For cases involving personal injury or fatalities to persons on board a ship or caused by a ship, the first step is to determine whether the injured person is a "passenger" within the meaning of Part 4 of the Marine Liability Act. If the injured person is carried under a contract of carriage (either domestic or international) they are a "passenger" within the meaning of Part 4. If the injured person is carried on a ship that is being operated for a commercial or public purpose, they are also a "passenger" within the meaning of Part 4. On the other hand, if the injured person is carried on a ship used for pleasure purposes and not under a contract of carriage, they are not a "passenger" within the meaning of Part 4.
If the injured person is a "passenger" within the meaning of Part 4 of the Marine Liability Act, then the liability regime in Part 4 (and the commentary under the section "Carriage of Passengers") applies.
If the injured person is not a "passenger" within the meaning of Part 4 of the Marine Liability Act, then the general common law of negligence applies.
If personal injury results from a collision between two ships the limitation period is two years as set out in s. 23(1) of the Marine Liability Act.
If the claim is for personal injury not caused in a collision between two ships and not to a passenger (and not a claim by a dependant), the limitation period is three years as set out in s. 140 of the Marine Liability Act.
Claims for personal injury or fatalities are subject to the limitations of liability set out in Part 3 of the Marine Liability Act. These limits are addressed in the section entitled "Limitation of Liability" and the actual limits depend on the size of the ship. For ships less than 300 tons (which will be most pleasure craft), the limit is C$1,000,000. The limitation can only be broken if the plaintiff proves that the loss resulted from the personal act or omission of the defendant “committed with the intent to cause such loss, or recklessly and with knowledge that such loss would probably result”. This is a very strict test and the author is not aware of any case where the test has been met. In fact, the Supreme Court of Canada described it as "a virtually unbreakable limit" in Peracomo Inc. v. Telus Communications Co., 2014 SCC 29.
Claims by dependants of an injured or deceased person are governed by Part 1 of the Marine Liability Act which gives dependants the right to bring a claim against the wrongdoer in circumstances where the injured or deceased person could have brought a claim. "Dependant" is defined in section 4 and includes spouse, common law spouse, children, grandchildren, grandparents and brothers and sisters.
The damages recoverable by a dependant include loss of care, guidance and companionship (s.6(3)(a)) as well as the actual value of the loss of past and future financial support.
A claim by a dependant is subject to a two year limitation period pursuant to s. 14 of the Marine Liability Act and is also subject to limitation of liability.
The database contains 24 case summaries relating to Personal Injury and Maritime Law. The summaries are sorted in reverse date order with 20 summaries per page. If there are more than 20 summaries, use the navigation links at the bottom of the page.
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Mary-Ellen Hawkins v. The Margaret Elizabeth No.1, T2515-94
Hawkins v. The "Margaret Elizabeth No.1" et al., 1997 CanLII 6107
Martin v. Derrach, 1997 CanLII 4614
Sarabia v. The Oceanic Mindoro, 1996 CanLII 1537 (BC CA)