A New York City ferry accident that caused dozens of injuries was just the latest in a series of mishaps for one fated vessel. A high-speed SeaStreak ferry that runs between New Jersey and the lower tip of Manhattan crashed into a pier at 12 knots per hour on January 9th after completing its second routine trip of the morning. The crash injured 83 people and put one man into critical condition with life-threatening injuries. While the boat’s master blames mechanical failure for the accident, it’s not the first time that this particular ferry has crashed.
As the 131-foot long commuter ferry approached Pier 11 in Manhattan, the ship’s master, Jason Reimer, slowed the ferry from 30 knots to 12 and transferred helm controls to a starboard-side station for better visibility. When the throttle controls at that station failed, Reimer returned to the main station only to find the controls there inoperable as well. He returned to the starboard station in a final attempt to regain control of the vessel but it was too late. The ferry slammed into the pier, throwing passengers to the deck and injuring 83 of them.
Prior to the accident, at least one witness reported hearing crew members discussing how the ferry had been handling poorly as of late. In fact, one crew member was quoted as saying that none of the crew liked working on the boat because maneuverability issues made routine activities difficult. The boat had recently undergone a massive overhaul: its four engines swapped with two diesels and the water jet propulsion system replaced by propellers.
The Huffington Post uncovered Coast Guard records that shows the SeaStreak has collided with docking pylons at least twice in the past, ripping holes in the outer hull of the ferry each time. The first was in 2009 and the second just a year later – three accidents over the course of 3 years.
As a result of this latest New York City ferry accident, 37 individual lawsuits have been filed against SeaStreak LLC, which owns and operates the ferry, including one $45 million lawsuit filed on behalf of John Urbanowicz who suffered critical injuries in the Jan. 9th crash.
Unfortunately for the victims and families involved, an outdated legal loophole may limit the amount of damages they can collect. Citing an 1851 maritime law, SeaStreak petitioned the court to limit financial awards to the dollar amount value of the vessel (roughly $7 million).
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York City ferry accident, don’t let the company responsible for your injuries limit your right to compensation. Contact an experienced New York City transportation lawyer immediately. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation to learn your rights at 646-736-2777 or 212-385-1122