The ferry accident in NYC this past week, thankfully resulted in no fatalities, but did leave several people with serious bodily injuries and possible emotional scarring. The accident left many people wondering who will be held responsible and accountable for personal injuries sustained from the crash. With this type of accident, injuries, often to the head, back and neck can linger for a lifetime and cause a multitude of problems. As a practicing personal injury attorney in Providence, RI, and from working with leading lawyers in the field everyday, I have some thoughts on the topic regarding the potential for a lawsuit.
First, there are a few issues the owner of the boat company will encounter. If this was human error, the negligence will be imputed to the company. Possible product liability action against the company who added the steering system on the vessel. The crew complained of these issues with it being difficult to steer the vessel. Potentially the maintenance company who stores and services the vessel to be seaworthy. Laws of maritime will apply as this was an incident at sea and the typical rules of the road will apply here. State specific laws also apply. For example, in 2008 there was an accident between a Block Island ferry and a Coast Guard cutter in Rhode Island waters. The ferry crash was investigated by the NTSB and according to the NTSB findings were finalized in the Spring of 2011 and a lawsuit was filed by a Westerly resident, Shawn Causgrove. Causgrove sued the Interstate Navigation over the injuries sustained in the Block Island motor vessel crash. The difference between these crashes though is in where they occurred.
I am licensed to practice in Rhode Island and not a New York lawyer, but I do believe in New York, serious injury needs to occur in order to bring a claim, unlike laws in my States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In the end, injuries have a way of creeping up on people over time and some people feel the effects and experience symptoms more quickly than others. In any case, if you are involved in some form of accident, that may or may not result in personal injury, please seek medical attention immediately, as some people don’t always feel the effects of a personal injury right away. It is better to be safe than sorry. See a medical professional to get checked out. If your doctor does discover any form of personal injury, document everything and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.