As of September, it appears the eruption of Kīlauea is slowing down. The National Park Service stated there was no significant incandescence visible overnight on Sept. 25th. No collapses within the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater had been observed for over 10 days, and the lava flows had not expanded since Aug. 9th. The sulfur dioxide emissions rates had significantly decreased in multiple areas. This is good news for residents and visitors. However, since May 3rd, when the volcano began erupting anew, numerous people have been injured.
On July 16th, Lava Ocean Tours was operating a tour boat near the volcano when the boat was struck by molten lava. The U.S. Coast Guard’s policy is to not let vessels come any closer than 300 meters (984 feet) from the volcano’s lava has run into the sea. However, Lava Ocean Tours as operating with a special permit to go as close as 50 meters (164 feet) from the lava.
If your or a loved one were injured while on a tour boat, cruise ship, or other vessel, do not hesitate to contact an experienced cruise ship lawyer in Miami. At Gerson & Schwartz P.A., we are highly experienced in handling claims related to cruise ships and other vessels. You can reach us at (877) 475-2905.
Lava Ocean Tours Operating Close to Volcano Despite Danger
The day of the incident, the captain navigated the boat about 228 meters away from the lava. As they were exiting the area, an explosion caused molten rock and ash to fall through the roof of the boat. In a picture taken by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, you can see the metal roof of the boat ripped apart and curved inward.
Explosions of this nature are not unusual. When lava, which is approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, enters much colder seat water, explosions can occur. The interaction can also create toxic clouds.
Because of the explosion, 23 passengers were injured. Twelve were treated at the hospital in Hilo, and one woman was taken to Honolulu in serious condition due to a fractured thigh bone. Many of the passengers suffered lacerations and burns.
Is the Tour Company Liable?
The question arises of whether the Lava Ocean Tours company is liable for the passenger’s injuries. It may depend on whether the passengers of the boat were properly warned about the dangers. Were they warned that explosions could occur? Were they warned that they could be in the vicinity of explosions and could suffer injuries?
While Lava Ocean Tours’ liability in the current situation is unclear, the company has been sued before and fined for regulatory violations, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Court records indicate the company settled three civil lawsuits involving incidents up to six years ago. The three lawsuits all alleged that the boat operator travelled at unsafe speeds given the ocean conditions and operated the vessel recklessly, with a willful and wanton disregard for other people and property’s safety. The regulatory violations were related to the boat operator launching a vessel from a boat launch without the proper commercial use ramp permit.
If You Were Injured on a Vessel, Call Gerson & Schwartz P.A.
Unfortunately, it is very common for tour boats and cruise ships to not fully warn passengers regarding the dangers they face aboard the vessel or during an excursion. Then, when passengers encounter a dangerous situation and are injured or killed, the tour boat or cruise ship company denies liability. It is essential in this situation for the injured passengers to work with an experienced cruise ship attorney.
If you were injured while on a cruise ship or tour boat, contact Gerson & Schwartz P.A. as soon as possible. We have decades of experience in handling maritime, boating, and cruise ship accidents. We will thoroughly investigate your situation, gather evidence on your behalf, and fight for you to receive fair compensation. Call us at (305) 371-600 to schedule a free consultation