Articles Posted in maritime accidents

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.

While the exact details of the accident are still under investigation, what is clear is that a crew member died in a Carnival Ecstasy elevator while passengers caught glimpses of the gruesome scene. The ship was in the last legs of a Caribbean cruise departing from Miami when Florida residents Matt Davis and his wife were walking toward the elevator and noticed it was malfunctioning, only partly open and dripping with a copious amount of blood. When they alerted the cruise ship’s staff, they were told to leave the scene and enter the restaurant.

Miami-Dade police are currently investigating the freak accident that killed electrician Jose Sandoval Opazo, 66, of Liguria, Italy. Carnival Cruise Line has been reluctant to provide many details regarding the incident but do extend their support to the victim and his family. Witnesses of the accident say that crew members told them that Opazo was working either inside or behind the elevator when the elevator came down. If you were injured or lost a loved one aboard a cruise ship consider contacting a Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorney.

Carnival Cruise Line has been fraught with controversy surrounding various catastrophic accidents in recent years. In 2012 the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people. The cause of the accident was the hubris of the ship’s captain who intentionally steered the ship too close to shore. In 2013 the Carnival Triumph caught fire, which knocked out the ship’s power, leaving the cruise stranded for four days without working toilets.

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.

When you fly on a commercial airplane, you have an expectation that the airline has met specific safety regulations. The same goes for a trip on an Amtrak train. However, such an expectation is absent, or at least should be, when you purchase a ticket on a cruise ship. Why? Because the cruise ship industry is an unregulated industry. This is extremely concerning to our team of cruise ship injury attorneys.

International Waters: Free For All

When a cruise ship visits a U.S. port, it must meet some regulations and is subject to inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard. However, if you are taking a cruise that goes into international waters (e.g., cruise voyages to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, etc.) only the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has authority over safety and operational standards. The IMO is part of the United Nations and generally does not exercise strict regulatory oversight. In fact, the IMO has never ordered the docking of multiple ships based on safety concerns and it is unclear that it even has that authority, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, popularly dubbed as the Jones Act, is a federal law that aims to protect the rights of seamen in cases of on-board accidents or death. Pursuant to the Jones Act, compensation can be claimed by a workman employed on a marine vessel when an injury is brought upon by the careless act of an employer or co-worker in the course of his or her employment. Vessel owners can likewise be liable if an injury takes place owing to the dangerous conditions on the ship. Our team of experienced Miami maritime lawyers understand the Jones Act and want to ensure any injured seaman, or a loved one, has the information they need to determine whether they have a viable claim under this federal law.

Federal courts have deciphered the term “sailor” to mean a person who is employed in a vessel or fleet that operates in waterways used for national or international commerce, or in other words, operates in navigable waters. As long as the person is engaged in some kind of work that is related with the vessel’s objective, the relative significance of the sailor’s expected set of job responsibilities is not critical in order to assert a claim under the Jones Act.

If you suffer an injury while working on a vessel, take the following action:

A lawsuit based in maritime has been filed in the brutal beating of a cruise passenger that we mentioned on our blog a few weeks ago. With the filing of the lawsuit, the victim’s attorney has revealed the carelessness of the cruise line that contributed to the vicious attack. Our Florida maritime law firm is monitoring the case closely.

The Horrific Attack

The case stems from a  Holland America cruise ship passenger was brutally beaten by a Holland America employee, who apparently had a master key and used it to gain entry into the victim’s cabin. The employee tried to strangle the woman with a phone cord, smashed her with a laptop and other blunt objects, and even tried to throw her overboard. She was also sexually assaulted. At one point, her oxygen supply was completely cut off from the choking. The entire attack lasted about an hour, until the victim managed to escape the cabin into the hallway.

A young Clemson University college student died on a cruise ship recently after plunging 2 stories from an upper to a lower deck. The student had climbed a front mast with about 5 other friends, all to observe the sunset.

There are no reports that the student was drinking; in fact, most accounts state that he was just talking about life with friends.

The problem, however, was that he was actually standing in a restricted area, having climbed the ship’s mast, in close proximity to the ship’s radar. When the radar moved, as it often does, it apparently pushed the student off the ledge and onto a running track below, a fall of about 20 feet.

If you are injured at sea, you may think that regular laws that will apply to you, and your rights to recovery would be the same as if you were injured on land. In fact, this is not true at all. As our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys have discussed before in this blog, there are many nuanced differences between maritime law and state laws. One such difference has to do with punitive damages.

What Are Punitive Damages?

As the name suggests, punitive damages are not designed to compensate an injury victim at all—the goal of punitive damages is to punish the negligent party for behavior so outrageous or unacceptable that an extra, often large, monetary punishment is necessary. Like a criminal law sentence, there is also an element of deterrent involved—other companies that see severe economic penalties assessed against a wrongdoer may be more likely to modify their behavior and take measures to protect their patrons or customers.

We all know that if you’re injured while on a cruise, there’s a good chance that if anybody is liable for your injuries, it’s the cruise line. Inside the confines of the ship, it is the cruise line’s responsibility to make sure there’s nothing that’s going to injure you. But what about once you leave the ship, for the so-called excursions? Getting injured while on an excursion presents an entire host of difficult legal questions.

The Danger of Excursions

Excursions are the off-ship adventures that you take when the ship docks at a port of call. Excursions can include scuba diving, snorkeling, watersports, caveing/spelunking, traversing waterfalls, interacting with wildlife, or organized tours of the locale.

If you sustain personal injuries, certainly your own pain, suffering, loss of income, and other damages may be recoverable against a responsible party. Often though a victim’s injuries don’t just affect them, but also the people around them, such as spouses. Spouses of injured victims may also lose vital aspects of companionship when their significant other is injured. Those losses can often be recovered by the spouse if the injury occurs in Florida, but the law is unclear whether that’s true if a victim is injured at sea. Our Florida maritime accident attorneys can help you understand the specifics regarding your individual case.

Spouse Becomes Separate Plaintiff in Case

A spouse who loses the companionship, intimacy, or daily comfort of their loved one’s health, has what is called a loss of consortium claim. The spouse will be a separate Plaintiff, suing along with the directly injured spouse.

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