Two jet boats, both owned by the high-profile Willamette Jetboat Excursions Company, collided near a narrow curve on the Willamette River. One of the boats carried a group of elementary school students from Mitch Charter School along with their parents. The other one had several passengers, along with a well-known Canadian pop star onboard.
The accident has left several passengers injured and in shock. Many children are also among the wounded.
The jet boat company, however, isn’t ready to accept that they are at fault. Instead, the company has urged a federal judge to grant them protection against the costly lawsuits filed by the victims by invoking the 1851 law.
The day was supposed to be one of celebration, or so the group of elementary school students and their parents thought. They were celebrating the end of classes at their school. With the boat going quite fast over the river, the whole group was having a lot of fun. The enjoyment, unfortunately, did not last too long.
As the boat approached a narrow bend at high speed, the operator failed to notice another company boat coming from the other end. As the two boats crashed into each other with high force, the bow of the larger one climbed over the smaller, shattering the windshield instantly. The front portion of the boats was left mangled by the impact.
The passengers present in the front of the boats were the most affected. A parent whose daughter ended up with a broken arm stated that several children ended up with bumps, bruises, and dislocated fingers.
The injured passengers have filed a lawsuit against the jet boat company for failing to comply with state boating laws and not operating safely.
The passengers who have filed the lawsuit against the company have requested a high compensation amount for the damages sustained by them, in addition to the fees for hiring the Portland Personal Injury Attorneys.
A Century-Old Law
In its defense, the company has sought to invoke federal law to deny the responsibility for the accident. The Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act, first adopted in 1851, allows boat-owners and companies to limit the payable damages to the value of the boats involved in the crash if there is no negligence involved.
This, over a century-old law, has been used in the past to limit liability in several major ocean accidents, including the sinking of the Titanic. Although there have been efforts to eliminate this law by some US officers, proper steps haven’t been taken yet for its removal.
Not The First Lawsuit For The Company
This isn’t the first time the company is facing a legal suit for its negligence. Since 2002, the company has been charged with at least nine legal lawsuits involving negligence and injuries. But, this is the first time the company has endeavored to take the help of this 170-year-old law.
The jet boat company is of the opinion that the accident did not result from any negligence on their part. In the lawsuit filed by the company’s lawyers, they have demanded that the court limit the total payout to the combined value of the two boats involved in the accident. As per the company, the value after collision stands at $300,000.
The victims are skeptical of this claim, though. One of the parents on board the boat is of the opinion that safety protocols weren’t followed by the speeding boat. The passengers attribute the responsibility of the crash to the company, citing that one of their drivers was at fault.