Q: I slipped and fell on the Staten Island Ferry. Because the accident happened at sea, will it be treated differently?
A: The accident can be treated differently because accidents on ferries that operate on navigable waters are subject to maritime law. While maritime law follows some of the same doctrines and legal concepts that avail themselves in general law, such as negligence and comparative liability, it also presents legal concepts that are uniquely maritime in nature, such as unseaworthiness or shipowner’s limitation of liability. Limitation of liability was raised by the City of New York in the tragic October 2003 allision of the ferry Andrew Barberi. I didn’t see information here indicating whether you were a member of the ship’s crew, shoreside employee from the City's Staten Island shipyard, or ordinary passenger. Your status as to those attributes would be a factor as to which laws could apply here. Please keep in mind that if you are contemplating bringing legal action against the City of New York, New York City Department of Transportation, the ferry itself, or other City party/entity/agency, lawsuits against the City of New York and its agencies are governed by 90-day notice of claim requirements. These notice of claim requirements can be agency-specific and can be subject to change. It is also possible that additional shorter deadlines and filing requirements could apply (it is difficult to say without having more detail on the particulars of this accident). If you are contemplating legal action, I advise that you consult with an attorney immediately to determine all applicable timeframes and deadlines within which you must act to preserve your legal rights.
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