Modern technology has allowed for shipwreck-proof designs and advance warnings about dangerous sea conditions, but human error can render such progress meaningless. In 2002, for example, the Senegalese state-run passenger ferry M/V LE JOOLA sank off the coast of Gambia during a storm, killing more than 1,800 people. Although bad weather may have directly caused this ferry accident, overcrowding, poor maintenance and being too far from the coast all have been cited as possible contributing factors.
Even a brand new, well-designed ship can fall victim to rough seas because of owner/operator negligence. Examples of such negligence include:
- Overcrowding. Vessels are designed to carry a maximum number of persons and can become top-heavy when that limit is exceeded, which increases its risk of capsizing.
- Defective equipment. Bad weather can limit visibility, making it important for navigational equipment to be functioning properly. The crew must also be able to alert authorities of any distress.
- Poor maintenance. An ill-maintained ship may not be able to withstand rough conditions as designed.
- Improper loading or storing of cargo. If cargo is not properly secured, it can jeopardize the stability of a vessel.
- Failure to train employees or hiring unqualified individuals. In the event of inclement weather, the actions of a ship’s captain and crew can make the difference between the vessel sinking or staying afloat, between those aboard surviving or dying.
When owner/operator negligence contributes to a maritime accident — even if bad weather also played a part — victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries or loss of a loved one. Passengers and crew are protected by different maritime laws, making it important for victims to learn about their legal rights from an experienced maritime attorney.
Has a maritime company’s negligence harmed you? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today.
Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers