Although it has been two-and-a-half years since the ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald, many crew members continue to suffer complications of their injuries to this day. We proudly represent maritime clients nationwide who are suffering as a result of this collision, and encourage them to call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or complete our online contact form today.

Who Is Responsible for the Collision?

Maritime Helicopter Rescue After the USS Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal CollisionWhen it comes to determining liability for this incident—or any maritime injury—attorneys must abide by the laws of negligence. In this case, there are rules and procedures that should have been followed by the ACX Crystal, both in order to avoid a collision and to warn the vessel ahead if a collision cannot be avoided.

So far, lawsuits and judgments have placed liability on:

  • The crew of the ACX Crystal. According to investigations and court documents, the ACX Crystal was on autopilot “until just prior to impact.” However, the container ship did not make any attempt to hail the U.S. Navy destroyer, nor did it sound at least five short blasts off the horn. Although watchstanders on the ACX Crystal came out of autopilot and initiated a turn to starboard, the maneuver was made too late to have any effect.
  • NYK Line. As one of the largest shipping conglomerates in the world and the sole charterer of the ACX Crystal, the company has a duty to ensure its crews are competent and properly trained in international navigation procedures to prevent collisions at sea.
  • The owners of the ACX Crystal. Earlier this year, ACX Crystal’s owners, Olympic Steamship Company, S.A., Panama, agreed to pay the U.S. government $26.7 million as part of a settlement agreement under Japanese law. The agreement guarantees the finds without any admission of negligence, breach of duty, or wrongdoing by the ship’s owners. However, the settlement is intended for use by the U.S. government, not as injury compensation for the crew.

It is painfully clear that this collision was a preventable tragedy. If you are a service member who was aboard the USS Fitzgerald when it was struck, you may be owed a recovery from the shipping line. However, you must file your claim within 3 years from the date of the accident. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or complete our online contact form today to set up your free case evaluation.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.
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