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Injured On A Ferry Boat? What To Do Next

Any type of boat accident is scary.


Being involved in a ferry boat or tour boat accident is unfortunately a memorable experience, even when the injuries are not severe. But now what? If you were hurt aboard a ferry then you are likely looking for answers regarding what to do next, who can be help responsible, how liability determinations are made, what law applies, and well, you're come to the right place looking for answers!


This guide was composed by ferry boat accident lawyer Niles Sneed to help you best understand the legal complexities involved in lawsuits involving passenger vessels, and what you can expect when pursuing a settlement award against a vessel operator, owner, or manufacturer. Protecting your health, wellbeing, and rights, from the scene of the accident to the weeks later is important to being a claim for compensation.


Inured on a ferry boat what to do next

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The steps to follow after being hurt aboard a ferry


The steps you take you take immediately after being hurt on a ferry are important towards protecting your health and legal rights. Although the law requires ferry boat operators to take reasonable steps to safeguard their passengers, negligence is a common occurrence - from hiring inadequate staff, to making sure the boat is up to code. But, your premier concern after the accident should be focused on protecting your health and wellbeing.


After a ferry boat injury occurs, victims and their families should:

  • Notify authorities. The first and most important thing to do after an injury is to notify the boat director, an officer or crewman that you were hurt. If possible, try to also remember their name and ask for their assistance obtaining medical care.

  • Request medical care. Even if your injuries appear minor, request to see the ship’s medical doctor. Some passenger ships don't have a doctor, but might have a nurse or paramedic. If the injuries are severe, the ferry captain or director can initiate an emergency transfer or have an ambulance waiting for you while at the dock.

  • Request an investigation. Ask that a the director investigate what happened and how the accident could have been prevented.

  • Call 911 once docket. If you feel the boats response to your injuries is less than adequate, you should contact the police, who have an investigator sent to the next port of call, or send a responding officer sent to the ferry destinations.

  • Collect evidence. In ferry boat accident cases, passengers are required to prove negligence in order to be awarded compensation. Therefore, you should write down all the details you can remember about the accident, including time, location, whether there were any witnesses, and the conditions around you.

  • Take Pictures: Only if it is safe to do so, take pictures of any conditions that caused on contributed in causing your accident to happen. You should also take progression photos of your injuries over time.

  • Look For Cameras: If there are any surveillance cameras near the area where you were injured, note the number of cameras so that you a maritime lawyer can later request all relevant footage.

  • Read your ticket. When ferry boat passengers purchase a ticket for transports, they is generally and agreement to terms somewhere in small print. These stipulations could be important in determining which state and law pertains to your injury claim.

  • Contact a ferry boat accident attorney. An experienced offshore injury lawyer can explain when a ferry boat operators are liable for injuries caused by staff, improper lighting, improper training, and other forms of negligence.

These are the immediate basic steps you should follow after being injured aboard a ferry boat. Failure to take any of these steps could impact your right to compensation. But, in situations of catastrophic injury your only priority should be obtaining emergency care. Is no one aboard the boat is responding to your needs, call 911 and allow the police to handle the situation.


What qualifies as a ferry boat accident?


A “Ferry Boat Accident'' involves any unfortunate incident that a passenger, guest, or employee experiences unexpectedly aboard the ferry. Ferry boat accidents typically result in damage or injury involving a wide range of claims occurring on private ferries, tour boats and charter vessels, including:

  • Physical or sexual assault (“rape”) by a by a worker or passenger,

  • Slip and fall accidents in wet or slippery substances,

  • Trip and fall injuries caused by uneven walkways,

  • Food poisonings incidents causing severe illness, employees,

  • Food poisonings incidents causing severe illness

  • Amputation due to swinging doors and hatches due to heavy seas.,

  • Serious injuries caused by dangerous weather conditions,

  • Head trauma from boat crashes or collisions, groundings, and poor docking,

  • Deaths and lesser injuries due to the boat's degree of unseaworthiness,

  • Overboard accidents and disappearances

How common are ferry boat accidents?


Experts at the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association say somewhere between 800 and 1,000 die in ferry accidents annually. Although major catastrophes rarely occur in Texas, residents and visitors could be injured aboard these transportation vessels. Many factors may contribute to a ferry boat accident, but usually they are caused due to another person’s negligence.


What are common causes of ferry boat accidents?


Ferry boat accidents have many possible cause, but the following are some of the main reasons these incidents occur


Mechanical failure


A boat that is not properly maintained has the potential to harm passengers as well as crew members. Ferry boat companies must engage in year-round boat maintenance to detect and repair any mechanic issues.


Overloaded vessels


The Galveston Ferry is strong enough to ship 18-wheelers across the Gulf. However, the slightest miscalculation in total weight of the boat could trigger a capsize event.


Improper maintenance


Faulty railing can be a major contributor to overboard accidents and drowning. As with other watercrafts, Ferry boats owners

must also ensure the engine, electrical system, plumbing and HVAC, canvass and upholstery, and boat hall are all properly maintenance.


Adverse weather conditions


Increment weather conditions within the Gulf of Mexico and similar bodies of water must be accounted for when getting residents and visitors to their final destinations. Severe weather conditions often provide little warning, forcing Ferry boat operators to always pay close attention to weather forecasts.


Intoxicated operators


Operating a vessel with under the influence of drugs or alcohol or a criminal and civil offence, drinking and driving is a dangerous offense, punishable by law. Negligent operation of Ferry leads to extensive injury, drowning incidents, and even fatalities that were avoidable consequences if not for the operator’s reckless conduct.


The attorneys of Sneed & Mitchell have a deep understanding of maritime law. We’ve handled a wide variety of cases for injured passengers and workers in the maritime industry. If you’ve been injured in a ferry boat accident, you want dedicated legal representation. No matter the specifics of your accident, we’re available to assist you and always offer 100% free case evaluations.


How is liability determined in a ferry boat accident?


Liability in recreational boat accidents is divided into three categories: (1) violation of safety rules; (2) failure to follow customary practices in the area; and, (3) failure to follow general seamanship practices and reasonable care standards.


Violation of safety rules. Safety standards are set in place by admiralty law, the Jones Act, and OSHA, which are both federal bodies of law that allow for civil prosecution against the at-fault entity when violations occur. These strict standards create the presumption that the violator is liable for your resulting injuries, unless they prove that their company, employees, and agents in no way contributed in causing your injuries, even to the slightest degree.


Some of these safety rules include;

  • Having proper licensing

  • Maintaining proper lighting

  • Following all navigational rules

  • Watching the radar

  • Keeping passenger areas free of hazards

  • Maintaining safe speeds

Failure to follow customary practices. The second way liability is imposed is if the ferry boat operator didn't follow, or wasn't aware of, customary practices in the accident area. Customs are different than law in that customs do not trigger a rebuttable presumption. However, violations of a custom still deem the boat owner liable.


Failure to follow reasonable Care standards. Lastly, in cases where no law or customary practice was violated, a boat owned can still be held responsible for failing to act with reasonable care. This analysis is an objective and subjective test that allows the jury or deciding body to weigh the actions of the ferry owner or its employees and decide weather the acts or omissions were prudent under the circumstance.


Who can be held responsible in a ferry boat accident?


Depending on the facts surrounding the accident and its cause, there can be any number of parties responsible for a boat related injury. Potentially responsible parties include:

  • Ferry operators

  • Ferry owner

  • Ferry manufacturer

  • Boating equipment manufacture

  • Dock or marine owner

If is often difficult to determine who to sue, or include as a defendant in a maritime lawsuit. This is why you should consult with an attorney experienced at handling offshore litigation. In every situation, the plaintiff must prove that a "reasonably safe careful ship operator" would not have engaged the acts and omissions that contributed in causing their injuries. Many times, proving this requires the legal professional to retain an expert witness familiar with admiralty and Jones Act Claims.


What types of injuries often happen aboard ferries?


People involved in boating accidents suffer a wide range of injuries. Some victims of boating accidents escape with minor cuts and bruises while others barely escape with their lives.


Common boating accident injuries may include:

  • Broken bones. Broken bones are common in any boat collision accident.

  • Burns and explosions. Combustible materials, including fuel, on boats, may ignite quickly in a significant collision resulting in severe burns, scarring, and disability. A burn injury lawyer from our firm can help after you’ve sustained serious burns from a boat crash.

  • Spinal cord injuries. Passengers and crewmembers often suffer serious spinal trauma when the craft crashes or there are conditions aboard that result in the person experiencing blunt force trauma.

  • Crush injuries. A crush injury is caused when strong, compressing force is sustained to a party of the body. The crushing experience often severe medical complications, include organ failure, internal bleeding, tissue death, and blood vessel ruptures. organs to rupture, bones to fracture, and blood vessels to burst.

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries. Traumatic head injuries are often caused by the Ferry crashing at high speeds. Brain injuries range in intensity, but can cause severe medical complications such as paralysis, oxygen deprivation, or death.

  • Amputation. Limb loss cause be caused by a person’s contact with a propeller or fan, these complications can also occur if the victim suffers a crush injury.

  • Lacerations. Propellers, ladders, or sharp objects on board the boat or in the water may cause lacerations.

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This stress disorder is a common form of emotional distress that arises when a person has a near-death experience.

Victims of boating accidents are sometimes traumatized by the experience and left with mental and emotional scars throughout their lives.


What damages can I recover after a ferry accident?


The types of harm you suffer will determine what damages are potentially available to you. However, the following is just a partial list of what you could potentially recover:


● Medical expenses,

● Future medical needs,

● Lost wages,

● Future Lost earnings,

● Pain and suffering,

● Funeral expenses,

● Loss of companionship,

● Property damage,


Exactly what you may recover for will depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the harm you experienced. It takes an experienced skilled Houston boat accident attorney to fully identify the full extent of your potential legal recovery.


How can a boat accident attorney help me?


A Houston boat accident attorney will assist you in all aspects of your claim. The attorney are with you from start to finish to answer all of your questions and provide any access to support and resources you may need.


Additionally, our boat accident lawyers may do any of the following:

  • Investigate your claim

  • Research the other parties boating history and credentials

  • Interview any witnesses

  • Visit the scene of the accident

  • Use expert witnesses to assess medical damages and any losses

  • Negotiate aggressively for full and fair compensation

  • If necessary, take your case to trial

There is a two-year time limit to file most boating accident claims in Texas. Therefore, if you or a loved one was injured while aboard a ferry boat, tour boat, or charter, contacting an attorney that specializes in boat accident litigation claims is important towards understanding your legal options.


How can I stay safe aboard a ferry?


Although you can't predict an emergency aboard a ferry, you can be better prepared to handle any situation. As a ferried passenger, on of the best aids to decrease your safety risks is to follow the ferry rules established by the Texas Department of Transportation. Although some rules might seem, others, such as which part of the deck you should feed the seagulls from, are less obvious.


The safety rules change slightly from port to port, but general safety tips include:

  • Not smoking aboard the ferry

  • Always accompany any small children on the deck

  • Not sitting on or leaning the rails of the ferry boat

  • No throwing trash overboard or littering

  • Always follow the directions of the deck hands

  • Do not tamper with any lifesaving device

A full list of rules for all Texas ferries can be found on the Department of Transportation website.


Each ferry should also equipped with proper floatation devices for passengers. If an emergency occurs onboard, it’s important to follow the directives imperative of the captain or any crewmembers. Your sole priority should be to remain safe and our of harm's way. Any passenger behaving recklessly could be barred from riding the ferry in the future and possibly prosecuted.


How can I find an attorney that handles ferry boat accidents?


Locating an attorney that litigates claims involving ferries boat litigation requires diligence and sometimes even a bit of patience as so many attorney claim to handle boating accident claims. First, you need to gather a list of potential lawyers. Look online and also ask any friends of colleagues if they have a reference for you. Second, once you have a list of possible law firm, you have to comparison-shop. During a free consultation with each attorney you should ask about their experience handling ferry boat accident lawsuits and what percentage of these cases were victorious. If the settlement was not confidential then the attorney can also give you the settlement or verdict amount. Third, you should discuss what happened aboard the ferry boat and gather the attorney's opinion on liability. Next, and most importantly, you should ask the attorney the name of his case experts. Without hesitation an experienced attorney can not only give you names, but also stories about prior cases involving his experts. There are experiences a trial attorney just doesn't forget. Engaging in these conversations weeds out those posing to be experienced offshore maritime lawyers.


When searching, add my law firm, Sneed & Mitchell, to your list of potential candidates. Getting injured in a ferry boat accident can be just as confusing as it is frustrating and painful. Myself and my team of maritime attorneys at Sneed & Mitchell can help answer questions you may have about ferry boat accidents, including how to determine who is at fault and if any compensation can be recovered. In order to uncover your legal option, we offer free, no-obligation case evaluations.


If you or a loved one has been injured aboard a ferry, call us today at (866) 434-0014 or by filing our an online meeting request. From our four convenient officer we assist clients nationwide. We also don't change for our confidential consultations and handle each case on a contingency free, meaning you owe us nothing until we win on your behalf.

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