On Monday, December 24 at 2:43PM, crew members aboard Blueray 1 — a ferry carrying 195 passengers and four crew members — requested emergency assistance from Coast Guard authorities after the ferry ran aground while on the way to Jeju Island, a popular tourist destination for both domestic and international travelers. Crew members noted that their ship engine had been disabled. Blueray 1 had only just departed 18 minutes earlier from the port at Marado Island when it ran aground on the rocks southwest of Gapa Island.
Coast Guard officials acted quickly — a rescue vessel was sent out to the scene of the accident, and Blueray 1 was towed safely to land. According to various media reports, no casualties were reported (though it is not clear whether any injuries were suffered), and the tow operation is believed to have taken 30 minutes.
The cause of the grounding accident is currently unknown, though an investigation has already been launched. The circumstances surrounding the accident are certainly surprising. Given that Blueray 1 ran aground so soon after its departure, and that it was traveling through an Island region with shallow water enclaves, it’s likely that it was traveling too close to shore when it ran aground.
If any passengers aboard Blueray 1 were injured, they might have a cause of action for damages against the ferry operator.
Ferry Operators Must Be Considerate of Circumstantial Factors to Avoid Grounding Accidents
Ferry operators must exercise care (under the circumstances) to ensure that their passengers are not exposed to an unreasonable risk of harm.
In the grounding accident context, this means that the route must be carefully planned to avoid traveling through shallow areas of excessive risk — further, the Captain must be considerate of the circumstantial factors and alter course accordingly. If the waters are rough, for example, then the Captain should position the ferry farther away from the shallow areas by the shore to avoid “drifting” into a grounding accident.
In the present case, Blueray 1 was routing through the southeastern islands of South Korea, from Marado, past Gapa, and finally to Jeju. Given the route, the ferry was passing through rocky, shallow waters. The Captain should have exercised caution to ensure that they were not traveling too close to shore.
We Can Provide Comprehensive Legal Assistance
If you’ve been injured in a ferry grounding accident — whether you’re a passenger or crew member — then you may be entitled to sue the ferry operator and recover damages for your losses. Effectively navigating the murky waters of maritime litigation can be quite challenging for those who are unfamiliar with such disputes. We therefore encourage plaintiffs to get in touch with a qualified attorney early on.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A., our nationally-recognized attorneys have significant experience advocating on behalf of those who have suffered injuries in ferry accidents worldwide. We are capable litigators who have seen “everything,” from ferries that capsize due to unexpected engine room fires, to grounding accidents that lead to serious passenger injuries.
It is our belief that comprehensive legal representation is necessary for effective litigation. We take the time to engage closely with clients throughout the litigation process and understand every aspect of their dispute. Since our founding, we have obtained over $300 million for our maritime injury clients.
Contact Lipcon today to request an appointment with one of our experienced maritime lawyers.