A National Transportation Safety Board finding that captain error caused the Jan. 9, 2013, crash of the SeaStreak Wall Street commuter ferry could impact the ongoing litigation by injured passengers seeking recovery.
The NTSB found, after a 15-month investigation, that the captain lost control of the vessel and that the risk of accident was heightened by SeaStreak’s lack of a safety management system.
The high-speed ferry was carrying about 330 people from Atlantic Highlands, N.J., when it hit Pier 11 at the foot of Wall Street. Passengers were flung about by the impact, with some sent tumbling down stairs and into walls.
The NTSB report, adopted at an April 8 meeting, was eagerly awaited by ferry owner SeaStreak LLC and by lawyers representing the 46 passengers who filed timely personal injury claims. The claimants are asking for more than $75 million in damages, with the most severely injured seeking $45 million.
Those claims are pending in federal court in Newark in the context of an action brought by SeaStreak to limit its liability over the crash under a maritime law that dates back to 1851 and was used by the owners of the Titanic.
The Limitation of Liability Act limits ship owners’ liability for losses incurred without their “privity or knowledge” to the value of the ship and its cargo. If the company succeeds, its exposure will be capped at the value of the ferry, claimed to be no more than $7.6 million.
read the full story via Finding of Captain’s Fault Could Bear On SeaStreak Crash Injury Claims | New Jersey Law Journal.