Boating Accident Lawyers
Nationwide Attorneys Representing Victims of Tour Boats, Cruise Ships,
Ferries, and Duck Boats
Boating accidents have devastating consequences for victims and their families.
Companies that own and operate tour boats, cruise ships, ferries, and
duck tour boats are required to maintain their vessels in proper condition, provide life-saving
devices such as life jackets for passengers, and ensure compliance with
maritime law and applicable regulations.
Tragically, unethical operators choose to put profit ahead of safety by:
- Failing to properly maintain boats in their fleet.
- Failing to operate boats in a safe manner.
- Failing to cancel tours when dangerous conditions are forecast.
- Failing to clearly inform passengers where safety gear can be found and
how to use it.
- Failing to properly train crewmembers.
- Failing to make passenger safety the primary consideration.
If a vessel owner or operator puts lives in danger through negligent, careless
or reckless actions (or inactions), they can be held liable for any personal
injury or wrongful death that happens as a result. At Wisner Baum, we
have decades of experience fighting on behalf of boating accident victims
nationwide, and we can help you seek justice after you suffer serious
injuries. Based in California, our attorneys can take on cases nationwide.
Contact us at
(855) 948-5098 today for a
Types of Boat Accidents
Tour Boat Accidents
Tour boats are a way for people to see the sights in exciting locations.
Areas near the ocean, rivers or lakes offer water taxis, charter boat
rentals, duck boat tours, swamp tours, fishing tours, whale watching,
scuba and snorkeling tours, and more. Tour boat operators owe a duty of
care to ensure the safety of their passengers.
Any negligence can turn an otherwise fun activity into tragedy. Below are
some common results of tour boat operator negligence:
Wrongful death. Passengers aboard tour boats must be offered some level of protection
against drowning in the event of an accident. This includes railings and
barriers to keep passengers from going overboard, and access to certified
life vests or other floatation devices.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal injury. Head and neck injuries are common if a tour boat collides with another
vessel, as most, if not all passengers are not wearing safety belts.
Fire and burn injury. Fires on boats are catastrophic as they can spread quickly, and passengers
have little time to react with minimal escape routes. Boat owners and
operators must ensure all on board have a means of escape and that fire
suppression systems are present, functional and easily accessible.
Other personal injuries. Passengers may sustain broken bones, lacerations or other personal injuries
if they are standing or walking on the tour boat while it maneuvers through
Dive Boat Accidents
Dive boats, sometimes referred to as scuba boats, take people out for diving
excursions. These excursions can be as short as a few hours or several
days long and can involve people with a range of experience, from beginners
to highly experienced divers. Depending on the size of the dive boat,
tours can take dozens of people at a time and may include gourmet meals,
sleeping berths, and ecological presentations.
As with all boats, dive boats can be the scene of great tragedy. Tour boat
owners, operators, and crew are responsible for passenger safety, including
ensuring that the boat is seaworthy, that all Coast Guard safety rules
and regulations have been met, that there are no unreasonable defects
or hazards on the boat, that all exits are easily accessible, and that
passengers are not put at any unnecessary risk of harm, including death.
Lava Boat Accidents
In Hawaii, for example, lava tour boats are common. Lava boats allow tourists
to see different perspectives of volcanoes or views of hot lava entering
the ocean. While these boat excursions may offer excitement for passengers,
they do come with some level of danger.
On July 16, 2018, a tour boat operated by Lava Ocean Tours was hit by a
chunk of lava off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. Nearly two dozen
people sustained injuries in the Hawaii tour boat accident. Our firm was
retained by several victims of this preventable tragedy.
Duck Boat Accidents
Duck Boats are amphibious vehicles that can travel over land or water.
While they were initially designed for use in WWII, they are now used
for recreational purposes to take sightseers around tourist destinations,
offering different perspectives from both land and water.
After numerous fatalities in Duck Boat accidents, the National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) recommended changes to Duck Boat designs, including
removing the canopy, which can trap passengers if a Duck Boat takes on water.
Among the multiple-fatality accidents involving Duck Boats:
1999 Arkansas: 13 people died when a Duck Boat sank
2015 Washington: 5 people died and 44 were injured when an improperly-maintained Duck Boat
collided with a tour bus in Seattle
2018 Missouri: 17 people died when a Duck Boat sank on Table Rock Lake in Branson
In 2016, Wisner Baum filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of the five victims
killed in a majoor 2015 Duck Boat accident in Seattle. The wrongful death
lawsuit alleged the Duck Boat vehicle involved in the collision had a
known defect in the axle, which caused the driver to lose control and
veer into oncoming traffic.
The lawsuit alleged that Ride the Ducks Seattle, the Duck Boat operator
involved in the Seattle accident, was negligent in many respects, including
but not limited to:
- Failing to properly inspect, maintain and repair the Duck Boat vehicle.
- Failing to use reasonable care to detect and remedy hazardous defects.
- Failing to address a 2013 safety notice issued by Ride the Ducks International.
- Failing to properly train and supervise its mechanics and drivers.
- Operating an unsafe, dangerous and defective Duck Boat vehicle on a state
highway known to have inadequate lane width to accommodate the Duck Boat.
- Requiring drivers to function as both tour guides and drive its vehicles
In 2016, Ride the Ducks International (RTDI), the manufacturer of the duck
boat vehicle involved in the Seattle crash, agreed to pay up to $1 million
in civil fines for violating federal safety regulations. RTDI failed to
notify federal transportation officials and issue a recall after discovering
a potential defect on the front axles of its duck boats.
“Duck Boat vehicles were not originally designed for recreational
tourist excursions, especially with large groups,” says attorney
Timothy A. Loranger, who represented victims from the 2015 Duck Boat crash
in Seattle. “Yet despite numerous safety lapses, these amphibious
vehicles continue to operate in cities throughout the country…it
Three years after the tragic crash, 43 victims who were injured or killed
in the Seattle duck boat crash were finally able to present their cases
to a jury. The trial lasted for months and included more than a week of
deliberations. In the end, the jury found that Ride the Ducks and Ride
the Ducks International were negligent in the 2015 Seattle Duck Boat crash
and awarded $123 million to victims and their families.
Cruise Ship Accidents
Cruise ships offer excursions and activities at ports of call, including
sightseeing bus tours and charter boat trips. While cruise companies may
tell passengers that they have performed the due diligence of vetting
the excursion vendors they contract with, when disaster strikes, passengers
often find that the cruise ship’s promise of safety was far from
Cruise lines usually tout the tours they offer at various ports of call.
But, when a passenger is injured on a tour, they hasten to distance themselves
from the company operating the tour. The fine print on cruise ship contracts
asserts that cruise companies are not actually vouching for cruise ship
excursion operators, nor do they view them as agents affiliated with the
cruise company. To the contrary, when excursion accidents happen, cruise
companies trot out the fine print to inform its injured passenger that,
“unfortunately”, they have nothing to do with the tour, that
the tour operators providing onshore services are independent contractors.
Another way that cruise lines make it difficult for injured passengers
(or their families) to hold them responsible is through a provision buried
in the fine print, usually only understood by lawyers known as a “forum
selection clause.” This provision allows cruise companies to select
the location where a potential product liability, personal injury, or
wrongful death lawsuit can be filed.
How does this help shield cruise lines from liability? The forum selection
clause might require claims to be decided in a state far from the residence
of passengers or their family, or even in some foreign country. This creates
a burden for most that often discourages people from pursuing their rights.
Ferry boats are often used to transport passengers, frequently over a short
distance. Transportation authorities might use them to transport commuters
across a harbor, between islands, or for short sightseeing trips.
In 2010, a Staten Island captain lost control of the boat as it approached
the St. George terminal too fast. Consequently, in violently crashed into
the pier. Approximately 40 people were taken to local hospitals following
the ferry crash. Seven years before, the same ferry missed a dock and
crashed into a maintenance pier while traveling at full speed. Eleven
people died and 70 more were injured.
Contact us at
(855) 948-5098 today to discuss your legal options. Our attorneys are available for a
no-obligation consultation to answer your questions and explain your rights.