As the chaotic Bay Area traffic and congestion somehow gets worse every year, the numerous ferry options servicing the Bay Area have thrived. According to the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, ridership on the San Francisco Bay ferry has increased by an incredible 72 percent since 2012. Same goes for the Golden Gate ferry, whose ridership has risen by nearly 45 percent since 2005.
However, as ferries take on more riders, the chance for unfortunate incidents increases as well. In 2014, a ferry coming from Oakland made headlines as it hit a piling at Pier 41, injuring ten people. Among the injuries included neck pain, back pain, and cuts and bruises – but it could have easily been worse. Other, more serious injuries can occur depending on the severity of the accident.
Common Causes of Ferry Boat Accidents
In most cases, ferry boat accidents are caused by human error – be it intentional or unintentional. These causes include:
- Negligence by the operator
- Boating under the influence
- An inexperienced operator
- Inadequate safety measures and/or equipment
- Too many passengers on the ferry boat
- Mechanical failure
- Improper regular maintenance of the ferry
In most of these cases, accidents and injuries could be avoided had the crew and/or the operators done their due diligence.
What Do I Do After I’ve Been Injured?
If you are considering filing a personal injury claim caused by the ferry boat accident, there are some steps you should take to ensure you get adequate compensation.
- If it is a serious accident, and police are at the scene, request a police report as soon as it is available.
- Go to the doctor ASAP. What may seem like bumps and bruises now could develop into something much more serious days later.
- Document any and all evidence. That includes any pictures of the injuries, as well as any pictures of damage to the ferry boat, if possible.
- If possible, get written accounts from witnesses at the scene. Chances are you weren’t the only passenger on the ferry boat when it experienced an accident.
The goal here is to gather as much evidence as possible, so that you have a rock-solid personal injury case.
Who is Liable for My Ferry Boat Accident Injuries?
If you were injured due to a ferry boat accident, you certainly have the grounds for a personal injury claim. Figuring out who is liable can be especially difficult in this situation, as maritime and admiralty laws apply to all accidents that occur on waterways – an admittedly obscure branch of law of which few are aware.
Fortunately, when it comes to accidents and personal injury, the laws are more or less the same – any owner and/or operator of a ferry can be held liable if they displayed negligence or carelessness that may have led to the incident. An operator may be responsible for your injury if they showed a failure to safely operate their vessel, either through inexperience, boating under the influence, or simple carelessness.
The owner of the ferry boat may also be held responsible, especially if there were improper measures in place to ensure passengers were safe. Sub-standard safety measures, irregular maintenance of the ferry, and logistical negligence (e.g. loading too many passengers into the ferry) are all practices that fall solely in the hands of the ferry boat owner.
Any crew members that were affected can also recover compensation for their injuries. Thanks to the Jones Act, any crew members that suffered harm in a ferry boat accident can file a personal injury claim against the “captain” or the owners and operators of the ferry.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Ferry Boat Accident
If you suffered injury due to the negligence or recklessness of a ferry boat owner or operator, you have the right to recover proper compensation. The responsible party should be on the hook for any medical expenses, lost wages, or any other compensation necessary to uphold your quality of life. Because maritime law may become involved in such a case, it’s best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney about your options.