What’s an Allision & When Do Vessels Allide?
The maritime industry is filled with words that aren’t used in everyday language. Building upon centuries of tradition, nautical words have been transferred from one generation of workers to the next. This means that everyday words used by offshore workers might not be familiar to many other people—including those who are new to the industry.
One word that might not be familiar to non-offshore workers—and hopefully isn’t familiar to many offshore workers—is the word allision. This word is used to describe a specific type of incident involving a vessel. While many people might call an allision a collision, they’d be technically wrong in doing so.
What’s a Vessel Allision?
An allision occurs any time a vessel hits an object that is fixed or stationary. In short: vessels collide when one hits another and vessels allide when they hit an object that doesn’t move. So, if a vessel hits something such as a dock, it has allided with the dock.
The Oregon Rule: Why the Definition of Allision Matters for Maritime Law
The difference between an allision or a collision matters when trying to prove who is a fault for an accident. In maritime law, there’s something known as the Oregon Rule that defines who is at fault for an allision. The Oregon Rule states that “presumption derives from the common-sense observation that moving vessels do not usually collide with stationary objects unless the [moving] vessel is mishandled in some way."
In other words, if a vessel hits a stationary object, it’s considered at fault for the allision unless the operator can prove otherwise.
Moving vessels must prove one of the following to shift fault for colliding with a non-moving object:
- It was operating under reasonable care
- The stationary object was at fault for the incident
- The accident with the object was unavoidable
For example, let’s look at a situation in which a vessel hits a bridge. Under the Oregon Rule, that vessel is at fault for alliding with the bridge. However, owners of that vessel might discover that the bridge was not properly maintained or marked to allow for the safe passage of vessels beneath it. If this is true, the moving vessel needs to provide evidence. Otherwise, it’s assumed that the moving vessel is at fault for the accident.
The Oregon Rule can be important for injured offshore workers who need to prove who is at fault for an accident so they can seek compensation for injuries and other losses associated with it. In some instances, the owners of the vessel they sustained injuries might not be at fault for a collision with a stationary object. Using the Oregon Rule can help injured workers hold the right parties liable for their accident.
What Causes Allisions?
Research has determined that human error is the root cause of nearly all types of navigation errors, including allusions. In other words, a vessel only allides with an object because of a set of circumstances that are preventable and shouldn't happen. Vessel operators are responsible for following the right procedures to help ensure that allisions don't happen and that crews are protected from dangers associated with them.
If you were involved with an allision and suffered injuries, help is available. Call (888) 346-5024 for help from a team of experienced and dedicated maritime lawyers. Consultation with a member of our team is free and confidential.