Quirk in US maritime law may be key to liability in Baltimore bridge disaster

The investigation continues to determine why a container ship, the Dali, smashed into a pillar of the 2.6 km span of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key bridge in early morning darkness on Tuesday, causing it to collapse and leaving six construction workers presumed dead.

However, establishing the precise cause of the accident will be just the first step in untangling the question of who will shoulder the financial cost of the disaster, which will be considerable.

John Neal, chief executive of the leading global insurer Lloyds of London, told British media on Thursday that the accident is "certainly going to be one of the largest marine losses in history”.

Mathilde Jakobsen, senior director of analytics at the credit rating agency AM Best, agreed, noting that “while the total cost of the bridge collapse and associated claims will not be clear for some time, it is likely to run into the billions of dollars”.

The tragedy could lead to up to $4 billion in insurance claims, Morningstar DBRS said.

Reinsurers – insurers that handle risks that are too large for insurance companies to handle alone – “will bear the bulk of the insured cost of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore”, according to Jakobsen.

The Dali’s insurer, Britannia P&I Club, is part of a global group of mutual insurance organisations that pool liability for the shipping industry.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters)

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
How the Baltimore bridge collapse could disrupt US shipping
Investigators recover data recorder from cargo ship that hit Baltimore bridge
Two bodies recovered from submerged truck in Baltimore bridge collapse