On June 4th, 2021, the Osprey and the Peregrine Falcon, both vessels belonging to the Willamette Jetboat Excursion company, crashed head-on while one boat was returning to the launch site and the other was heading out for a trip.
The Osprey (the returning boat) was carrying around two dozen children, all of them students at Mitch Charter School, as well as some of their parents. While traveling on the left riverbank of the Willamette River, the Osprey was struck by the Peregrine Falcon.
It being a larger boat, the crash caused the Peregrine Falcon's hull to climb up on top of the Osprey. This caused the front of the Osprey to become badly damaged and a number of the passengers to suffer direct injuries. Others suffered secondary injuries when they were thrown around inside the boat. Riders on the Peregrine Falcon also suffered injuries in the boat crash.
Lawsuits filed against the company allege that the boat operators were not following state boating laws and, therefore, were not operating it safely. At this time, the damages requested top over $5 million.
Following the July lawsuit against Willamette Jetboat Excursions, the company itself filed a suit in September 2021 where they deny responsibility and request to be exonerated from liability. The legal foundation for this claim is the Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act of 1851.
This long-standing law aims to limit a boat owner's liability when their vessel suffers an accident. However, the specific law may only apply if no negligence is found. It is reported that this law allowed the owners of the Titanic to limit the damages owed to victims of the famed sinking. If the application of this antiquated law is permitted, the Jetboat company would only be on the hook for $300,000 in damages to the victims.
Boat accidents are often very complicated circumstances. There are a number of factors that must be considered outside of the operator of a vessel. For instance, weather and water conditions, as well as the presence of other vessels in the water at the time of an accident, can have a significant influence on the outcome of a civil suit.
As a result, boat accident lawyers must be very dynamic in their strategy and planning for achieving the maximum amount of damages for their clients. Experience in similar cases is invaluable, as are the relationships with regulatory bodies and industry experts who can speak to whether laws were broken or if negligence did, in fact, exist.
The best way for understanding your rights after a boat accident, whether you're a passenger or operator, is to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. In all manner of drowning or aquatic injury cases, Mike Haggard, Esq. and the entire Aquatic Attorneys team is ready to help you get justice. Contact us today for a free consultation.