It’s only been a little over a year since Hong Kong experienced one of the worst boating accidents in 40 years, and now, a new ferry crash has left 85 people injured, leaving authorities to question the safety of the city’s harbor once more. The accident occurred late last month when a ferry that was heading to Macau from Hong Kong crashed into an unidentified object shortly after 1 am. The vessel, a high-speed hydrofoil, was transporting 105 passengers and 10 crew members at the time of the accident. There was no major damage to the ferry and so the vessel was able to sail back into port, but the majority of people onboard were hurt. Was negligence to blame?
The experienced boating accident attorneys at our law firm know that unfortunately, the majority of major maritime crashes can be prevented and are usually caused by someone’s negligent actions. Speeding, recklessness, failing to pay attention to surroundings, and intoxication are all factors that can play a role in an accident in open waters. Though these circumstances have all contributed to accidents involving personal vessels, when the person that’s to blame for a crash is the pilot of a public transportation ferry, things get even more complicated.
Ferry boat operators – just like the operators of any commercial vessel or cruise line – must abide by the strictest safety standards to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. When it comes to ferry boats, there usually isn’t much protection for passengers and when there’s no protection, coupled with pilot inexperience and other negligent factors, a disaster is bound to happen.
We don’t yet know the cause of this particular ferry crash, but what we do know is that seven of the victims required hospital care and one was in serious condition. What we also know is that it seems Hong Kong residents are used to accidents involving public transportation vessels, because some of the victims interviewed had no qualms about getting right back on the ferry and continuing their journey.
Hong Kong’s harbor is one of the busiest in the world. As such, the safety features both in port and which commercial vessel operators employ should be that much higher. Unfortunately, accidents continue to occur, many of which produce devastating consequences. No one was killed in this particular crash, but last year’s collision will go down in history as one of the most tragic Hong Kong has ever seen.
Last October, a high-speed ferry collided with a party boat in Victoria Harbour, killing 39 people. The party boat, the Lamma IV, was transporting around 120 employees of the Hong Kong Electric Company who were celebrating National Day when the ferry boat struck the vessel. The Lamma IV sank nearly immediately following the impact.
Following an investigation, several crew members were arrested after authorities determined they did not follow proper maritime safety law and further investigation has revealed a “litany of errors” committed by operators on both vessels. The captains of the party boat and the ferry are both awaiting trial after being charged with manslaughter.
But despite these dire circumstances, Hong Kong residents and tourists alike are not concerned about getting back on transportation ferries, like the one that crashed last month. The particular ferry that transports passengers to Macau and back is one of the main routes for residents and tourists. Because Macau is the only city in all of China where gambling is legal, the ferry experiences a lot of traffic. Over 1.5 million tourists traveled into the city in the last month alone, and most of them do so by ferry because there aren’t too many alternatives.
After the accident, several victims were interviewed and their reactions were pretty much all the same. They will continue to take the ferry, and one victim even admitted that the accident doesn’t even affect his ideas about ferry travel.
“These are just accidents,” said Hong Kong resident Sam Yau. “I don’t think there’s a problem at all. It doesn’t affect my confidence in taking ferries.”
When passengers know to expect danger and don’t care, that’s when you know a harbor and ferry operator’s maritime safety laws need to be amended immediately. Victims should not be ok with this disaster and should seek legal help with a boating accident lawyer to discuss their options in filing a personal injury case. If negligence on the operator’s part is to blame, and most likely it is, then victims may be looking at compensation – especially those who were injured to the point they required medical attention at area hospitals.
We see accidents like this all the time here in Miami, but not all victims fully understand what their rights are. When an accident occurs on land that results in an injury, most victims’ reactions will be to contact authorities and then contact an attorney. The same goes for accidents in the open waters. There are strict safety laws that all operators must abide by in order to prevent collisions with other vessels and with inanimate objects. When these laws are violated, those responsible must be held accountable, especially when an injury or death results from their negligent actions. Even when the damage is minor, boating accident victims should know they can always turn to an attorney for help and to discuss their rights.