Massachusetts Legal Blog
Added Boat Traffic Increases Accidents in the Boston Area
With 47 miles of beautiful trails making up Boston Harborwalk and almost 200 miles of coastline in Massachusetts, boats are a common form of transportation in the area.
According to the Boston Water Taxi website, the line offers 500 daily departures with the 53 vessels currently in service. And that makes up just a fraction of the boat traffic that is in Boston Harbor. And as you might expect, with more traffic in an area, there are more boating accidents occurring. The most recent was a collision of a water taxi and a sailboat in August.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident on a Boston water taxi, you may certainly be left with questions about who should be held responsible for any losses you incurred or any medical bills that resulted from you injuries. DiBella Law Offices, P.C., can answer those questions in a free consultation.
As a paying passenger on a water taxi, you have the right to expect that the vessel is in good condition and being operated in a safe manner. If that is not the case, then you have the right to seek compensation from the owner of the water taxi or the taxi company, if it is not an independently operated vessel.
Most consumers think of a boat accident as a collision between two boats. But there are other collisions that can be equally dangerous for passengers. Colliding with a dock or pier, or running the boat aground, can create hazardous conditions for passengers. Hitting any large object will cause the boat to pitch violently, which can send passengers falling to the floor, into furniture, or overboard. In cases of a single-boat collision, it is likely that the captain of the boat is at fault, and either the captain or the captain’s employer would be the responsible party from whom you would seek compensation.
It is also possible for a passenger to be injured if the boat is not maintained properly. Loose or uneven decking, damaged or missing handrails or safety rails, and damaged steps can all cause a dangerous slip-and-fall accident. If a passenger is injured due to neglected maintenance or hazardous conditions, the owner of the boat could be found negligent in the care of the vessel, and may be responsible for damages the victim suffers, including medical bills.
When multiple boats are involved in a collision, the cause of the incident can be more difficult to determine. As in the case of the recent collision in Boston Harbor, the Coast Guard would be called in to investigate and determine the cause of the accident. Boats do have right-of-way laws, same as cars. Potentially, both boat operators could have been negligent.
A Collision with a Stationary Vessel
Finally, one vessel could be moored or docked when it is struck by moving watercraft. In most cases, these accidents will be the fault of the operator of the moving boat. In rare cases, both operators could be at fault, if the stationary boat was anchored in a traffic channel or other location that does not permit anchoring or mooring.
Though it might appear to passengers of a water taxi that the laws of the sea (or Boston Harbor) are different from the laws on land, many things are the same. A boat operator has the same responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle. There are rules about who has the right-of-way, rules to cover safe operation of watercraft in poor weather, and rules about operating safely around other vessels. There are even rules about the use of safety equipment, such as life jackets. It is the responsibility of the boat’s operator and crew to ensure everyone complies with safety rules and operate the boat in a safe manner. Captains, crew members, pilots, and boat operators must be trained to handle their vessel, and must also be able to act quickly when weather conditions exceed the boat’s capabilities. In dangerous weather, the boat should be moored or docked as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one has been injured in any boating accident in Boston and are not sure that you have a right to compensation, call DiBella Law Offices, P.C., at (781) 262-3338 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Boston personal injury attorneys.
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