On Friday, November 23 at roughly 2:30PM PST, passenger ferry MS San Francisco — owned and operated by Golden Gate Ferry — crashed into the docks at the Ferry Building, a popular destination for both tourists and locals (located at the northern end of the highly-trafficked Embarcadero walk). MS San Francisco was nearing the end of its journey from Larkspur when it smashed into a ticketing booth at one end of the docks, then continued on until it collided with a guardrail near one of the ferry gates. The guardrail ruptured the hull of MS San Francisco and forced it to a complete stop.
According to initial media reports, two passengers were injured in the accident — one with a back injury and another with a hip injury. No bystanders on the docks were injured. US Coast Guard investigators are currently investigating the cause of the accident. As required in all such incidents, the Captain and crew members were drug tested soon after the collision, though results have yet to be released to the public.
We are quite disturbed by the events that took place here. The Ferry Building (and the docks behind the building) is a busy area of the city, with significant foot-traffic. MS San Francisco could have wrought extreme devastation had the guardrail not held. Further, it seems that the Captain and crew members aboard MS San Francisco did not even warn passengers of the impending collision — passengers noted that they did not have time to brace themselves for impact. Regardless of cause, it is without doubt that the crew should have realized that the collision was inevitable, and a warning should have been given to minimize the risk of injury.
Given the circumstances, it’s likely that the injured passengers have a legitimate claim for damages against Golden Gate Ferry.
Variety of Factors Can Cause a Ferry Collision
When Captain and crew members — of a ferry, cruise ship, tanker, container ship, etc. — fail to exercise reasonable care in their operation of their vessel, and in doing so cause others to suffer injuries, then the vessel operator may be held liable for the losses under maritime and admiralty law.
Most such accidents can be avoided so long as the crew carefully adhere to the processes and standards imposed on them by their training. In the present case, there was no indication that weather conditions were poor or that visibility was an issue — as such, it appears that the accident was not justified by the circumstances. Thus it appears that the captain and crew were negligent and failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. There are numerous ways in which the captain and crew could have been negligent, all of which give rise to liability.
They include, but are not necessarily limited, to:
- Failure to maintain proper lookout
- Inadequate training or supervision
- Failure to properly maintain ferry equipment
- Failure to communicate to harbor authorities
- And more
For example, if there was a mechanical defect that contributed to the accident, then it’s possible that crew members failed to adequately inspect the ferry equipment to ensure that it was in good working order. If they actually discovered defects, then it is their duty to correct such defects so as not to expose others to an unreasonable risk of harm.
We Can Provide Legal Assistance
If you’ve been injured in a ferry or boating accident, then you may be entitled to bring a lawsuit against the vessel owner and operator for significant damages to compensate you for your losses.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our team of attorneys has over a century of combined trial experience litigating injury claims on behalf of those who have suffered harm in various maritime and admiralty-related accidents, including passengers.
Unlike many of our competitors, we have a client-oriented focus — from the beginning of the engagement process, we work closely with clients to ensure that the lines of communication remain open and active. This ensures that we have the information necessary to more aggressively represent their interests during litigation. Our unique approach has earned us substantial success over the years. Since our founding, we have secured over $200 million in favorable verdicts and settlements for our clients.
Ready to speak to one of our experienced maritime lawyers about your case? Contact Lipcon to request an appointment. We look forward to assisting you.