Ferry boats worldwide give all kinds of people mobility. Many people rely on these boats to get across waterways that are not traversed by roads or bridges. Some of these boats ferry people only, while other larger vessels take people and their cars across rivers, lakes, bays, and other waterways. Some people use ferries every day to get to work or school, while others are more commonly used by vacationers.
Ferry accidents are disturbingly common and come up in the news describing tragic crashes and vessels sinking. Passengers may lose their lives in these incidents, and ferry workers are too often lost or injured as well. If you work on or near ferries, you may be entitled to compensation if you get injured on the job. In the worst case scenario, your dependent loved ones may be able to get compensation.
The news is too often full of tragic ferry accidents and no part of the world is immune to these incidents. Ferry boats are a great way to get around and allow people to access locations they wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise, but this kind of travel comes with risks for both passengers and workers. A lot of states and countries with waterways turn to ferries for travel because they are less expensive than building roads and bridges. Unfortunately when accidents happen with, they make the news because fatalities are common in these tragic mistakes:
- South Korea, 2014. It’s hard to forget this tragic ferry accident because it resulted in the loss of more than 260 lives, mostly young students. The large ferry boat sank off the southwest coast of South Korea as it ferried the students and other passengers to a resort island. Excess and improperly stowed cargo was found to be the cause of the accident, according to an investigation.
- New York, 2013. Fortunately in this Staten Island ferry collision with its terminal in Manhattan, no one was killed or seriously injured. Workers reported a loss of steering control, which caused the collision and moderate damage to the boat and terminal.
- North Carolina, 2013. A ferry ran aground close to Battery Island causing more than a dozen injuries to passengers and ferry workers. Luckily no one was killed in this accident.
- Philippines, 2013. When a ferry disaster occurred in the Philippines, over 50 people lost their lives. The ferry, which was supposed to stay in a designated channel, changed its navigation and collided with another vessel. The Philippines relies on ferries for transportation between its many islands and has had many disasters, including at least 14 with fatalities since 1990
- Alaska, 2012. Not all ferry accident cause injuries to the people aboard. In Alaska, a longshore worker suffered several injuries while loading cargo onto a ferry.
What Causes Ferry Accidents?
Clearly ferry accidents can cause ferry worker injuries, passenger injuries, and both worker and passenger fatalities in the most tragic situations. What is to blame in these incidents? It is rare that no preventable cause can be found, which means that there is nearly always some type of negligence involved. The owner of a ferry is responsible for taking all measures to ensure the safety of passengers and workers; and if something is missed and an accident results they can be held accountable.
One reason a ferry accident may occur that is no one’s fault is bad weather. Some ferries ply dangerous waters and if weather causes an accident there may or may not be negligence involved. Even when nature is to blame for an accident, the captain or employer may still be negligent. The ferry should not run if weather is too inclement. Workers on the ferry should be trained to keep passengers safe when weather is bad. If these precautions aren’t taken, negligence could be to blame in a weather-related accident.
Other common reasons for ferry accidents are clearly negligent. These include operators of the ferry being intoxicated, poor maintenance of the ferry and its equipment, improper training of workers, overloading ferries with cargo or improperly storing cargo aboard the ferry, fatigued workers falling asleep on the job, or mechanical failures. The ferry may also become unsafe when overloaded with passengers.
Ferry Worker Injuries
Even when there is no tragic ferry accident, it is not uncommon for ferry workers to suffer injuries on the job. Bad weather can cause hypothermia or frostbite if workers are not given adequate protective gear or time to come in from the cold and take a break. Long working hours can lead to fatigue and mistakes that cause accidents.
Faulty or improperly maintained equipment may cause workers to slip and fall or have other accidents that cause injuries like broken bones, wounds, head injuries, back and neck injuries, or even lost limbs. Ferries often carry cargo in addition to human passengers, and cargo can be a cause of accidents and injuries. Cargo that isn’t stored well can move and cause injuries. Cargo that includes toxic materials could lead to dangerous exposure and illness in a worker.
Legal Help and Compensation for Ferry Worker Injuries
If you work aboard a ferry or on the dock in a ferry terminal you may qualify according to one or more federal maritime laws to get compensation for your injuries endured on the job. If you qualify as a seaman and you believe that negligence caused your injury you can make a claim through the Jones Act. This law protects all seamen and gives you an avenue for claiming compensation if your employer is denying you that right.
If you work at the terminal, but contribute to the operation of the ferry, you may qualify for the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This federal workers’ compensation program protects those working in the risky maritime industry, but who do not qualify as seamen. If faulty safety equipment, poor training, or anything else caused you to be injured on the job, you can claim compensation through this program.
In the unfortunate situation in which a ferry accident leads to fatalities, the loved ones of deceased ferry workers may also be able to claim compensation thanks to these federal laws governing the maritime industry. To help you navigate these confusing laws, you can rely on the assistance of an experienced maritime lawyer. This is a professional who knows the laws inside and out and who has helped other maritime workers get the compensation they needed. You too can get the money you are owed if you have the right person on your side guiding you and representing you in the event that your claim goes to arbitration to trial in front of a jury or a judge.