Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

A personal injury that occurs on a cruise ship can have a number of causes. A collision with another ship, although relatively rare, is one such cause of personal injury that is rarely discussed. One report of a cruise ship that collided with a ferry has sparked interest among many in the legal community. Many maritime lawyers are expecting some type of legal action to take place against the cruise line, either from passengers or crew members, in relation to the event.

Seeking Legal Help for Cruise Ship Accidents

Cruise ships are supposed to be navigated and directed in a safe and efficient manner in an effort to avoid collisions. This did not happen with the UK-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages. A recent report shows that this cruise ship collided with a ferry. At this time, there are no official reports of injury, but it would not be surprising that a cruise ship collision did result in some type of injury for some of the passengers and crew on board.

Cruises have quickly become one of the most popular forms of vacationing. Each cruise is accompanied by its many activities to pick from and enjoy. For instance, several cruise lines offer whale watching. Whale watching is the practice of observing whales in their natural habitat. As with other vacationing activities, accidents tend to occur. One notable incident recently occurred. A 150-foot whale watching ship crashed into a wharf next to a downtown pier, injuring seven passengers and damaging the ship. There were 144 people onboard this ship. As it turns out, crewmembers reported that mechanical issues stuck the ship’s throttle in the forward position just prior to the ship’s crash. At the moment, the United States Coast Guard is investigating this accident.

This was certainly a horrific incident. If you or a loved one were injured on a cruise ship, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. It is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney for your case. The Miami maritime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz PA are here to help.  Our attorneys are experienced in filing claims against all major cruise lines. We know how to aggressively handle maritime lawsuits. We will fight hard to enforce your legal rights and we will not hesitate to bring your case to trial if a fair settlement offer is not made.

If an Accident Occurs

In October, the El Faro cargo ship sailed through the path of Hurricane Joaquin on its way from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. The large waves and heavy winds caused the ship to sink and all 33 crew members died at sea. Now some of the families are coming forward to file wrongful death suits against TOTE Maritime, the owner of the cargo ship. If you were injured or lost a loved one aboard a seagoing vessel, contact a Miami Maritime Accident Attorney.

Eight plaintiffs related to victims of the El Faro disaster are suing TOTE Maritime in Florida for wrongful death, claiming that tragedy could have been avoided. The remaining families have until December 21st to file claims against the shipping company due to a court order.

TOTE Maritime previously tried to block all lawsuits by the victims’ families, claiming that it was not to blame for the incident. The company filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Florida claiming that they exercised due diligence and did everything in their power to make sure the ship was safe and therefore should hold no financial liability for the accident. The court soundly rejected this complaint but agreed to cap the damages at $15 million if the company was not found to be negligent for the disaster.

In 2013, there were 736 reported boating accidents in the state of Florida and over 60 of those accidents resulted in at least one death, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Furthermore, over 400 people suffered injuries in those 736 boat accidents. This is quite troubling to our team of Miami maritime lawyers. We want everyone to enjoy safe and memorable boating trips.

You may be asking yourself, “Why do so many accidents occur in Florida waters?” To be fair, Florida leads the nation in the total number of registered boats with nearly 900,000 on the books. Given the sheer volume of boaters, the risk of serious boating accidents rises.

Causes of Boat Accidents in Florida and Across the Country

A strange rash of cruise passengers falling overboard has struck the cruise industry lately. And while no lawsuit have been filed, the stories still highlight safety issues in the cruise industry, and problems that need to be addressed.

Laundry List of Overboard Cases

A Carnival Triumph passenger’s body was found at sea after he fell off the deck of the ship. The incident happened just off the coast of Mexico. There was surveillance video, but no word yet on why the man fell or how.

Earlier this week, the Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian news outlet, reported that the body of a man who had fallen overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas on December 21st had been recovered, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.  The ship was sailing towards Noumea, New Caledonia, approximately 550 kilometers east of Brisbane when the unidentified man went overboard. Our Florida maritime accident lawyers  have been covering this news extensively, and can provide legal advice to anyone that may find themselves in an accident related to time spend on a cruise.

An alarm was raised around 1 AM Queensland time after another passenger witnessed the man fall. According to reports, the ship’s crew threw life preservers and smoke markers into the water, and even launched rescue boats, but, however, they could not locate the man.  New Caledonian Law Enforcement Services will be investigating the death.

This incident is just another in a long line of unfortunate man overboard accidents which have plagued the cruise industry the last couple years. Last year, 30-year-old South Floridian Sarah Kirby fell overboard from the Carnival Destiny as it sailed from Miami to Jamaica. Kirby fell 100 feet to the water, striking a lifeboat on the way down. Kirby then spent the next two hours floating in the ocean at night, injured and struggling to stay afloat. Kirby’s story ended much more fortunately than many others.

Earlier this week, the cruise ship industry suffered yet another disturbing incident when MSC Cruises’ Magnifica ship, transporting 2,469 passengers and 976 crew members, allided with a pier in Piräus, Greece. Alliding is a term often used in nautical contexts to describe an impact with a stationary object. The Magnifica suffered minor damage to its hull, although there were no immediate reports of injuries to the passengers or crew. According to reports, the ship was blown into the pier by strong winds while it was being berthed.

Although the initial reports indicate that the cause of the incident was inclement weather, further investigation might reveal that there’s more to the story. Unfortunately, as this blog has discussed recently, the cruise ship industry is not always forthcoming with negative information regarding its safety record. In fact, docking and berthing incidents are more common than expected with a number of serious accidents having occurred in recent years.

Perhaps the most memorable, and tragic, of these incidents was the sinking of the Carnival cruise ship Costa Concordia, which crashed into the rocks off the coast of Giglio Island, Italy, resulting in the deaths of thirty two individuals and injuries to dozens of others. Carnival and ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, took heavy criticism for the botched evacuation efforts, which suffered from significant delays, allegations of bribery, and the captain’s early abandonment of the ship.

Almost everyone felt the sting of the financial crash of 2008, but good news: we are coming back. Recreational industries are a great marker of how strong the market is; if consumers feel the pinch they let go of the fun stuff first. It should make you breath a fresh sigh of relief, then, to find out that the boating industry is on the upswing.
2012 saw a ten percent increase in recreational boat sales, nationally. It may not seem like much, but 2013 is expected to see the growth continue. The Miami Herald reported that Miami and Fort Lauderdale boat retailers and servicers have seen a steep increase in sales. Les Stewart, the sales and marketing director of Contender Boats Inc. in Homestead, FL, said that the company expects to sell 260 boats this year. That’s over a 100 percent increase from 2009 when they were, “lucky to sell a hundred boats…” according to Stewart. Contender also touts a 30 percent increase in the number of people it employs in the same timeframe. And that’s not the only South Florida company enjoying the return to recreation.

Companies like Deep Impact and Concept Boats are operating at maximum capacity. Deep Impact invested in development of new models during the recession and it paid off. They have already sold four of the 399 Cabin since its recent unveiling. Concept Boats is swamped with potential buyers who are attracted to the affordable prices they offer. The 30-foot open and 36-foot open are their best sellers.

Although many boaters downsized during the recession to save on maintenance and crew costs, the large luxury yacht industry has gained strength. In just two years, 2010-2012, yachts falling in the range of 80 to 200 feet saw a 30 percent increase in sales. Of course, the people who buy these multi-million dollar machines didn’t experience the economic decline like most of us. The smaller yachts are still moving slow, and the companies that manufacture them are relying much more on servicing for revenue than they were before 2008.

Since Broward Shipyard was bought and sold in 2009, the company’s income from servicing is 35 percent higher. Although
their engineering sector has declined, it still remains a focus for the company. Two 135-foot yachts are under construction for their client, World Sea Yachting.

It seems that although boat sales have climbed, many water enthusiasts are opting for chartering, and family friendly boats are proving to be the most popular. Not only has the boating industry seen growth but so has the cruise ship industry. Larger ships, more voyages and unfortunately more accidents as well. Whether staying close to home or island hopping, it’s important to understand what law governs your time on the open waters. Once a boat or cruise ship travels three nautical miles from shore Federal maritime jurisdiction rules over state laws. Gerson & Schwartz P.A. are experts in maritime law. If an accident occurred on or around the water you can count on Florida maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz P.A. to give you sound advice. They represent clients injured in a number of different situations and have years of experience.

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Passengers Badly Rattled As Cruise Ships Ventured Through Superstorm Sandy

As Americans continue to tune into coverage of the massive land damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, it may be inconceivable to many that cruise ship operators did not uniformly cancel Florida-based cruises that were set to sail into or near the well-mapped hurricane. Yet, while some cruise operators made the sound decision not to expose cruise passengers to the risks of Sandy, others directed their ships to proceed full steam ahead, with only minor course adjustments, arguing that modern cruise ships’ elaborate stabilization systems would protect them from the ravages of severely rough seas and exposing them to any accident or injuries. Unfortunately, top-heavy floating resorts proved no match for Sandy, and passengers trapped on these during the hurricane ended up witnessing frightening chaos and destruction.

The Show Must Go On, Say Cruise Operators

The October 29, 2012 edition of the Salisbury Post recounted the experience of a North Carolina family whose cruise on Disney’s Fantasy put them into the path of the storm. That account credits the ship’s captain with charting a course that avoided the fiercest zone of the hurricane, and with warning passengers to stay in their cabins; but it also conveys the great anxiety suffered by the family when it realized that “anything not bolted to the walls or floors was sliding side to side,” and that “deck chairs had crashed through doors.” Ultimately, said the mother of this family, one had to resort to faith in God in order to survive the terrifying ordeal.

At the time superstorm Sandy was brewing, the Bradley family of Cascade, Iowa, was scheduled to sail from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean on Disney’s Dream. According to coverage by KWWL TV in Iowa, the Bradleys tried to cancel their cruise reservations when they learned of the impending storm, but they were told by Disney that they would not receive a refund if they cancelled, and that they should rest assured that the cruise would safely avoid the path of the storm. Thus pressured to sail, the Bradleys traveled to Florida and boarded ship, but only hours after setting sail, the ship began to experience direct effects of the hurricane. According to the news report, the Bradleys watched unanchored objects rain down from shelves, and felt their cabins rattling. The severe rocking of the ship caused the Bradleys’ grandson to fall out of bed. Mrs. Bradley told KWWL that Disney “should have canceled instead of putting our lives in danger out there in 20 foot swells.”

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MIAMI, FL—Authorities from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating what might have caused a 25-foot charter boat to sink in the Florida Keys on Dec. 18. According to information provided by the Miami Herald, eight people were aboard the Key Largo Scuba Shack-operated vessel when it sank at approximately 3:15 p.m., ultimately claiming the life of a Washington State woman.

Eight individuals, including six divers, were aboard a Key Largo Scuba Shack-owned dive boat—the “Get Wet”— when for unknown reasons, the boat capsized and sank. Officer Bobby Dube of the FWC stated that according to witnesses, it only took “about two minutes” for the charter boat to sink.

Reports indicated 36-year-old tourist diver Aimee Rhoads was trapped inside the cabin of the dive boat when it capsized. Rescue crews performed CPR on Rhoads in an attempt to revive her, but to no avail. The victim was ultimately pronounced dead.

A second diver, 27-year-old New York man Amit Rampurkarl, was rushed to Kendall-based Baptist Hospital after he too became trapped in the cabin of the sinking dive boat. FWC spokesman Bobby Dube said that victim was hospitalized in critical condition.

The boat captain, one crew member and four other divers who were rescued following the Florida Keys accident managed to escape serious injury. The boat was reportedly headed to a well-known dive spot on Molasses Reef—located near Key Largo—when the boat began to take on water.

Dube told reporters the FWC will be looking into not only what caused the boat to sink, but why two of the divers on board became trapped. “Right now it’s a mystery why it sank, with more questions than answers… Even with just two minutes, they should have had time to get out… Maybe they went back to retrieve personal items. We don’t know. It’s just speculation right now,” he said.

Statistical data provided by the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission  indicated 668 boat accidents occurred during the year 2010. Those boat crashes and accidents resulted in 79 boating deaths and 389 injuries. Statistics suggest Florida has more boating accidents than any other state in the nation.

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