Can I Sue a Public Ferry for an Injury in Florida?

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Florida is surrounded by the ocean and beaches, and rivers and bays are scattered throughout the state. As such, ferries are common forms of transportation. While some ferry routes are recreational, others are publicly operated and are an important mode of transportation.

There are various ferry services throughout Florida, some private, others public. The state government or local municipalities often operate public ferries. Private companies usually operate private ferry routes. Sometimes, local governments contract private companies to operate public ferry routes. If you are injured on a ferry, it can be difficult to determine who you should sue. The rules for suing a private ferry company and suing a municipality or the state are very different. You should speak with an attorney right away to determine who you should sue. Your injuries might be severe, and you deserve compensation for your damages.

If you were injured while riding a ferry in Florida, our Florida ferry boat accident attorneys can help you get compensation. Get a free case review from our experienced team at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. Call us at (305) 204-5369.

Ferry Services in Florida

Many ferry services are recreational and offer tours, drinks, and food. Other ferry services are more akin to public transportation and are intended for travelers and commuters.

One such ferry service gets travelers from the James L. Knight Convention Center to the Bentley Bay Marina across Biscayne Bay. This service is geared more toward commuters and travelers passing through.

The Fort Gates Ferry is one of the oldest ferry services in Florida and had been operating since the 1830s until Hurricane Irma shut down operations. The Saint John’s River Ferry travels between the Fort George Ferry landing on Fort George Island and Mayport Ferry Landing in Mayport Village.

While these are examples of commuter ferries, other ferries are designed for tourists’ enjoyment. River and bay tours with cocktails and dining are common tourist attractions in Florida

Whether commuting to work or enjoying your vacation, a ferry accident could spell disaster. Our Florida ferry boat accident attorneys can help you sue the appropriate party for damages.

Who Is Responsible for Public Ferries in Florida?

Determining whom you should sue is a harder decision to make than most people think when it comes to ferry boat accidents. While private companies operate many ferry boat services, others are operated by the state or local municipalities.

After an accident on a ferry, you can sue a private ferry boat company like you would any other private person or entity. Our Ft. Lauderdale boat accident lawyers can help you prepare your complaint, calculate damages, and argue for compensation in these cases.

If your accident occurred on a ferry operated by the state or a municipality, the rules are somewhat different. Suing a government entity requires additional notice to the government, and there are usually multiple deadlines to manage. In some cases, a private company is contracted by a government entity to operate a public ferry service, and the two become legally entangled.

Can I Sue a Public Ferry Operation?

Suing a public ferry operation involves additional rules, strict deadlines, and limits on damages. Our Jacksonville boat accident attorneys can help you navigate this complicated process to get the compensation you need.

Florida Statute § 768.28 contains various rules and restrictions for suing a government entity. First, when you sue a government entity or municipality, you must serve a notice of claim on that entity within 3 years of your ferry accident. You cannot file your actual lawsuit until after a 180-day investigation period. After the investigation period, the government entity may accept or deny your claim. If your claim is denied, you have 3 years to file your lawsuit. If your lawsuit is for wrongful death, you have only 2 years.

When determining damages, you should keep in mind damage caps imposed under the law. If suing a single government entity, that entity may not be responsible for more than $200,000 in damages. If you sue more than one government entity, the limit is increased to $300,000. Punitive damages, designed to punish defendants, are typically not available when suing a government entity or agency.

Can I Sue if a Public Ferry Service Is Outsourced to a Private Company?

Sometimes, a public ferry service is outsourced to a private company. This means the service is provided by a government entity but operated by a private ferry boat company. Depending on the relationship between the government and the private ferry company, you may be able to sue one or both parties.

Typically, an employer can be held vicariously liable for an employee’s negligence. If a town or city hired a private ferry company to operate a public ferry service, the city might be liable for the private company’s negligence. However, this only applies if the private company is an employee of the city. The city might be beyond your legal reach if the private company operates as an independent contractor.

Should I Sue the Ferry Operator, Ferry Company, or Operating Government After a Florida Accident?

Exactly who you should sue after a ferry accident depends on your situation. In many cases, if you sue a ferry operator, you can also sue the ferry company that employs them. As discussed above, employers can be held vicariously liable for their employee’s negligence as long as the employee acted within their employment scope.

If the ferry operator’s negligence arose out of their ordinary job duties, their employer might be vicariously liable. However, the employer may not be liable if the negligence was separate from their job, such as an accident when the ferry is supposed to be off duty.

You can only consider suing the government if the ferry service was public. Towns and cities operate many ferry services as a means of public transportation. In that case, it makes sense to name the city or town that runs the ferry service as a defendant.

Common Injuries on Ferries in Florida

If you believe a ferry accident is to blame for your injuries, our Lake George boat accident attorneys can help you calculate damages and get compensation. Many serious injuries can occur on ferries, including but not limited to the following:

  • Brain injuries
  • Drowning
  • Broken bones
  • Slip and falls
  • Neck and back injuries

There are also a wide variety of causes of accidents on ferries. For example, some accidents are caused when the ferry crashes into something like a dock or another vessel. Other times, passengers fall overboard or are injured by unsafe conditions on the boat. A lack of safety gear in case of emergencies or generally unsafe conditions, like uneven floors or unstable stairwells, may lead to accidents.

Speak With a Florida Ferry Accident Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

Ferry accidents are incredibly dangerous, and ferry services, whether public or private, should be held accountable. Our Miami boat accident lawyers can help you get justice for your injuries. Call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. Call us at (305) 204-5369 for a free case evaluation.

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