Just two days ago, on Monday, May 13, two planes on sightseeing tours and carrying passengers from Royal Princess, a cruise ship owned and operated by the Princess Cruises line, collided in midair near Coon Cove, Alaska. According to reports, the collision killed all five passengers and the pilot in the smaller plane (operated by an independent tour) and caused serious injuries to ten passengers in the larger plane (operated by Taquan Air).
We extend our deepest condolences to all those who were harmed in the accident, and those whose loved ones were seriously injured or killed. Though flying is the safest mode of transportation, there are many operators — particularly in remote areas with lacking infrastructure, such as Alaska — who do not invest the time and resources necessary to maintain their aircraft in peak operating condition, establish safe flying protocols, and ensure that all employees are properly licensed and trained. Cruise passengers on flight excursions may be unknowingly exposed to an excessive risk of danger.
In the present case, it is not entirely clear what caused the accident. Federal investigators are currently assessing the accident, and have thus far determined that the larger plane operated by Taquan Air was descending to an altitude of 3,300 feet when it collided with the smaller tour plane, which was already cruising at an altitude of 3,300 feet. Each plane — the de Havilland Otter and the de Havilland Beaver — is equipped with modern radar and communication systems allowing them to identify other planes in the same airspace and navigate around them to avoid a collision. As such, barring a catastrophic failure of either plane’s flight systems, it seems likely that the collision was at least partially caused by pilot error.
If you or a loved one was harmed in this tragic aviation accident, we encourage you to get in touch with an experienced shore excursion accident lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. You might not only have a substantial claim for damages against Taquan Air and the independent operator of the smaller tour plane, but also against the Princess Cruises line.
At Lipcon, we are well-positioned to litigate shore excursion accident claims, like those in the present case — we are licensed in California to sue Princess Cruises, and our lawyers are the most experienced in the nation at handling shore excursion accident cases.
Princess Cruises Could Potentially Be Held Responsible
Though Taquan Air and the independent operator of the smaller tour plane may very well be held liable for the accident, the collision victims (and their loved ones) could potentially also hold Princess Cruises responsible as well. In shore excursion accidents, a cruise line may be liable if they maintain close ties to the operation of the excursion or if they represent to passengers that they have involvement in the shore excursion operation – as many cruise lines do.
Cruise lines must evaluate the standards of their tour partners and sponsor excursions accordingly — if the cruise line sponsors a tour with rather below-par training standards or prior accidents (like Taquan Air reportedly had), then it could be liable for the injuries caused as a result of that negligent selection.
In the present case, the Taquan Air flight (which descended into the collision at 3,300 feet) was returning from the Misty Fjords tour, which is sponsored directly by Princess Cruises. In fact, passengers aboard Royal Princess can plan the excursion aboard the ship and purchase tickets directly through Princess Cruises. When they arrive at port, they take the flight tour to the Misty Fjords area. Given this high-level of coordination between Taquan Air and Princess Cruises, establishing a liability nexus is not only possible, but probable.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one has been harmed while on a shore excursion from your cruise ship, then you may have a right of action against both the shore excursion company — and potentially the cruise line — for damages.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our nationally-recognized attorneys have over a century of combined experience handling claims on behalf of injured cruise ship passengers and their families, including those that involve shore excursion accidents that lead to serious injury (or even death). We are a leading law firm in the maritime field, particularly with respect to shore excursion accidents and the unique jurisdictional and liability challenges associated with such litigation. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a skilled shore excursion accident lawyer to discuss your rights for compensation.