Boat Tenders Accidents

If you’ve ever been on a commercial cruise out of a Florida port, chances are at some point you boarded a “tender boat,” particularly if you took an excursion at one of the various ports of call.

A tender boat is a smaller vessel used to shuttle passengers from large cruise ships to the dock and back. This is arranged because many local docks aren’t equipped to accommodate large cruise ships, so the ship must be anchored while the tender boat takes passengers back and forth.

Generally, this type of transportation is safe, but injuries do occur.

At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our boating injury attorneys know injury claims stemming from tender boat accidents can be more complex than those solely against a cruise line, because tender boats are often owned and operated by locals.

In far too many cases, we have seen tender boat accidents occur when operators were careless, inexperienced or both. Many times, tender boat operators are under immense pressure from cruise lines to maximize the number of trips and passengers ferried. This can lead to overloading and operation at unsafe speeds.

In other situations, cruise lines fail to provide sufficient assistance to disabled or elderly passengers, resulting in falls.

Cruise Ship Legal Responsibility to Passengers

Commercial cruise lines have what is considered a nondelegable duty to ensure passengers have safe ingress and egress to and from the ship under adequate supervision. When a duty is nondelegable, it means the obligation can’t be delegated to a third party.

This means the ship is legally responsible for the safety of passengers whether the company decides to use its own life boats/tender boats or contracts with a third-party local boating company to provide tender services. So if a tender boat is operated negligently by a third-party firm, the cruise line may still be liable. U.S. law bars cruise lines from limiting liability for injuries arising out of negligent tender boat operation.

However, it must be noted there is a major difference between boat tendering and a boat excursion when it comes to legal duty of the cruise line.

Boating excursions, which are almost always offered by a third-party contractor, are not considered technically part of the cruise line’s obligation, per the ticket contract. Excursions are usually purchased separate from the ticket, either before the trip or while on board. For this reason, operations of excursion boats aren’t usually part of the cruise line’s general obligation to carry passengers to and from foreign ports in a reasonably safe manner.

In these cases, the law does allow cruise lines to exculpate liability for injuries occurring while on excursions, and one can usually find these clauses in the cruise ticket contracts issued to passengers.

Of course, this does not mean cruise lines will not attempt vigorously to evade liability for all off-board injuries – even those related to tendering. Our experienced cruise ship accident attorneys will carefully analyze the facts of your case to determine whether legal theory supports your claim for compensation.

Tender Boat Injuries

Most tender boat injuries occur because the tender is not safely secured to the dock or cruise ship. The biggest risk is falls.

In one 2010 Florida case, a woman sailing with the Carnival cruise line suffered a broken tibia when she fell trying to exit a tender boat onto the dock. The boat reportedly moved away from the dock as she was taking a step, causing her leg to fall into the gap. The result was a broken leg. She later settled with the cruise line for $125,000.

Another common problem is slippery floating docks. While most people are cautious to avoid wet patches, they may not be able to remain steady as the bobbing waves make the surface beneath them unstable.

Improper speed and insufficient assistance are also common causes of tender boat injuries.

If you are injured on a tender boat, it’s important to report the incident to the cruise operator immediately. After seeking medical attention, contact an experienced boat accident lawyer.

Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.

Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation

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