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Old 29-07-2012, 21:21   #1
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Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Hello Everyone and thank you for reading my posting for your advise.

First of all, if, this issue has been discuss in length and I simply lack the history on CF to be aware. I respectfully ask you to direct me to the threads and excuse me for bringing up an old subject matter.

I would like to ask a legality question concerning volunteer crews member and possible surrounding circumstances that could happen as unlikely as it may be in most cases. This has been the subject of several after dinner conversation between friends and I in recent months. I am hoping the collective experience and extensive gathering of knowledge of the CF members will be very educational and provide invaluable insight on the matter concerning volunteer crew issues. If I am not the only one, who needs to have a better understanding and if your time discussing the issues at hand can provide higher clarification to others with similar questions. Your advises will be even better served.

If at all possible, may I please ask the supportive advising members to clearly identify the their statements as (1) Experienced (2) Opinion or (3) Law and if possible give a quick reference and (4) Owner/Skipper (5) None owner/Skipper (6) Volunteer crew and ask you to cut and past the question before answering to better identify your statement with the question

a. Vessel's skipper/owner responsibility to the volunteer crew?

b. Vessel's skipper/none owner responsibility to the volunteer crew?

c. Volunteer crew's responsibility to the skipper/owner?

d. Volunteer crew's responsibility to the skipper/ none owner?

e. Volunteer crew often stand watch and man the helm (Experienced sailor and/or no experience sailor) - Some one gets injured on board the vessel or outside the vessel. What is the volunteer crew's situation? (With the consideration the volunteer crew did do something wrong or did nothing wrong)

f. The volunteer crew is injured (minor to critical) while performing crew duties as a volunteer crew? (Medical coverage and possible lost of time/money/physical ability and Etc.) because of the vessel, skipper, other volunteer crew member, other vessels and nature?

g. Similar situation as above "e" except no injury, but property damage involving the vessel the volunteer is on and another vessel or some other property while the volunteer crew is at watch and/or driving the boat i.e manning the helm?

h. Would it be wise to ad volunteer crew on to the vessel's insurance policy for the duration of the voyage as it is often done during paid professional deliveries?

i. Paying for transportation, on board expenses and/or giving some level of financial compensation for the volunteer crew's assistance? (Is the owner's and/or the skipper's relationship changed any i.e. is the volunteer no longer a volunteer in the eyes of the law and what does this mean?)

j. Requesting the volunteer crew to make contribution (financially) to be on the vessel? Where does the sharing part end and the vessel is a charter vessel? Is $20, $30, $50/day OK, but not $51 Etc. If the vessel is bigger and nice and Etc, is it Ok to request more $$ contribution?

k. Domestic ports or international ports. the volunteer crew brakes a law during the time the volunteer crew is with the vessel? (Including procession of drugs) The crew is arrested and/or the law comes to the vessel/owner/skipper?

l. The volunteer crew do not have or Etc. financial means to provide their ability to exit the destination county on available when asked by the local custom's agency - is the skipper responsible for securing the crew's ability to return to the crew's home port? (As an example, it is not uncommon for a custom's agent to ask someone who arrives in the USA with one-way ticket to show that person has the means to exit the country and also have the money to support oneself during their stay)

There are many other possible situations, but I have burdened the thread too much. I thank you in advance for your positive support and your willingness to share your knowledge toward educating and formatting a discussion on these matters.

Thank you and best regards
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Old 29-07-2012, 23:45   #2
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Wondering Star,

I had a 100tonn license for 8 years before I gave it up
I have been an attorney for 5 years working in business and maritime law issue.

To be frank what you have asked here is a pretty major undertaking, since each of these issues has a lot of permutations, and can very significantly by state law. The following should not be considered legal advice, as these issues are very complicated, and can be very much fact specific.

Generally a skipper is liable to his crew for providing a seaworthy vessel, and for being reasonable prudent in the operation of his vessel. A volunteer crew member is liable to the skipper for gross negligence or intentional damage only.

Questions about international law or foreign law issues are only answerable in relation to a specific country.

I had to leave it this general, but these are highly complicated issues that would require pages of writing for each question. There is just not a short answer for them, and to be honest I don't give out that type of advice for free.
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Old 30-07-2012, 02:29   #3
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

I am a lawyer and a boat owner.

As stated above your questions do not have easy one-line answers and will depend on circumstance as well as jurisdiction. A full and detailed answer for any single jurisdiction alone would run to many pages of advice, and cost many thousands of dollars in legal fees, and cover everything from tort law to insurance law to contract law to maritime law.

Legal advice on the internet comes with a money-back guarantee, and no actual lawyer would provide that advice for free or on an online forum due to potential liability issues (so any advice received would be from a non-lawyer - value that as you will!)

If these issues are of significant concern to you you should seek appropriate advice from a qualified lawyer, and not from the internet.

Good luck.

J
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Old 30-07-2012, 03:08   #4
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Not a Lawyer but i am a Master Mariner Unlimited...

If at work i have a bridge full of legal references and documents that i can refer to, but i always fire of any legal concerns or questions to my employer who employs Maritime Lawyers on a full time basis for this very reason....

At home on my own boat ? i do the same, i have a good employer....

Anyway, i agree with Stumble and jannw, a forum is not the place for the advice you are seeking.....

Hey "Stumble"....you sound like a liability!.....
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Old 30-07-2012, 07:20   #5
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

I agree with the above comments, but will opinion this...

You as a Skipper (Licensed or not), have an absolute legal responsiblity to your crew and barring sevre negligence by a crewman, you are responsible for everything your crew does (or doesn't do) while they are on your vessel.

Something people forget or ignore is that they are not only subject to the laws of whatever waters they are sailing, but also the laws of the vessel's flag. So for instance, a US Flagged vessel sailing in Mexico is still subject to the USCG Rules and applicable Federal laws.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (Parts 33 and 46) and/or the USCG rules cover just about everything you have asked and for the most part mesh with international maritime laws.

In the USA, the CFR's & USCG Rules would be used in any USCG Board of Inquiry or Insurance claim concerning the situations you have described to determine fault or liability. I would suggest you start there:

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:

In the USA, you could also be subject to other state and federal laws concerning criminal issues resulting from the situations you have described while performing duties as Skipper.
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Old 30-07-2012, 08:04   #6
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

in reality your best protection is to pre interview applicants,and owners.
make sure the vessel has current insurance,with 3rd party being the minimum.
some sort of contract outlining responsabilities and liabilities.
return airtickets,and funds sufficient for the voyage.
personal health insurance.
and a seaworthy vessel!
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Old 30-07-2012, 08:29   #7
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Not a lawyer but it does seem like a full answer to the OP's questions could be the subject of a fairly large book.

Maybe narrow down to one specific that I think is a very common concern for most boat owners and something that could generate significant financial liability. Actually had something like this happen to someone crewing for me and it ended up costing me a good bit out of pocket.

You ask a friend to crew on your boat. May be for a race or you need an extra hand for a longer passage. As owner/captain you agree to pay all boat expenses: food, fuel, dockage, etc. but crew is unpaid. In the course of the trip the crew is injured. No negligence by owner or crew, not related to poor maintenance, etc, say the crew just lost their balance in a seaway and fell.

So who would be liable for the medical expenses, in particular if the crew member has no medical insurance?
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Old 30-07-2012, 08:36   #8
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Star-
"I would like to ask a legality question concerning volunteer crews member"
I am not a lawyer and refuse to even play one on TV, although I confess to knowing and fraternizing with several of them.
You are grabbing a tar baby when you say "volunteer crews". Crew are usually paid hands, as opposed to social guests on your boat. You're entering that popular area of "unpaid hired hands" and THAT specifically is going to create problems because crew are normally supposed to be PAID, and they are protected by law from abuse, underpayment, and other situations.
If you want to talk about UNPAID CREW come out and be honest, call it that. Volunteers versus dragooned drunks from bars doesn't matter much, they are still unpaid crew and I suspect the lawyers will tell you that the law considers crew to be crew, regardless of your failure to pay them, or the "other consideration" they may receive in lieu of pay.

No really, he's my friend, I just met him from an ad in Craigslist. (Ah, NO.)
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Old 30-07-2012, 08:53   #9
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

The answer to this question is dependant on your situation, and goals, and what or who you are trying to protect.

I have anyone who is going for more than a daysail, sign a "boiler plate". Your lawyer would have specific verbage to add. Other than that unless you are running a business a good insurance policy for both you, boat, and crew is your best bet.
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Old 30-07-2012, 09:21   #10
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Most importantly, Thank you for sharing your thoughts

I understand and agree with both councils as well as the kind advises and suggestions by experience Captains above. Forum such as CF or any open public forum are not the places to define an answer for many reasons.

I further agree and as it should be. Councils should not give detail advise for liability reasons, but specially because lawyers as many skilled professionals deserve to be compensated for their knowledge and experience gained through hard work and years of study.

As a skipper and as a crew member, I have not personally experienced difficulties during my sailing courier. May be - simply lucky, but having good fortune to have sailed with honorable skippers and integrity minded crews in the past, I did not have greater interest passed the general common functional level of legality. However, it has been a rotating topic for discussion between friends, skipper and crew members during after meal drinks. Therefore with desire to hear your thoughts and advise, I took the liberty to reach out and ask.

I am not looking to define the situations by "Volume", "Text", and past cases so much as to hear from those with years of experience to share possible experience-guided solutions logged in their memories.

It is and can be a difficult subject to give a short absolution key answers and a topic some way want to sustain less than in-depth knowledge or educate those who may gain strength by having higher level of understanding. Nevertheless, my attitude is knowing and gaining the ability to prepare and the capability to choose is always a better option than not knowing - guessing, risking pass possible regret.

I hope many more members will share their thoughts and opinions while giving mentor's advise on the subject matters.

Thank you again for your time sharing your thoughts and your generous advises.

Best of wishes
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Old 30-07-2012, 09:49   #11
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

CF senior cruiser "hellosailor" asked a good question - opening different possibilities.

What is meant by any of these terms:
* Volunteers crew
* Unpaid crew
* Volunteers guest
* Expense sharing crew/guest
* Any similar combination that may fit

I am not sure? how should one ask or post correctly to avoid misunderstanding?

As many hospitals use the term "guest" to describe "patients" these days, should we also use "guest" as in looking for (unpaid expanse sharing guest) instead of (Vol. crew or Etc.)?

Thank you "capn_bill", many of my friends also have a liability release for the guests coming on his vessel. Little awkward at times as pre-nuptial agreements could become, but under certain circumstances need.

Cheers
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Old 30-07-2012, 10:01   #12
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

It may not hurt to isolate assets in limited liability companies. Both New Zealand and Wyoming are good areas to domicile your company, and Wyoming has particularly good secrecy laws for corporations if you don't want to go off-shore.

Boat may be in company A's name, financed by company B which has a lien of at least boat value, leased to company C and operated by company D. You may have personal liabilities, but if assets are in a company, they are tough to attach. Besides, company B has first call on the asset, regardless of law suit.

Of course, fraudulent actions, nor tax evasion efforts, are exempt.

BTW, I am not a lawyer, but do know a lot about corporate structures and liability reduction. Take it for what it is worth, YMMV.
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Old 30-07-2012, 10:03   #13
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wondering Star View Post

What is meant by any of these terms:
* Volunteers crew
* Unpaid crew
* Volunteers guest
* Expense sharing crew/guest
* Any similar combination that may fit
Passenger is defined by the Code of Federal Regulations as:

46 CFR 24.10-1

Passenger means an individual carried on a vessel, except—
(1) The owner or an individual representative of the owner, or in the case of a vessel under charter, an individual charterer or individual representative of the charterer;
(2) The master; or
(3) A member of the crew engaged in the business of the vessel, who has not contributed consideration for carriage, and who is paid for onboard services.

Passenger-for-hire means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vessel.
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Old 30-07-2012, 14:24   #14
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

As a fully qualified Internet lawyer

a. Vessel's skipper/owner responsibility to the volunteer crew? - not to do something stupid.

b. Vessel's skipper/none owner responsibility to the volunteer crew? - not to do something stupid.

c. Volunteer crew's responsibility to the skipper/owner? - not to do something stupid.

d. Volunteer crew's responsibility to the skipper/ none owner? - not to do something stupid.

e. Volunteer crew often stand watch and man the helm (Experienced sailor and/or no experience sailor) - Some one gets injured on board the vessel or outside the vessel. What is the volunteer crew's situation? (With the consideration the volunteer crew did do something wrong or did nothing wrong)....if the Volunteer Crew did not do anything stupid then will probably be ok. probably.

f. The volunteer crew is injured (minor to critical) while performing crew duties as a volunteer crew? (Medical coverage and possible lost of time/money/physical ability and Etc.) because of the vessel, skipper, other volunteer crew member, other vessels and nature? .....if the Skipper / Owner / other Crew did something stupid then likely will have a case of compo.

g. Similar situation as above "e" except no injury, but property damage involving the vessel the volunteer is on and another vessel or some other property while the volunteer crew is at watch and/or driving the boat i.e manning the helm? .....as long at the Volunteer Crew did not do anything stupid then the Owners gets to suck it up.

h. Would it be wise to ad volunteer crew on to the vessel's insurance policy for the duration of the voyage as it is often done during paid professional deliveries?.....only if you think a good chance that your Volunteer Crew will do something stupid. Might want to extend your cover though - including legal insurance (for both defence and attack ).

i. Paying for transportation, on board expenses and/or giving some level of financial compensation for the volunteer crew's assistance? (Is the owner's and/or the skipper's relationship changed any i.e. is the volunteer no longer a volunteer in the eyes of the law and what does this mean?).....unlikely that the Volunteer would be considered an employee simply because you fed him. nor bought him a bus ticket to the boat.

j. Requesting the volunteer crew to make contribution (financially) to be on the vessel? Where does the sharing part end and the vessel is a charter vessel? Is $20, $30, $50/day OK, but not $51 Etc. If the vessel is bigger and nice and Etc, is it Ok to request more $$ contribution? - not if the expenses are simply additional expenses incurred from the crew member being onboard (so boat being nicer doesn't count, nor does the boat using fuel - would have used that anyway)......lots of grey area between that figure and being an unofficial charter.

k. Domestic ports or international ports. the volunteer crew brakes a law during the time the volunteer crew is with the vessel? (Including procession of drugs) The crew is arrested and/or the law comes to the vessel/owner/skipper? What the crew does onshore is not your problem. In practice you might get a visit, especiallly if drugs involved. If the crew has left any drugs onboard they will be regarded as if they were yours. your boat = your responsibility.

l. The volunteer crew do not have or Etc. financial means to provide their ability to exit the destination county on available when asked by the local custom's agency - is the skipper responsible for securing the crew's ability to return to the crew's home port? (As an example, it is not uncommon for a custom's agent to ask someone who arrives in the USA with one-way ticket to show that person has the means to exit the country and also have the money to support oneself during their stay).....If the country you visit gives a sh#t about stuff like that, then the answer is very likely - Yes.

Of course the definition of Stupid can get argued over in court. and will do if someone sniffs money. The best protection is no survivors .

and if none of all that turns out to be true - I suggest you sue CF, they could have stopped me - but they did not. which in internet legal terms means they are responsible and not me. especially because it is a Monday.

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Old 30-07-2012, 15:04   #15
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
i. Paying for transportation, on board expenses and/or giving some level of financial compensation for the volunteer crew's assistance? (Is the owner's and/or the skipper's relationship changed any i.e. is the volunteer no longer a volunteer in the eyes of the law and what does this mean?).....unlikely that the Volunteer would be considered an employee simply because you fed him. nor bought him a bus ticket to the boat.


David is partially right, except you mentioned compensation. You might want to read my previous post, the JONES ACT or 46 United States Code 688.

"Compensation" is the key work in determining employment status on a vessel and it has a broad definition in the courts.



Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
j. Requesting the volunteer crew to make contribution (financially) to be on the vessel? Where does the sharing part end and the vessel is a charter vessel? Is $20, $30, $50/day OK, but not $51 Etc. If the vessel is bigger and nice and Etc, is it Ok to request more $$ contribution? - not if the expenses are simply additional expenses incurred from the crew member being onboard (so boat being nicer doesn't count, nor does the boat using fuel - would have used that anyway)......lots of grey area between that figure and being an unofficial charter.
Refer to my previous post.... "Any Compensation to the owner makes that person a paid passenger". That makes your boat a charter and requires you to hold the proper licenses and if over six passengers, the proper vessel inspections.

There is no gray area if it is investigted and your "passengers" tell the USCG they gve you $1 for the ride, you will be cited for operting without a USCG license.

This is now a big issue in San Francisco Bay, where the USCG is clampping down on people trying to take passengers out for the America's Cup.

They are doing press releases, yacht club presentation and public relations reminding people a skipper receiving compensation who is not properly licensed or his vessel not properly inspected (Over six passengers)will be charged with a crime.
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