At Michaels & Smolak, we are “joined at the hip” to the Finger Lakes. Our main law office is in Auburn, near the shores of Owasco Lake. One of our lawyers, Lee Michaels, lives on Skaneateles Lake. I live in Geneva, on Seneca Lake. Since we are personal injury lawyers, and work in the Finger Lakes area, it is no surprise that we are the Finger Lakes boating accident lawyers of choice for many boating accident victims.. We know all too well the horrendous injuries that Central New York boating accidents can cause. A few years ago, we got a large settlement for a woman who lost her leg to a boat propeller.
Having lots of experience in boating accident lawsuits, I read with interest, and dismay, about last week’s Staten Island Ferry crash. Imagine the fear passengers experienced as the ferry approached the docking area without slowing down! Those who had time to react scurried toward the back of the boat. This week, the first lawsuit stemming from the boat crash was filed.
A boating accident like this has two possible causes: Pilot inattention or mechanical failure. Here mechanical failure appears to be the culprit. The boat’s throttle failed to engage, making it impossible for the pilot to apply the reverse thrust, which is how this boat is slowed down for docking. Investigators still haven’t figured out what caused the malfunction.
So will these boating crash victims win their New York boating injury lawsuit? Can’t the boat owner simply argue that, hey, it wasn’t our fault; it was a mechanical breakdown, not pilot error?
I don’t think that argument will prevail. The boat owner is responsible not only for how its pilot navigates the boat, but also for making sure the boat is properly maintained. I’ll bet that when plaintiffs’ boating accident lawyers investigate the maintenance records, they will find gaps or negligence in failing to carefully inspect and maintain the motor.
Even if the throttle were brand new, however, there would appear to be a products liability lawsuit to be brought against the throttle manufacturer.
Bottom line: Pure accidents are rare. Most “accidents”, including boating accidents, are caused by SOMEONE’S carelessness. In this case, my prediction is that it was the maintenance crew’s negligence.
In any event, I certainly hope these seriously injured boating accident victims get some compensation from someone. After all, they were completely innocent passengers, and had a right to expect safe passage.