The remains of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after it was struck by a container ship on March 26.

The owner and manager of the Dali containership are seeking to limit their legal liability to $43.7 million.The 95,000-ton cargo ship collided with Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26.An old law could cap the companies’ liability at a fraction of the overall cost, a maritime expert said.

The owner and manager of the Dali containership that collided with Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge last week are attempting to limit their legal liability through an old law.

Grace Ocean, the vessel’s owner, and Synergy Marine, the operations manager, are seeking to cap their liability at about $43.7 million — the value of the ship after the disaster, according to a court petition the companies filed on Monday in Maryland. The Singapore-based companies valued the 95,000-metric ton Dali at up to $90 million, pre-bridge collision.

Cleanup from the disaster will eat into the ship’s overall value. Repair could cost at least $28 million and salvage another $19.5 million, the companies estimated. The freight was valued at $1.2 million. The companies will file another estimate after determining final salvage and repair costs.

Grace Ocean and Synergy Marine filed their petition under a 19th-century federal law that limits owners’ liabilities to the post-incident value of the ship and the money owed for the freight onboard. The same rule was successfully used by the owner of the Titanic, which sank in 1912 during its maiden voyage. The Titanic was insured for £1 million at the time, according to Lloyd’s of London, the insurance marketplace where many of Dali’s reinsurers operate.

Analysts expect the Baltimore bridge disaster to trigger billions of dollars in insurance claims, making it one of the largest single marine insurance losses.

If the limitation is granted, the companies may be able to save significant money on the forthcoming claims, Michael Sturley, an expert in maritime law and professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Law, told Business Insider’s Natalie Musumeci last week.

The companies would have to establish that they were not at fault for the incident and that they had no knowledge of negligence or other conditions that led to the disaster in this case.

The official investigation also plays a key role in whether the petition is successful. The case is expected to take years to resolve.

The limitation act “is regularly invoked, but much less often successful,” Sturley added to BI.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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