Articles Posted in maritime accidents

Despite 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:

Embarking on a cruise vacation is something that most of us truly enjoy. It is even more special when your family is all together. Yet, as with any other form of vacationing, accidents can happen. For example, just recently, on a central Florida-bound cruise ship, nearly 35 miles east of Cape Lookout, two children were discovered unconscious in a pool around 11:30 a.m. The older child was ultimately revived and flown by a Marine Corps helicopter to a nearby hospital.  Unfortunately, the younger child died onboard the ship.

This was certainly a tragic event that should not have occurred. The cruise line itself should consider several safety procedures to ensure this never happens again. There should have been a lifeguard, or two, watching over swimmers in the pool. Not all injuries to children on board cruise ships are fatal, but injuries to children on cruise ships are all too common. If your child is injured on a cruise ship, he or she may be entitled to substantial compensation. It is important that you hire an attorney for your case. The Miami maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz PA are here to help! We know the relevant laws and have over 80 combined years of representing cruise ship passengers and crewmembers that are injured.   

Premises Liability on Cruise Ships          

Are you contemplating suing a particular cruise line? These suits are not uncommon. Recently, a group of 33 Carnival passengers sued Carnival Cruise Lines for damages after an engine fire left the cruise ship adrift for five days. The affected passengers asked the company to pay $5,000 per month for the remainder of their lives for mental anguish and medical expenses.  Their cruise ship, after suffering an engine fire, was left without power, air conditioning, and operating toilets. A federal judge in Florida heard arguments from each side. Said judge found that the cruise line was negligent for the engine fire and awarded damages to the class.       

There are countless reasons why you may wish to sue a cruise line. Maybe you were injured on the ship or suffered sickness from undercooked cruise ship food. Or maybe you were the victim of a crime on the ship due to lack of security measures. Or maybe the suspect was actually a crewmember! It is important that you consult your cruise ticket. This is because cruise lines inoculate themselves against passenger lawsuits by printing stringent terms on their tickets that require passengers to waive their right to a class action lawsuit.

Whatever the reason may be for your desired lawsuit, the process of taking action against a cruise line is quite complex. It is therefore highly advisable that you retain an experienced maritime attorney like the ones found at Gerson & Schwartz PA. We know the relevant laws and have over 80 combined years of representing cruise ship passengers and crewmembers that are injured.

Closeup of assorted coins.

In our last post we discussed the process of filing a claim against a cruise line. This post will delve into  settlements. There is actually a lot involved with settlements in any case. Upfront, however, please be aware that often times cruise lines will not settle without a reason. In obvious liability cases, the cruise line operator may realize that the odds are against them. Other times, companies may settle as a business decision. However, that decision depends on the injuries involved, vialibility of the legal theories at issue. At times, the public may think that because they read about a court settlement that the cruise line company will just fold. What they do not always realize is that many settlements dont even happen until hours and hours of work take place. Sometimes, the cruiseline companies may settle just before trial.  Cases can even settle during a trial or before the case is presented to a jury.

If you seek to bring a personal injury claim against a cruise line company  you should always hire an experienced attorney for your best chances of receiving a fair and just settlement. The maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz PA are here to help. Our attorneys know the relevant laws and value of personal injury claims while representing cruise ship passengers and crewmembers that are injured.

Vacationing overseas on a cruise continues to be a very popular form of vacation and appeals to all generations. Despite its popularity, accidents can occur. These accidents are sometimes fatal.  Just recently, off the coast of Florida, a family boarded the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship for a Christmas time cruise. On a Sunday evening, they were headed to dinner when they witnessed blood streaming down the doors of an elevator. Jose Sandoval Opazo was killed while working on an elevator on board the cruise ship. He was employed as an electrician on the cruise ship.  This is certainly a tragic story, yet, death overseas can suddenly happen to anyone embarking on a cruise.

If a death occurs more than three nautical miles from the coast, the Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”) will apply. If a loved one’s death was caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional act of another on a cruise ship, family members can recover for their pain, suffering, and monetary losses by filing a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. It is important that you hire an experienced wrongful death attorney. Doing so can ensure that you receive compensation for the financial consequences and for your pain and suffering from the devastating loss. The experienced Miami wrongful death attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA are here to help. Our Miami wrongful death attorneys are Florida board certified trial lawyers and have also handled several wrongful death cases.

Death on the High Seas Act

On February 6, 2016, nearly 4,500 passengers boarded Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Anthem of the Seas and departed on a trip to the Florida and the Bahamas. Unfortunately, a severe storm began the next day. Said storm was accompanied by wind gusts of up to 120 miles-per-hour and about 40-foot tall waves! Due to the severity of the storm, the ship’s captain ordered everyone to remain in their rooms. One passenger, Mr. Simpson, brought a negligence lawsuit against the cruise line. Mr. Simpson alleges that the captain of the cruise ship had knowledge of the approaching storm and neglected the safety of the passengers. The captain negligently opted to sail through a hurricane. During the hurricane, the ship shook so violently that Mr. Simpson was thrown 18 feet across his room. He sustained a concussion, a bruise on his left eye, an injured wrist and pains and bruising on his torso, ribs, and neck. Mr. Simpson now seeks to recover damages in physical injury, physical pain and suffering, impairment and economic insecurity.

What to Do if You Suffer an Injury on a Cruise Ship

First of all, please be advised that you must act quickly if you or your loved one suffers an injury at the fault of a cruise line. As a matter of fact, at the moment you purchase your cruise ship ticket, you are entering into a binding contract with the cruise line. This particular contract, once in writing, specifies how long you have to file a lawsuit if you are injured, for example. What is noteworthy is that this time limit can be as short as six months to one year. For this reason, it is imperative that you retain an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible to begin working on your case.

On October 1, 2015, a freighter ship by the name of El Fargo sank in 15,000 feet of water near the Bahamas. All 33 of its crewmembers died in the sinking. In Florida, a family of a now deceased crewmember filed a lawsuit under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as theJones Act,” against the captain and owner of the ship, Michael Davidson. The freighter ship departed from Jacksonville, Florida en route to Puerto Rico carrying cars and other cargo. The ship eventually lost power to its engine and failed to avoid a category four hurricane. The Florida wrongful death lawsuit filed against the ship’s owner and captain demands $100 million in damages. Basically, the captain and owner of the freighter ship negligently decided to sail the 41-year-old freighter ship into the dangerous storm, putting all passengers’ and crewmembers’ lives at great risk.                  

First, however, to be protected under the Jones Act, the worker must establish that he is a seaman. A seaman is a person who spends a large amount of time working as a captain or as a crewmember on a vessel that is considered to be in navigation. If you or your loved one is an injured crewmember or captain, it is imperative that you hire an experienced maritime lawyer to establish your entitlement to legal protections under the Jones Act. The maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA provide legal representation for seriously injured crewmembers and ship employees. For over 40 years, our lawyers have litigated these complex claims. Our personal injury law firm will fight for your legal rights.

Your Rights under the Jones Act

Four passengers were injured onboard Royal Carribean’s Anthem of the Seas after the ship was caught in dangerous weather conditions last weekend. The Anthem of the Seas encountered hurricane force winds, with some gusts reportedly reaching 130 miles per hour with 30-40 foot waves. The nature and extent of those injured are not currently known. At first, Royal Carriban reported no injuries. However, later news reports once the vessel came ashore stated no serious injuries. Martime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA state that this is not the first time an RCCL passenger ship has knowingly left the port and cruised directly into the teeth of dangerous weather conditions, jeapordizinf the life and safey of passengers. In 2012, RCCL vessel “Freedom of the Seas” encountered danerous and severe weather conditions including hurrcan force winds and high seas after the vessel set sail into a developing tropical cyclone system/ tropical storm just after it departed off the Florida east Coast.  This was despite forecasts and warnings that a storm was likely to develop prior to leaving port Canaveral, Florida.

In the 2012 “Freedom” incident, passengers were thrown about and across the ship along along with plates, dishes, and everything else imagineable.  Fixtures fell, ceilings were falling, youtube vidoes and social media captured the pure chaos experienced by many. In a federal lawsuit filed, attorneys from Gerson & Schwartz, PA argued that the Royal Carribean ship should never have decided to set sail and risked the lives and safety of passengers by placing them into harms way. Many passengers sustained serious injuries because a decision to set sail was made despite clear warnings from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane center of the potential for rapid tropical cyclone development.

In the Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship accident lawyers say they will need to get a hold of the weather reports and forecasts to see whether the “Anthem of the Seas” should have taken another route, or simply stayed in port as well.  The decision to sail rests with the captain. If the captain feels that it is unsafe for the vessel to depart he can make the decision that the ship should stay in port. The decision to remain in port can also be made shoreside. Weather buoys located in the Atlantic can also provide adavance warnings of expected wind and sea conditions  in advance, along with the weather forecasts. Generally speaking, sudden and drastic weather phenomenons are not actionable negligence under the law because they may deemed acts of god or unforseeable in nature and difficult to prevent.  But, cruise ships are also equipped with state of the art weather forecasting technology that should make cruise line companies accountable if they do decide to stay there course, despite clear weather warnings.

Cruise ship slip and fall accidents happen all too often. That is especially so on the vessel Carnival Breeze. The “Breeze” had it’s maiden voyage in June 2012 making it a relatively new ship in the Carnival fleet and is one of Carnival’s largest passenger ships. It is part of the “Dream” Class, and holds roughly 3,900 passengers and 900 crew members.  Slip and fall accidents inside lido market place restaurant seem to happen so frequently some wonder, should the largest cruise line in the wold take the ship out of service? The lido market place on the Breeze is located on deck 10. What you may not know is that the Lido market place restaurant is notorious for slip and fall accidents, many of which result in serious injuries. Slip and falls happen in the Lido on the Breeze can happen even when the floors appear dry and without any warning and at any time. The cruise ship injury lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA have represented numerous passengers injured inside the Lido market place. Slip and fall accidents happen with such regularity on this particular vessel that it heightened attention within Carnival shortly after the vessel was placed into service in June 2012.  Testing of the tile floor surfaces inside the Lido have proven they have inadequate and poor slip resistance properties and are  even known to be defective are  dangerous. The end result, dozens upon dozens of slip and fall accidents with serious injuries. Despite actual knowledge of the dangers in the Lido market place, Carnival doesn’t warn its passengers about the dangers that the tile floor surfaces pose and which they know.

Due to the number and nature of slip and fall accidents that occur on an almost regular basis and the failure of Carnival to find a permanent solution to the problem legal claims for punitive damages are not out of question for thse cruise ship accident and injury victims. Generally speaking, punitive damages are uncommon in slip and fall accident lawsuits. That is because the legal standard for punitive damages under federal maritime law requires a much higher burden to meet and more difficult to prove in the court room.  Injury victims must prove conduct of that is either intentional harm, “gross negligence” or concious disregard for the life and safety of others. But, lido makret place slip and fall accidents on the Carnival Breeze occurr so frequently that they are warranted on this particular ship says, maritime attorney Nicholas I. Gerson with Gerson & Schwartz, PA. Why doesn’t Carnival just repair or replace the tile floor surfaces? According to Gerson, it’s really more of a business decision. “Profits over safety”, What else? As far as the Breeze is concerned, money and the financial implications of taking a huge passenger ship out of service would be very costly. This is one of Carnival’s premier money makers. The Breeze departs nearly every week. It holds the most passengers of all Carnival’s 24 ships and doesn’t’ travel all that far, nor are the trips very long.

At a minimum, the Breeze would likely have to be out of service for anywhere from two weeks to a month, maybe longer. When you calculate the amount of money that Carnival would have to forfeit, return, or lose, it appears that it makes more business sense for them to just wait until the ship goes into dry dock. The Breeze  is not scheduled to go into dry dock until sometime in late 2017. In the latest lawsuit filed against Carnival regarding the Breeze, punitive damages have been included in two lawsuites  filed. Carnival has already moved to dismiss the punitive damages claims early on in the law suit process . Their motion was rightfully denied. In other words, the presiding United States District Court judge believed that based on the allegations in the complaint and combination of the applicable federal law, the claims for punitive damages should be decided on the merits.

Embarking on a cruise ship vacation, to most, is a great experience accompanied with relaxation and exploration. Nevertheless, catastrophic and often fatal accidents can and do occur on cruise ships. For instance, recently a ten-year-old girl drowned in a swimming pool on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Said ship had to sail immediately to a nearby port in Florida. This incident occurred on a Sunday afternoon when the ship’s medical team responded to an emergency call from the pool deck that a ten-year-old female guest was reported unresponsive.  Of course, the medical team administered quick CPR and proper emergency care. After countless efforts, the guest could not be revived.

In all, if you or a loved one is injured on a cruise ship, it is important that you hire an experienced maritime attorney. The relevant law governing your case may be complex. In fact, there are special laws both federal and international that govern injury and death lawsuits that take place at sea. Additionally, statutes of limitations are much shorter, sometimes only six months from the date of incident. If your accident occurred on navigable waters, either near the United States or near a foreign shore, this presents complex legal issues and admiralty, maritime, and even foreign laws may apply to your particular case.  

Our Miami, Florida maritime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz PA have plentiful experience filing claims against all the major cruise lines. Our attorneys are skilled at representing passengers and crew members who suffer serious and catastrophic injuries. If you are injured, we will fight to enforce your legal rights. We also will not hesitate to bring your case to trial if a fair settlement offer is not made.

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