Boating Accidents in the waters off of Long Island and New York City
Boating in the waters around Long Island and New York City is a very popular pastime. Throughout the year, especially during beautiful spring and summer days, the waters around downstate New York can be as crowded as the Long Island Expressway during rush hour.
It isn’t just pleasure boats that are in the waters around New York. New York Harbor is an extremely active waterway with Cruise Ships operating out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. At any given time you could also find freighters, oil tankers, ferries going between Brooklyn and Manhattan, New Jersey and Manhattan and the iconic and easily recognizable Staten Island Ferry. There are also ferries to places like Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and Governors Island. You can also find fishing boats that operate out of places like Freeport or Captree.
There are also a large number of pleasure boaters throughout the area. Since the waterways are as crowded as they are, accidents and crashes are going to happen.
As with any personal injury lawsuit, to recover damages, you must prove that the negligence of others caused your injury.
What is Negligence?
Negligence means that someone failed to act with reasonable care, and as a result of that failure, you sustained an injury.
With boating, the most common types of accidents are:
- a collision involving two or more boats
- a boat hitting the wake of another boat
- hitting a wave
- a boat hitting a submerged object, such as a rock, junk or even shallow ground
When there is a collision between multiple boats, the case may take on a very similar feel as a car accident. An injured operator can sue another operator claiming that the fault of the crash is more than 50% other operators responsibility. An injured passenger may file a claim against either or all of the operators involved in the crash.
On the water, there are safe boating practices that give certain craft the right-of-way. For example, motorboats are required to give sailboats a very wide berth as motorboats are faster, have more power, and are more maneuverable. A crash involving a motorboat and sailboat will most often be seen as being the fault of the motorboat operator.
Hitting the wake of another boat or a wave.
It is the responsibility of a boat operator is to watch for objects or conditions that could be a potential risk to the boat and its passengers. This includes watching for wakes or waves.
The difference between a wake and a wave is that a wake is created as a boat travels through the water and a wave is naturally occurring. With a wake, an accident may be the fault of the operator who created the wake or the operator that hit the wake. With a wave, if there was negligence, it could only have been the operator that hit the wave.
Looking at the Facts to Determine Who Was Negligent
In considering whether the negligence was with the operator that created the wake, there are areas that are “no wake” zones. These are areas such as marinas, inner harbors, and by bridge underpasses. These confined areas that tend to be more densely populated and traveled. A speeding boat that creates a wake in such an area would be negligent in the event of an injury that occurred due to the wake that was left. If a wake is hit in open water, the negligence might be on the part of the operator that hit the wake,
Determining operator liability in terms of a wake or wave accident depends on several conditions including:
- The size of the wake or wave
- the speed the boat was traveling
- the visibility on the water
- Boat traffic in the vicinity. Could the boat have safely maneuvered away?
- Did the operator give passenger proper warning about conditions on the water or an approaching wake or wave?
Hitting a submerged object
Even in the best of conditions, there is a risk of hitting a submerged object. When traveling in poor conditions with low visibility, there are things an operator can do to mitigate the risk:
- travel at slower speeds
- use nautical charts
- use GPS
If an operator is doing his or her due diligence to remain safe and still hits a submerged object or runs aground, it may not be negligence. If an operator is not using the tools available to avoid an accident and is traveling a high rate of speed, then it would be negligent.
Call the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert
For more information on boating accidents, please contact the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert today to schedule your free consultation. Marc Albert serves clients throughout the New York City metropolitan area from his offices in Queens and Syosset.