Accidents In New York Municipal Marinas
Our experienced New York maritime lawyers have the background necessary to handle any personal injury or wrongful death case from an accident in a New York municipal marina. Our Westchester personal injury lawyers have the unique skill set gained from years of experience in handling both New York state accident cases and maritime accident cases to handle accidents in Marinas, Docks, Harbors and other marine facilities in New York. Our Westchester admiralty lawyers are familiar with the nuances involving both New York State lawsuits against municipalities and the knowledge of maritime law and industry customs.
With numerous town and city run marinas in both Westchester County, including New Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Rye and all over Long Island, such as Freeport and Port Washington or Port Jefferson, accidents are bound to happen. The law is the same whenever you are injured in an accident on a marina on the Long Island Sound, the East River or the Hudson River.
The first obstacle that most municipal marinas try to put in front of injured people is the General Municipal Law. Under the New York General Municipal Law, the injured party must file a notice of claim with the municipality within 90 days of the accident. Often marinas are close communities and there is a social stigma which makes marina customers delay pursuing a claim. Given the notice of claim requirements, a delay can cause to you loose your lawsuit. If you don’t file the notice of claim within 90 days, you need to bring a motion to the Supreme Court to get special permission to file a late notice of claim.
Among the most common injuries in a marina come from slip and fall accidents or trip and fall accidents. Although it has been known for over 30 years that marine surfaces are very likely to be slippery because oil is frequently used in marine facilities and the marine walking surfaces, whether they be a dock, gangway or boat, their walking surfaces are constantly exposed to water and moisture in the air, municipal marinas continue to lag behind the rest of the marine industry. For over thirty years, it has been the standard good and accepted marine safety practice to apply non-skid coating to maritime walking surfaces to provide slip resistant walking surfaces. One of the most commonly used methods for wood planking is to apply non-skid paint, which is a coarse paint with additives such as sand or other additives which provides traction. In fact, well accepted maritime standards require that all surfaces of exterior personal platforms including walkways, passageways, decks and all other walking surfaces must be constructed of open metal grating or shall be treated with nonskid material. Good and accepted maritime practice recognizes that the property of a deck that makes it “slip-resistant” in the presence of a lubricating contaminant, such as water, moisture or oil, is its surface roughness which means that the surface asperities must be high enough and sharp enough to extend upward through the lubricating film sufficiently to engage the shoe bottom in a manner similar to sandpaper Recently our maritime personal injury lawyers won a major decision in the Westchester Supreme Court against the City of Rye where the Court held that the lack of non-skid was in and of itself a dangerous condition in the maritime setting.
Municipal marinas tend to be lax in their inspection protocol, which often allows rusted metal surfaces, such as galvanized metal or broken wooden cleats to go undetected. Maritime marina associations promulgate standards and best practices which require daily morning inspections, daily afternoon inspections, daily evening inspections and weekly safety audits. Quite often when our maritime accident attorneys take depositions of the harbor masters, we find that their maintenance protocol is far below industry standard.
Another common defense that city and town marinas put up to try to avoid liability is to claim that they have a prior written notice law which bars any recovery unless the town had prior written notice of the defective condition. While towns, cities and villages try to claim that the prior written notice law applies to marinas, New York Courts have held that these laws under New York State Law cannot apply to anything other than anything other than a street, highway, bridge, culvert, sidewalk or crosswalk. New York cases have held that a means of access to a boat or dock, a gangway, and floating wooden docks that are used to access boats at a marina are not a sidewalk and are not subject to the prior written notice law.
If you were injured in a marina accident, our New York maritime accident lawyers provide free consultations for accidents all over the State of New York, including Westchester, Rockland, New York City and Long Island.