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More than 50 people were hurt in a New York City ferry crash that happened during Wednesday morning's rush-hour commute.
The Seastreak Wall Street ferry, which brings workers from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan every day, didn't make a smooth mooring. Instead, it slammed into the dock, hurling passengers onto the deck.
Coast Guard members immediately began investigating potential causes of the crash. But hours after the accident, they were no closer to finding an answer.
All five crew members immediately underwent both drug and alcohol testing. While the drug analysis will take a while to come back, every member of the crew tested negative in an initial alcohol screening, New York's WABC-TV reported.
It's also known that the ship's propulsion system was recently upgraded after damage from Hurricane Sandy. Whether that's a factor remains to be seen.
So far, 57 people have been reportedly injured in the crash, according to USA Today. Two people sustained serious head injuries that put them in critical condition.
Ferries are a common way to commute into Manhattan since the borough is surrounded by water. But it's not the first time that a ferry crash has disrupted the seemingly calm commute.
Two crashes involving the Staten Island Ferry, which transports passengers between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island, New York, occurred in 2010 and in 2003. In the 2003 incident, a ferry crashed into a dock, injuring 37 passengers and killing 11, according to New York Daily News. It also led to several lawsuits.
Victims of the 2003 crash sued the city and won in several cases. By the time the lawsuits had all been dealt with, the city had paid out millions in damages.
That might happen again if the investigation shows the Seastreak ferry's operators were somehow at fault for this crash. Even if it didn't happen intentionally, the company could be liable for negligence.
In a negligence claim, defendants are typically accused of failing in their duties and causing harm as a result. So the plaintiff must prove the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff in the first place.
A ferry company has a duty to keep its boats well-maintained, and ferry employees have a duty to follow safety procedures. If either of those duties were breached, then injured passengers may be able to bring legal claims down the road.
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