Last Wednesday, on October 31 at roughly 8AM, the ferry GNV Excellent — operated by Italian ferry company Grandi Navi Veloci — collided with a loading crane at Barcelona Port, which caused the crane to be torn away from its foundation. Video footage from the incident shows that the crane fell and smashed a series of containers, causing an immediate blaze to erupt from the point-of-contact. Reports indicate that several of the containers were filled with hazardous chemicals.
Firefighters (and ambulatory personnel) were rushed to the scene, where they used specialty firefighting foam to prevent the diffusion of hazardous chemicals. It was not until 11AM that the blaze was completely put out. No physical injuries have been reported yet, though two persons have already been treated for having suffered from panic attacks in the wake of the collision accident.
We are pleased to learn that the consequences were fairly limited in scope, but disappointed in the actions taken by the operator and crew members of GNV Excellent and how they may have contributed to the collision accident. According to an official statement made by Grandi Navi Veloci, their ferry was attempting to dock when it was pushed off-course (towards the loading crane) by severe sea currents and wind.
Given the circumstances, any persons who were injured by the collision and/or the subsequent fire would likely have an actionable claim for damages.
Vessel Crew Members Must Account for Weather When Attempting to Dock
In the present case, severe weather conditions forced GNV Excellent off-course during its docking procedures, thus leading to the collision. The fact that the weather had such a significant impact on the ability of GNV Excellent to safely dock is not sufficient to shield the operator from liability.
Crew members have a responsibility to operate the ferry in a way that avoids exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm. Here, the crew members — who should have been aware of the weather risks — failed to properly account for the weather conditions. Given the risks, it may have been a safer choice to simply retreat into open water and wait until the weather cleared up before attempting to dock. Failure to engage in an alternative course of action (given the circumstances) could expose the vessel operator to significant civil liability.
We Can Help
If you have been injured in a ferry collision accident, whether the collision occurred while docking, or at-sea, then you may be entitled to bring an action against the ferry operator for damages to compensate you for your various losses. Though weather and other factors may make it quite a bit more difficult for a ferry (or any other vessel) to safely navigate around hazards, crew members must account for the impact of such factors and must take adequate measures to ensure the safety of passengers, as well as those who might be affected on the ground.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A, our maritime attorneys have extensive experience litigating injury claims on behalf of passengers and others who have sustained serious injuries in maritime collision accidents, including those that involve ferries. Though we assist clients with a range of disputes, our primary focus is on maritime and admiralty disputes. As such, we are uniquely well-positioned to successfully advocate for our clients, even when the defendant has substantial resources at their disposal.
Our thorough, aggressive, and client-oriented approach to maritime litigation has served us well over the years. We have not only secured over $200 million in favorable verdicts and settlements, but have been recognized by prestigious national organizations as one of the top law firms in the country in the field of Admiralty and Maritime Law, four consecutive years, with several of our attorneys having been named to Best Lawyers.
Ready to move forward with your claims? Contact Lipcon for further assistance.