Late last week, on the morning of September 1, 2018, a Algerian ro-ro passenger ferry (Tassili II) carrying 1287 passengers and 305 vehicles collided with a Chinese cargo ship (Han Xin) while leaving the port of Oran in Algeria for Alicante, Spain.
According to reports, the collision caused Han Xin — which was berthed at the time — to sustain significant structural damage and push onto the dock. Tassili II, meanwhile, sustained a breach in its starboard side, several meters long. Following the collision, Tassili II managed to stabilize, berth, and safely unload its passengers on the docks. The original journey was delayed for over a day, however, as repairs were made to the hull.
Fortunately, there were no reported fatalities, though it is not currently known whether any passengers suffered injuries due to the collision at-issue.
An investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing. Weather conditions at the time of the collision seem to have been within a normal range, and so negligent conduct — on the part crew aboard Tassili II, or port authorities in Oran — seems likely. In fact, on September 5, the Chief Executive Officer of Oran Port — Mohamed Mazari — was terminated. Though not necessarily dispositive of negligence, it does indicate that the relevant authorities failed to act in a way that could have prevented the collision.
Given the facts of the case, it’s quite likely that injured passengers have an actionable claim against the negligent parties.
Cruise Ships and Ferries Must Be Vigilant When Moving Through Trafficked Waters
Passengers are owed a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances. Crew and port authorities may be found negligent in the event of a collision, depending on the circumstances. The duty of reasonable care requires that vessels moving through busy waters — for example, leaving a port — must be particularly vigilant of their position (and that of other, nearby ships) to ensure that a collision does not occur.
In the present case, the negligence at-issue is particularly egregious, as the facts indicate that Han Xin was berthed at the time of the accident. Exercising reasonable care, Tassili II should have been able to safely navigate through the port and avoid a collision with a static vessel. It is not clear whether Tassili II veered off-course and towards Han Xin due to the failure of operators aboard the ship, or if there were mechanical issues involved. If so, this raises other issues of negligence such as the failure to maintain the vessel.
Alternatively, the port controller may have given Tassili II incorrect information, though it’s worth noting that improper information does not shield the ferry operator from liability — crew members must still exercise reasonable care given the circumstances. If port controllers negligently guided the ship to an impending collision, it is the responsibility of crew aboard Tassili II to recognize the danger and make efforts to avoid it.
We Can Provide Assistance
If you have suffered injuries in a maritime accident — whether the collision involves another vessel, or is simply an environmental collision (i.e., grounding accident) — then you may be entitled to significant damages as compensation for your losses. Ships rarely collide absent extreme weather conditions, or some negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct. As such, those passengers injured in collisions are likely to have actionable claims against the negligent parties.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience advocating on behalf of injured passengers and crew members in disputes against cruise lines, ferry operators, and various other parties, such as port management authorities. Thanks to our extensive experience handling a range of maritime and admiralty claims, we are well-positioned to effectively navigate the complexities of such litigation and secure maximum compensation for our clients.
The accident at-issue in the present case involved an Algerian passenger ferry and a Chinese cargo ship, both of which collided at the Port of Oran, in Algerian waters. Though the global nature of this accident may give some claimants pause, the reality is that injured passengers are entitled to damages for losses that are attributable to another’s negligence — no matter where the accident occurred. Here at Lipcon, our attorneys have successfully litigated claims in courtrooms throughout the United States and around the world.
Would you like to discuss your claims with a qualified attorney? Contact an experienced maritime lawyer at Lipcon today. We look forward to assisting you with your claims.