The Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute creates criminal liability for the negligence of mariners and vessel owners or operators that results in the loss of life on the waters of United States.
In 1833, Senator Josiah Johnson was killed by an explosion aboard a passenger steamboat. Frustrated by the rising tide of safety issues aboard passenger vessels, President Andrew Jackson accused vessel owners of criminal negligence. Originally passed in 1838, The Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute was Congress’s response to the president’s words.
The modern Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute is codified as 18 U.S.C. 1115. It states:
“Every captain, engineer, pilot, or other person employed on any steamboat or vessel, by whose misconduct, negligence, or inattention to his duties on such vessel the life of any person is destroyed, and every owner, charterer, inspector, or other public officer, through whose fraud, neglect, connivance, misconduct, or violation of law the life of any person is destroyed, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
When the owner or charterer of any steamboat or vessel is a corporation, any executive officer of such corporation, for the time being actually charged with the control and management of the operation, equipment, or navigation of such steamboat or vessel, who has knowingly and willfully caused or allowed such fraud, neglect, connivance, misconduct, or violation of law, by which the life of any person is destroyed, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
Under the lengthy statute, a defendant can be guilty of a crime if he or she:
Was a captain, engineer, pilot or other person employed by a vessel;
Performed misconduct, negligence, or inattention to his or her duties; and
As a result, life was destroyed.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the criminal negligence of mariners or vessel owners, Mariner Law, PLLC may be able to help. Please call (253) 600-2531 to learn more. The firm serves mariner clients in Washington, Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Alaska, and nationwide.