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Duck Boat Accident in Philadelphia Presents Significant Legal Hurdles to those Injured

Search crews continue into a second day for missing passengers from a duck boat that sank after a collision with a Philadelphia city-owned vessel. The accident occurred on July 7, 2010 when a duck boat, operated by Ride the Ducks Corporation, became disabled on the Delaware River in Philadelphia due to mechanical failure and was impacted by a 250 foot city-owned barge that was being pushed by a tugboat. The collision caused the duck boat to sink and cast its thirty seven passengers into the forty foot deep waters. News outlets have reported injuries to those aboard the duck boat and two passengers remain missing.


Maritime accidents present significant legal complexities that most people, and even most attorneys, are not aware of.  Such accidents are governed by laws that were originally enacted over 150 years ago to protect wealthy shipowners. These laws can be used to limit the liability of shipowners to an amount that is often much less than what is necessary to compensate victims. For example, when a tanker carrying 119,328 tons of crude oil sank and caused millions of dollars in damages, the owner of the ship relied upon these laws and was able to successfully limit its total liability for all damages to only $50.00.  This incredibly unjust result effectively precluded those damaged by the accident from any recovery from the ship's owner.


To the unfortunate surprise of unsuspecting attorneys whose clients have been injured in boating accidents, these complex and antiquated laws are still applied today.   In fact, even the courts have recognized the unfairness that maritime laws can visit upon the unfortunate victims of boating accidents by insulating vessel owners from full liability. Maritime law is so far reaching and powerful that one court noted its potential to be used as an "offensive weapon" that shipowners can use to deprive victims of their common-law rights.


Nevertheless, the courts are bound to apply the law as it is written. Attorneys therefore must have the experience and knowledge in order to properly handle maritime cases and protect their clients' interests.


The attorneys at White and Williams know how to handle maritime accidents and position our clients to avoid the potential pitfalls that come with these complex cases. We have specific experience in defeating vessel owners' attempts to limit their liability under the antiquated and unfair maritime laws. Our knowledge is gained from handling maritime cases; it allows us to anticipate the strategies of vessel owners and direct the case to best protect our clients.


If you have been injured in a boating accident, contact the experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey boating accident lawyers at White and Williams. We serve accident victims in all areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Call 1-877-944-8396 or email Daniel O'Brien at [email protected] and you will receive a free, no obligation consultation on your case.

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