include the risk involved to the salvor, the difficulty of the operation, and value of the vessel saved and the degree of danger in which the property was exposed. The compensation under salvage law can be as much as 50% of the value of the vessel.
When you are requesting help be sure to clarify with the party helping what services they are providing; towing or salvage. Otherwise you may find yourself in court trying to maintain ownership of your boat or your insurance company may pay a large claim on your behalf to the salvor. Any claims paid may impact your loss history.
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