Highlighting the unsuspected perils of traveling aboard commercial ships and ferries, the whale watching vessel Adventure Hornblower collided with the Embarcadero Pier in San Diego on Thursday afternoon. The Hornblower company is currently investigating the cause of the crash, which apparently was due to mechanical error (a throttle becoming stuck in the forward position). Seven people were taken to area hospitals with minor head, neck, or back injuries.
Though rare, boating accidents do sometimes take place. There are a number of commercial ferries and whale watching companies operating out of San Diego and other coastal Californian cities. If there is an accident due to mechanical or human error, and that accident injures you or your loved ones, and accident took place due to someone’s negligence or misconduct, then you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.
The Liability of Common Carriers
Passenger airlines, tour bus companies, and sightseeing ferries all fall under the same transportation category. They are “common carriers,” conveying people and goods to predetermined destinations for set rates. That being said, these private companies are not above the law. Airlines, for example, are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. There are a variety of regulatory bodies at the local, state, and federal levels designed to ensure the good conduct of common carriers and the safety of passengers. Common carriers have a duty to transport their passengers in the safest possible manner, making caution their number-one priority.
Common carriers can be held financially liable for accident-related injuries if they were negligent in their maintenance or operating procedures, or if they failed to take the reasonable precautions in adverse conditions. If a tour bus driver fails to warn his passengers to buckle up and then crashes into another car and injures several of his riders, then he and his company may be required to pay financial damages to the injured parties.
Liability is sometimes difficult to determine in common carrier accidents. What the question of liability boils down to is whether the potentially liable parties were aware of a dangerous condition or not. In the case of the Hornblower whale watching vessel accident, if it comes to light that improper maintenance was performed on the Adventure Hornblower or that the captain or crew was negligent in their safety checks, the company will be liable for any damages or medical bills claimed by passengers.
To prove that you were injured by a common carrier’s negligence, the following conditions must be met:
- The carrier committed a breach of conduct (for example, an airline captain failed to switch on the “fasten seat belt” sign before entering heavy turbulence).
- This misconduct was a factor in your injury (you would not have been hurt if the carrier hadn’t been negligent).
- You were harmed by the accident—physically hurt, emotionally distressed, or suffered a loss of wages, income, or lifestyle.
Estey Bomberger Can Help You
Common carrier accidents are fortunately rare, but if one happens to you, you should act quickly to preserve your rights. From personal injury to wrongful death, the accident and personal injury attorneys at Estey Bomberger stand ready to help you. Contact us today.