We had previously blogged about an incident involving a tourist duck boat being operated in Philadelphia that collided with a barge in the Delaware River in Philadelphia. The duck boat was carrying 37 passengers, and was overturned in the incident. ABC World News Reported on the incident on July 7, 2010.
This was not the first major incident involving a duck boat. In 1999 a duck boat had sank in Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas and killed 13 of 20 people that were onboard the boat.
Duck boats are interesting configurations, which were made famous as landing crafts in World War II. They are utilized by many of the local tour providers in the United States. You can see them navigating the street ways, as well as local waterways.
These amphibious vehicles are operating in various locations around the country.
In a press release dated June 20, 2011, the NTSB announced that they are having a meeting on June 21, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss the final report regarding the July 7, 2010 incident. The NTSB is charged in cases like this with the responsibility to conduct a complete investigation and issue findings of facts, probable cause for the incident, as well as issue safety recommendations. The findings of the NTSB become very significant in any litigation surrounding such an incident because although there are laws governing the admissibility of these reports which severely limit the admissibility of the findings, their findings and safety recommendations often times lead to the resolutions of any claims or lawsuits. The findings and conclusions do carry a lot of weight, and will lead to discoverability by all parties involved, investigators, attorneys, and experts, of significant information concern the cause of the incident and why the operator should be held accountable under the Maritime laws.
The Maritime law dealing with collisions on navigable waterways can be complex, and often times require utilization of Maritime experts who investigate the Rules of the Road and any violations by the vessels involved in the incident. Often times, a collision results in blame being placed on more than one vessel or boat. Under the Maritime laws, the blame for the incident in any lawsuit can be allocated by percentage of fault among the vessels involved in an incident. Often time a collision involving more than one ship or boat results in not only claims made by the passengers or crew involved, but also involves cross claims by the different vessel operators against each other. Most of the time the resolution is an allocation of fault among all involved. The injured passengers would be able to collect 100 percent of their award against any of the parties determined to be at fault under the Maritime law referred to as joint and several liability.
The law of collision further emphasizes the complexities involved in Maritime litigation, which is federal based judge made law in most part, with various federal statutes that may also apply. In addition, state law, including state statutory law, can be applicable in a Maritime case under certain circumstances. An experienced Maritime law firm will be able to sort throughout all the complexities and handle such matters.
Our firm continues to be cruise ship and boating safety advocates for those injured at sea.