Over the summer, a Cleveland Tiki Barge collided with the Nautica Queen while the latter vessel was moored. Fortunately, most of the passenger injuries were minor. But authorities, including the Coast Guard, continued to monitor the situation and conducted an investigation to determine whether charges were warranted.
The incident brings up interesting legal questions that can arise when a single person at a company causes significant damage, whether an entire company can be held liable for the actions of a single person, and the extent that a captain can be liable for injuries sustained on his or her vessel. It also brings up questions about the unique laws that apply to injuries that occur on the water, right-of-way rules for boats and other vessels, and how insurance coverage might apply in this and similar situations.
Under international maritime law, the captain of any sized boat is ultimately responsible for protecting his or her passengers from injuries, and for any damage caused by the vessel.
The incident brings up interesting legal questions that can arise when a single person at a company causes significant damage, whether an entire company can be held liable for the actions of a single person, and the extent that a captain can be liable for injuries sustained on his or her vessel.
Whenever a boat carries passengers for hire, the boat must have a licensed captain aboard. This rule applies anytime the boat is carrying paying passengers, regardless of whether the boast is being operated on the ocean, the Great Lakes, or inland waterways like rivers. Ultimately, the captain is responsible for the safety of the passengers on the vessel, and for any damage caused to other vessels.
The captain is legally responsible for ensuring that all crew members and passengers are aware of safety procedures and for keeping the passengers and crew safe. In the event of personal injuries, wrongful death, or other claims for damages, both the boast captain and the owner of the vessel can be held liable.
A passenger who was injured on a vessel has the right to sue the captain, members of the crew who were responsible for causing his or her injuries, and the owner of the vessel.
Any company that is operating a vessel for hire should have marine insurance coverage. A marine insurance policy should provide insurance coverage for damage caused to other vessels, as well as claims for injuries to passengers.
The extent of commercial maritime insurance coverage will vary depending on the size of the vessel and where the boat will be operating. For example, inshore fishing vessels, offshore fishing vessels, sightseeing charters, dive charter boats, sailing schools, waterskiing schools, and excursion vessels all carry passengers for hire and all need some type of commercial maritime insurance. But the extent of coverage and the risk they are being insured against will vary.
Commercial boat owners can purchase two primary types of insurance: hull coverage and liability coverage.
In the case of the Cleveland Tiki Barge collision, it would appear that any injuries sustained by the passengers would be covered by the Cleveland Tiki Barge’s insurance company. Likewise, any damage to the Nautica Queen would also be covered by the Cleveland Tiki Barge’s insurance company.
Even though the Cleveland Tike Barge was a relatively small vessel, because it was carrying passengers for hire, a licensed captain was required to operate the vessel. The captain is ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety of the passengers and crew. The Cleveland Tiki Barge and its owners are responsible for the actions of its employees, including the captain. Ultimately, it is likely that any injuries sustained and damages caused would be covered by the Cleveland Tiki Barge’s insurance company.
When someone is injured because of another person’s mistake or negligence, it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer evaluate who is responsible for causing the injuries and how they can be held liable.
At Robenalt Law, personal injury attorney Tom Robenalt has more than 30 years of experience seeking justice for people who have been injured because of someone else’s mistakes. Regardless of the type of injury you and your family have suffered, Robenalt Law can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. We will advise you on your legal rights, identify who is responsible for causing your injuries, and fight to protect your rights.
We understand that it can be intimidating to consider taking legal action after a traumatic event. Put our experience to work for you and allow us to investigate your situation so you can better understand your options.
We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee, which means you won’t pay an attorney’s fee unless we recover money for you.