Articles Posted in Negligence

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

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.

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.

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.

A US District Court in Seattle awarded $21.5 million in damages to a man from Illinois who suffered injuries from a faulty door on a Holland America cruise ship. The man received a minor brain injury after a sliding glass door closed on his head. The sum was awarded by a unanimous decision by a jury after a nine day trial. If you were injured or lost a loved one aboard a cruise ship, consider contacting a Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorney.

The attorneys for the injured man were able to provide evidence to the court that other passengers had been similarly injured by sliding glass doors in multiple Holland America cruise ships. Faulty sensor settings on the door allegedly are what contributed to these accidents.

The Illinois man was traveling with his family on a 280-day world cruise aboard Holland America’s Pacific fleet flagship, the M/S Amsterdam. The ship was in open water, approaching Hawaii, when the man followed cruise ship employees through the sliding glass door, which automatically closed when the man was half way through, striking him in the side of the head and face. Holland America argued in court that the man had walked into the closing doors and that the doors did not close on him. The closing doors gave the man a facial contusion, concussion and chipped tooth. Despite his injuries the man was still able to finish the entire cruise journey.

Earlier last week our Cruise Ship Lawyers sought and received a court order under Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 (b) in the  form of issue based sanctions against Defendant Carnival Cruise Lines in a lawsuit brought by Mrs. Esperanza Viletta in the case of Viletta v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Case No. 11-20930. The sanctions were ordered by United States Magistrate Judge John O’Sullivan and were upheld by United States District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga in a six (6) page written order. Click this link to read the Order. The sanctions were issued based on a myriad of discovery violations including express denials by Defendant Carnival concerning the failure to disclose and otherwise hide the existence of certain documents, reports, and based on record testimony by Carnival’s Corporate Representative in deposition. In her order, Judge Altonaga held that the sanctions entered were warranted and over Carnivals objections, were not contrary to the law despite their severity and should “deter” Carnival and p0tentially others from similar conduct in the future.

In the October 30, 2014 order, the court determined the appropriate sanctions were a determination that as a matter of law that 1.)Notice of a dangerous condition and the existence of a dangerous condition was established prior to trial and 2.) Defendant’s affirmative defense as to lack of notice was stricken.  Junior Partner, Nicholas I. Gerson, of the Miami personal injury law offices of Gerson & Schwartz, PA served as lead counsel and argued the matter in the United States District  Court for the Southern District of Florida. At an October 28, 2014 hearing, Gerson argued that the type of sanctions were necessary in order to cure the prejudice against his client and that absent such relief would only benefit Carnival and would ultimately reward Carnival for hiding important evidence. The Court agreed.

At issue was Carnival’s express denial that it had not made any changes to the yellow tile floor surfaces in the Lido market place restaurant on the Carnival Breeze. Despite their denials,  Carnival had in fact applied a slip resistant coating to the market place floor surfaces on the vessel and had even conducted tests to check the floors for slip resistance before the application. The existence of reports and Carnivals’ findings of  test results were also repeatedly denied by Carnival throughout the lawsuit. Yet as it turned out the floor surfaces were changed and documented proof of the testing performed confirmed the floors fell  below the standard of care for slip resistance and were dangerous as alleged by the Plaintiff. The reference to reports were buried in several emails that were produced and after numerous hearings where Carnival took the position that no documents existed. The reports were eventually ordered to be produced by the Court and when they were disclosed the reports showed Carnival was aware about the dangers of the floor surfaces prior to Ms. Viletta’s incident and were even specific to the area where Ms. Viletta had fallen. The Miami personal injury lawyers  of Gerson & Schwartz represent  injury victims on land and sea. If you or a loved one are in need of  aggressive legal representation contact the Miami Florida personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA at 1-877-475-2905 , or visit www.injuryattorneyfla.com. All cases are handled on a contingent fee.

 

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