Articles Posted in maritime accidents

Bad weather reports and communications cited in cargo ship sinking

As Florida cruise ship attorneys, we review the causes of a cruise ship or maritime accident. The National Transportation Safety investigated the death of 33 crew members in the 2015 sinking of a cargo ship in the most fatal maritime accident of its kind in 50 years. It preliminary findings revealed long-standing causes of these tragedies. The NTSB called for improved maritime communications and weather forecasting.

El Faro sails into hurricane

How to Avoiding Serious Injury During Water-Based Activities

During the summer months, many people in the Miami area enjoy recreational water activities like boating, jet skis, water skiing, and wake boarding. While these kinds of activities are undoubtedly enjoyable and often exciting, they also expose participants to a serious risk of injury. Below are some ways to minimize your risk of injury while engaging in water-based recreation. In the event that you are hurt while playing in the water this summer, it is important that you discuss your legal options with a Miami maritime accident lawyer as soon as you can.

  • Ensure that you have all proper safety equipment for your activity. Lifejackets or personal flotation devices should be worn on boats, and inflatable toys are not a substitute for a these lifesaving devices. Children should be outfitted with life vests, helmets, or other safety equipment that is properly fitted to their size.

The Zika Virus (“Zika”) has been making headlines for several months now. Though at one time, the virus did not appear to be a major threat, it has now spread to many destinations throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and in various states in the United States. Many have canceled their travel plans to avoid coming in contact with the disease, which is carried by Aedes mosquitoes. Pregnant women are especially at risk should they contract Zika since it has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly. Aside from mosquito bites, it is also believed that Zika may be spread through sexual intercourse. Therefore, travelers including cruise ship passengers who are infected with Zika may spread it to others.  In these instances, a cruise ship injury attorney in Florida may be able to help.

The mosquitoes that spread Zika thrive in warm, humid conditions. Many countries that have reported local transmission of Zika are popular cruise destinations—such as Jamaica, Mexico, and, most recently, the Bahamas and St. Kitts. In addition, Miami, which is a major departure port for many cruise lines, has reported cases of local transmission.

How can a cruise line be held responsible if a passenger contracts Zika? First, cruise lines have a duty to warn their passengers of any dangers that may be present in any ports. This includes the presence of any diseases that may be transmitted to passengers. Once cruise lines have knowledge that a disease, such as Zika, is present at any of its destinations, the cruise line should get in touch with passengers that have booked the cruise to provide information so that the passengers may decide if they wish to travel. Additionally, cruise lines should post this information on their websites so that potential guests may make an informed decision about their vacations.

Cruise Line Liability for Injuries and Severe Weather Conditions

We like to think that for the most part, cruising is safe. However, with any type of transportation, automobile, railroad, plane, or cruise ship—accidents may happen. When the negligence of the cruise ship operator, staff captain lead to injuries, the cruise line may be liable. Experienced cruise ship injury attorneys in Miami, Florida help these victims obtain the maximum compensation available under the law.

Most cruise lines sail all year long even during hurricane season. Our firm has represented cruise ship passengers in situations where severe weather was in the immediate forecast. For instance, during hurricane season, cruise line operators still decide to stay the course and thinking they can out run, or maneuver around some of these storms. Some cruise ship captains have testified that the cruise ship is made to withstand extreme weather conditions. But are cruise ship passengers? Probably not. Cruise line officials should monitor weather conditions to ensure their passengers will be safe during their cruises. If it appears that inclement weather, high seas, or winds may compromise the safety of cruise passengers, the cruise should be rerouted to avoid the storm. Perhaps not even depart from port. If a storm arises after a cruise has embarked, the captain must determine what reasonable steps should be taken.

Leading Cruise Lines Neglect Swimming Pool Safety Despite Tragic Drowning Accidents

When families elect to take advantage of the convenience and luxury of a cruise, the children predictably will spend lots of time in the pool.  Many parents do not worry about the safety of their kids because cruise ships are filled with large staffs that often create an illusion of safety.  What parents might not know is that several major cruise lines elect not to provide lifeguards for the safety of their guests.  The failure to implement this basic safety measure is particularly troubling because the cruise industry has had its share of drowning and near-drowning accidents involving children.  Given that approximately 1.5 million children travel on cruise ships annually, the investment in lifeguards to reduce the risk of drowning accidents seems to be a justified expense.  Nonetheless, our cruise ship lawyers recognize that major cruise lines continue to gamble on the safety of their young guests by ignoring this obvious safety precaution.

Cruise Lines Continue to Place Saving Money Over Passenger Safety

According to the United States Coast Guard, a Carnival cruise ship passenger fell overboard on a the Carnival Ecstasy over Labor Day Weekend.  But if you ask Carnival cruise lines, they have already publicly stated that the passenger was witnessed jumping overboard. If Carnivals version is the truth, then this is poor public relations in my opinion. Regardless, these are certainly very different versions of what happened. The cruise ship passenger has been identified as Rina Patel, of New York. The vessel was located about 15 miles off Grand Bahama Island. Our cruise ship lawyers are monitoring the situation. According to reports, USCG “man overboard procedures” were initiated. However, it is unclear what procedures if any Carnival followed and if they did, when they were initiated.  If the passenger in fact jumped, then there should be evidence to support Carnival’s public statement that the passenger was observed jumping. Yet, the USCG reports and other media outlets suggests negligence. However, what facts the investigation yields and what the CCTV cameras show will shed light on whether this was accidental or not.

As a maritime personal lawyer in Miami, Florida that has litigated many cruise ship cases against many  cruise lines operators including Carnival, it is astonishing that Carnival would come out and publicly state that the passenger jumped or committed suicide before any of the investigation or facts or details are revealed about the investigation.

The Cruise Ship Vessel Safety and Security Act mandates that serious crimes including missing person incidents  are reported immediately to the United States Coast Guard. However, there is no private right of action for failure to violate this important federal statute. So, while the guidelines by CVSSA are straight forward, there is virtually little in the way of a legal remedy in the event these rules promulgated by the US Congress are not followed.

Over the Juy 4th weekend, it was reported that multiple passengers were seriously injured on the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. The most serious incidents includes a report that an 8 year old child drowned in the ship pool. In addition, several other passengers reported orthopedic injuries and possibly broken bones due to slip, trip and fall hazards on the Anthem as well. One passenger has already contacted the cruise ship injury lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA to discuss potential clams she may have against this cruise line for their negligence. Under federal maritime law, cruise line operators are required to provide reasonable care under the circumstances. What reasonable care means however, depends on the facts of each case and can vary depending on a number of factors that need to be carefully analyzed by a law firm that specializes in maritime law.

The latest drowning incident highlights the long need for cruise ships to employ lifeguards in their pools facilities. Legal and safety advocates state that the cruise lines are not legally required to employ lifeguards. However, given the increase number of drowning incidents in recent years, cruise line operators have been pressed to utilize lifeguards just as any other water, or recreation facility to make these attractions more safe. In this case, the 8 year old boy had to be medevaced from the ship. He was eventually taken back to Staten Island. His current medical condition is unknown.  The investigation into the drowning incident and other unfortunate accidents and injuries that occurred on the latest Anthem of the Seas will be evaluated over the next several months. Gerson & Schwartz lawyers have over 45 years experience representing accident and injury victims on both land and sea. Our lawyers are ready and willing to assist you with a potential legal claim against all of the major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Holland America and others.  For more information on how we can help, contact the cruise ship accident attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA, for more information. All cases are handled under a contingent fee.

1c919lp8While swarms of people embark on cruise ships annually, crimes committed upon them seem to run rampant. What is sad is that many individuals who commit crimes aboard cruise ships actually get away with their crimes. It is a mess. What makes it even messier is the existence of the jurisdiction issue. A congressional hearing in 2007 revealed that in the past three years, 28 people have disappeared while on cruise ships. Of these, only three have been found! There have been 200 reported cases of assault or sexual misconduct aboard cruise ships. There have been four cases reported of grand theft. True, this may not appear to be a huge number of incidents.  Yet, it is a large number when you take into consideration the several nuances of enforcing the law at sea. Most of these cases have not been sufficiently investigated and few have even been solved.

If you are a victim of crime or injury at sea, to best safeguard your interests, it is imperative that you hire an attorney for your case. The experienced Miami maritime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz PA are here for you. We have the experience and skill needed to take on your case.  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.

Jurisdiction at Sea

P1070996Cruises 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

file2021238176025Despite today’s poor economy, the cruise industry is certainly thriving. Cruise Market Watch, an online database, predicts that the cruise line industry will grow at a rate of 7% between now and 2017. People normally embark on cruises for one key reason: to escape the stresses of ordinary life. Yet, despite the opportunity to rest and relax, please be advised that you are not out of harm’s way.

For instance, a tragic incident recently occurred on a Disney Cruise ship when a grandfather’s thumb was amputated. Marco Acosta, 73, was enjoying his time on a Disney cruise ship preparing for the Captain’s dinner when the horrific injury occurred. Mr. Acosta was standing near a hallway door with his thumb on the doorframe, while his wife was also holding the door open with her foot. She moved her foot and the door “slammed shut with force” on Mr. Acosta’s thumb, severing it. Mr. Acosta visited a Cruise nurse who bandaged the wound and put the severed thumb on ice. It was days before Mr. Acosta had the opportunity to see a doctor. By this time, it was too late to reattach his severed digit.

Mr. Acosta filed a lawsuit against the cruise line, alleging that Disney’s negligence resulted in his injury. The lawsuit alleges:

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