Several months ago, we covered a tragic tour boat explosion near Exuma Island in the Bahamas, which led to the death of one passenger, and caused severe injuries to nine other passengers. The incident was heartbreaking — it was difficult to process the degree of suffering wrought by the destruction.
At that time, we questioned whether the tour boat operator (Four C’s Adventures) would ultimately be determined to be the one responsible for the explosion. We opined that if Four C’s Adventures had failed to properly maintain or operate its engines, and that was what lead to the explosion, then they could be held liable for the damages.
It now appears we were correct in our opinion that the boat operator’s negligence was a factor in the incident. Consequently, the injured passengers (and their surviving family members) should have actionable claims against Four C’s Adventures.
On Monday, October 1, 2018, the Bahamas Maritime Authority released a report after investigating the cause of the explosion involving a 37 ft. motor boat operated by Four C’s Adventures. The Bahamas Maritime Authority noted two primary concerns: 1) the boat in question lacked legal registered at the time of the accident, and 2) the fuel fill hose was incorrect for its intended function, and likely led to the gas leak that ultimately caused the explosion.
More specifically, the report indicates that the fill hose used for the fuel was actually a water discharge hose not designed to carry fuel. Pumping gasoline through the hose hardened and fractured it, thereby allowing the gasoline to leak out of it into the surrounding engine equipment precipitating the explosion.
Tour Boats Must Be Properly Registered and Maintained to Ensure Safe Operation
Commercial tour boats — as well as other vessels, small and large — must be registered and licensed. Operating a boat without the requisite registration and licensing is an illegal act and can expose the boat operator to significant civil (and even criminal) liability.
Boats require regular maintenance and the use of hoses and fittings specifically designed for marine use and for the liquids, they are to carry in order to be reasonably safe to use. Failure to use the correct hoses, fittings, and other marine equipment can lead to defects, procedural inefficiencies, and catastrophic failures as occurred here. Although, all countries have on their books laws covering this, the enforcement mechanisms needed to assure that these laws are adhered to by the boat’s owner or operator leave much to be desired in many Caribbean Islands and other places in the World.
The rules may seem stringent, but they are critical to ensure that boat operators adhere to applicable safety regulations. Boat registrations and licensing generate funds that are then use by maritime authorities to be able to randomly inspected, and fine any vessel presenting a safety hazard. In the present case, had the chartered tour boat been thoroughly inspected by maritime authorities, both prior to being granted permission to operate as a tour boat and once licenses regularly checked to make sure it was still safe, it’s very likely that the fuel hose issue would never have occurred in the first place.
We caution our readers when traveling outside the U.S. to be extra careful when taking local excursion.
We Can Help
If you have sustained serious injuries — or if your loved one has been killed — in a boating accident, whether in the United States or abroad, you may be entitled to sue and recover damages from the owner and operator of the boat in question.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our attorneys have over a century of combined experience representing injury victims engaged in various maritime and admiralty disputes, including those that involve tour boat accidents. We are committed to individualized advocacy; we collaborate early on with clients to develop a comprehensive case strategy tailored to their particular claims.
In the present case, the tour boat explosion occurred off the cost of the Bahamas, in international waters. It is important to remember that — no matter where you are injured — you may have a right of action for damages. Here at Lipcon, we can help. Our office is located in Florida, but our attorneys have successfully litigated boating accident claims throughout the United States, and in courtrooms worldwide.
Interested in speaking to an attorney about your claims? Contact an experienced maritime lawyer at Lipcon to request an appointment.