John K. Fulweiler
John K. Fulweiler is a licensed mariner and experienced admiralty attorney. He represents individuals and companies throughout the East and Gulf Coasts and has recently taken command of his own maritime law firm. He enjoys navigating the choppy waters of the maritime law, but readily admits to missing life on the water. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York ferry accident: Legal concerns
January 10, 2013
the same indignities as their workboat brethren and are largely treated by the
maritime law like any other commercial vessel.
commercial vessel is involved in a casualty, such as yesterday’s hard landing
of the New York commuter ferry Seastreak Wall Street
in Lower Manhattan that resulted in numerous injuries, several maritime legal issues arise.
company, there is likely a concern for protecting the corporate entity that
owns and operates the ferry. These concerns involve investigating the cause of
the accident, coordinating with the vessel’s insurer, responding to the
requirements imposed by law such as crew drug and alcohol testing, and meeting
the U.S. Coast Guard’s demands for personnel interviews and documents. The vessel’s
insurer will appoint attorneys and other companies will also have their own
private legal counsel ride shotgun and provide updates on the insurer’s
decisions and efforts. There’ll also probably be consideration given to the
merits of filing a Limitation of Liability action. In this move, a vessel owner
without knowledge of the cause of the incident can seek to limit its liability
to the post-casualty value of the vessel. This action can force all of the
claims into a single, federal courtroom. You may recall that the City of New
York took this course in the context of the 2003 Staten Island Ferry disaster.
passengers will likely seek compensation to somehow remedy the pain and
suffering and to pay for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. Generally
speaking vessels owe their passengers a duty of reasonable care under the
The cause of
the Manhattan ferry accident is under investigation, but other entities are likely
speaking with legal counsel. The terminal owner might be concerned about
preserving evidence showing that the pier was suitable and that there were no
obstructions or defects at the time of docking. If the ferry’s new rudders and propellers
had anything to do with the allision, you might find the component manufacturers,
installers and naval architects who perhaps blessed the change all touching
base with their admiralty counsel for guidance on preserving documents and
preparing a defense if one is required.
Each day, Manhattan
ferries move a lot of passengers without incident. Hopefully, this ferry
accident will not curtail a thriving industry and will only make future