Ferry Boat Accidents

ferry-boat-accidentsWhether it’s for work or fun, more than 8 million people ride the ferries across the Gulf waterways towards Galveston, Bolivar, Port Aransas, and Lynchburg every year. Our vast transportation system makes life easier. Yet, as with any method of transportation, accidents can and do happen. Passengers falling overboard, slip and falls, and crashes with other vessels unfortunately occur regularly.

Galveston Island offers a beautiful getaway excursion for people of all ages, including intoxicated party revelers who may crash their boat into a ferry. Earlier in 2015, Galveston Ferry operations came to a halt when the U.S. Coast Guard searched for a man who had jumped overboard. A similar incident occurred when a woman fell overboard in 2012.

Families of victims of tragedies like these need more than answers, they need support. As a passenger injured aboard a ferry, you may be wondering how to get compensation for your injuries or damaged property. Often the best asset in unexpected and life-altering boat accidents is the counsel of a maritime attorney.

The attorneys of Pierce Skrabanek have a deep understanding of maritime law. We’ve handled a wide variety of cases for injured passengers and workers in the maritime industry. If you’ve been injured in a ferry boat accident, you want dedicated legal representation. No matter the specifics of your accident, we’re available to assist you and always offer 100% free case evaluations.

5 Common Ferry Boat Accidents

Experts at the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association say somewhere between 800 and 1,000 die in ferry accidents annually. Although major catastrophes rarely occur in Texas, residents and visitors could be injured aboard these transportation vessels. Many factors may contribute to a ferry boat accident, but usually they are caused due to another person’s negligence.

Common causes of ferry boat accidents include:

  1. Mechanical failure – A boat that is not properly maintained has the potential to harm passengers as well as crew members.
  2. Overloaded vessels – The Galveston Ferry is strong enough to ship 18-wheelers across the Gulf. However, the slightest miscalculation in total weight of the boat could trigger a capsize event.
  3. Improper maintenance – Faulty railing can be a major contributor to overboard accidents.
  4. Adverse weather conditions – Although ferries are critical to getting residents to safety in the event of a hurricane, those same wind speeds and relentless rain could cause a vessel to crash.
  5. Operating under the influence – Whether on land or at sea, drinking and driving is a dangerous offense, punishable by law. Extensive injury, drowning and property damage is an avoidable consequence of operating a boat while intoxicated.

Staying Safe on the Ferry

One of the ways you can decrease your safety risk when riding on a ferry is by following the ferry rules established by the Texas Department of Transportation. Some rules seem obvious, such as turning off the engine and setting the parking brake. Others, such as which part of the deck you can feed the seagulls from, are not.

Rules vary slightly from port to port, but general safety tips include:

  • No smoking aboard the ferry
  • No littering or throwing trash overboard
  • Always accompany small children on the ferry deck
  • Do not sit on the rails of the vessel
  • Always follow the directions of the deck hands when driving onto the ferry
  • Do not tamper with the lifesaving equipment

A full list of rules for all Texas ferries can be found on the Department of Transportation website.

Each ferry is equipped with personal floatation devices for passengers. If an emergency should happen while onboard, it’s imperative that you follow the directions of the captain and crew. An unruly passenger behaving recklessly could be barred from riding the ferry and possibly prosecuted.

Famous Ferries of Texas

Both the Galveston-Bolivar ferry and the Lynchburg ferry have a rich Texan history. The Galveston-Bolivar ferry has been in operation since 1930, while the Lynchburg Ferry has been sailing across the Houston Ship Channel since 1888. Ferry service between Port Aransas didn’t begin until 1967. Both the Galveston and Lynchburg ferries are free to the public.

A visit to historic battle sites, such as San Jacinto battleground and Battleship Texas are easily accessible from the Lynchburg ferry, and a great way to get out of the house on a beautiful day. The Selma, a sunken experimental ship from World War I is visible on the trip to Bolivar. Sightseeing and boat tours are favorite pastimes on Galveston Island, where the ferry operates 365 days a year.

When to Call a Maritime Lawyer

Getting injured in a ferry boat accident can be just as confusing as it is frustrating and painful. With such a variety of passengers and vehicles on the ship at any time, the question of who is responsible for your injuries can be difficult for you alone to pinpoint. If you have lost a loved one in a ferry boat accident, you may not know where to turn to get the answers you need.

The maritime attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek can help answer questions you may have about ferry boat accidents, including how to determine who is at fault and if any compensation can be recovered. In order to uncover your legal option, we offer free, no-obligation case evaluations.

If you or a loved one has been injured aboard a ferry, please reach out to us today at (832) 690-7000, or simply use the form on this page.