The majority of ferry accidents taking place in the world happen in second and third-world countries. The cause of many of these accidents have to do partly with a combination of overcrowding and lax safety regulations. However, ferry accidents do take place in the United States as well as in the state of California.
One highly publicized California ferry accident took place in San Francisco in 2006 when a Baylink Ferry carrying over 140 passengers lost steering control while backing out of Pier 41 on its way to Vallejo. The ferry struck the wooden pilings of a nearby pier. The jolt of the impact threw nearly all of the passengers who were not seated at the time. Numerous victims were treated at local hospitals for injuries.
It is common for Bay Area tourists and business visitors to become injured in ferry accidents as many take ferry tours so they can see the numerous sites and places of interest. When someone is seriously injured in a ferry accident, the ferry operator and/or captain may be held accountable for unsafe conditions or acts of negligence. However, even when there is clear liability for an accident, it can be difficult for the victim to obtain the compensation they deserve. This is because tour operators, ferry companies and boat owners do all they can to limit their liability. Therefore it’s always best to use the services of a Bay Area personal injury attorney who has experience representing victims of California ferry accidents.
Importance of Hiring a Bay Area Personal Injury Attorney
It is never a good idea to “go it alone” when trying to obtain compensation for injuries you’ve sustained in a ferry accident. The San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Hogan Injury have the experience needed to help you get the compensation you are due for the injuries you suffered. We understand the challenges involved in building a strong case for financial recovery. We have the resources available to thoroughly investigate ferry accidents so we can obtain positive outcomes for our clients. We will handle all the legal aspects of the accident you were involved in while you concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
Liability and Responsibility of Ferry Boat Owners and Captains
The owners and captains of ferry boats are legally responsible for providing safe transport for their passengers. The boats must be inspected on a regular basis for mechanical faults and leaks. The equipment must also be inspected regularly so that any problems pertaining to the steering mechanism, braking system and alarm system are identified early on. A ferry must have enough personal floatation devices for all passengers and crew on board in case a serious accident happens. The captain is responsible for navigating the vessel in a safe manner and should never exhibit reckless or negligent behavior.
In addition to being responsible for keeping the vessel in good condition, the boat owner and captain must also see to it that the number of passengers being transported is within the legal limit. Passenger overload is a leading cause of most serious ferry accidents that happen in other countries, which tragically often result in multiple fatalities. The owner and captain also must be sure that the vessel load including vehicles is within legal limitation. Additionally, the captain and owner are responsible for ensuring that there is the correct number of crew members on board and that they are all properly trained.
Types of Ferry Accidents
In addition to ferries colliding with obstacles such as pier pilings, these boats can also collide with other vessels on the water including other ferry boats, personal watercraft and commercial ships. During inclement weather, passengers can be violently tossed about wherein they suffer serious injuries such as broken bones and head trauma. Slip and fall accidents happen frequently on board ferries due to decks and floors being constantly wet. Ferry passengers and crew members can fall overboard and drown due to inadequate safety measures being in place.
A ferry boat passenger can become the victim of a violent crime while on board such as a brutal robbery or rape committed by a crew member or another passenger. A ferry passenger who is taking his/her vehicle on the vessel can be struck by another vehicle while driving onto or off the ferry, resulting in him or her becoming seriously injured.
These are just some of the different types of accidents that can happen on ferry boats. There may be more than one person or entity responsible for causing a ferry accident which makes the process of collecting compensation all the more challenging.
Common Causes of Ferry Accidents
There are a number of possible causes for California ferry accidents. Some of the most common causes are:
- Operator inattentiveness
- Negligent operation
- Inadequate security
- Inadequate safety measures and procedures
- Mechanical failure
- Failure to keep a proper lookout
- Failure to stay on course
Under law, ferry boats must comply with U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations. This includes making sure that there are enough trained seamen on board, having the right number of floatation devices and rescue boats available for the number of passengers on the ferry and making sure that appropriate preventative measures are taken in order to prevent passengers from falling overboard.
A personal injury case related to a ferry accident is not the type of case you should try to handle on your own. The insurance companies representing the potentially liable parties will work hard to discredit your claim and to down-play the seriousness of your injuries. The insurance adjusters will also try to tempt you into settling your claim for far less than what your injuries and related damages may be worth. Therefore, it is in your best interest to work with a personal injury attorney who has experience handling ferry boat accident claims.