Articles Posted in Recreational Watercraft Accidents

On July 24, 2014 a senate Committee Hearing chaired by retiring Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, illustrated the necessity for better enforcement of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act 0f 2010Act. The Bill S. 1340, known as the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, perfects the intent of congress in passing the 2010 legislation. Despite, efforts made by the cruise lines to thwart the passage of this legislation, crime victim advocates and personal injury attorneys such as Miami based lawyer, Philip M. Gerson of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. still pursue justice for passengers on the high seas. Mr. Gerson addressed congress detailing the negligent behavior of the cruise line industry and its trade group, Cruise Lines Industry Association, commonly referred to as CLIA. Mr. Gerson illustrated how cruise ship owners suppress the facts, rather than honestly report them to their passengers. These organizations and individuals alike, boast that its passengers are safer at sea, when this is clearly not the case.

At the senate hearing Mr. Gerson emphasized, how ship security is on board to protect the ship owners, not their passenger customers. Moreover, he pointed out how the legal relationship between the passenger and the cruise line is deliberately written in a way that is difficult to understand. Due to the fact, that the contractual terms which individuals sign are printed in tiny font and using legal and maritime terms that cannot be understood by the average person who takes a cruise, the rights of crime victims on board a cruise are often signed away before they even embark.

The compelling stories of three witnesses who spoke at this hearing demonstrated how difficult it has been for victims to seek or obtain protection before, or assistance after, violent and brutal crimes such as rape and sexual assault occur. Mr. Gerson continued to express deep concern for women and children who are unsafe while at sea. These vulnerable populations in particular are targeted by sexual predators often including crew members hired to work on board the ship. Sometimes, individuals hired as security guards who passengers understandably believe are on board to protect guests are the very ones who are committing these heinous crimes. More importantly, there is absolutely no police protection, on board these floating cities, and so defenseless passengers are left to protect themselves.

On August 15, 2012 a 28 year old woman from Connecticut plunged to her death after taking a parasailing ride with her husband in Fort Lauderdale. A major investigation is underway by various agencies including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Coast Guard, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and the National Transportation Safety Board. This catastrophic event leading to the wrongful death of Kathleen Miskell, could very well have been attributed to the negligence of the Wave Blast Water Sports company which has been operating out of the Sands Harbor Resort & Marina, offering parasailing rides to the public.

There is an ongoing debate at this point, between the Sands Harbor hotel and its attorneys and the owner of Wave Blast and his attorney as to who is the responsible party for this tragic and senseless accident. According to Charles Seitz, president and chief executive of the Sands Harbor, the Wave Blast company was only authorized for water bike operation and not for parasailing. Chandler maintains that Wave Blast was conducting its parasailing business without the knowledge of the hotel ownership, and was using its public dock space to pick up parasailers.

Nevertheless, the water bike rental business at the hotel has been reopened and is still advertising water bike rentals as well as parasailing trips from this same hotel. Doesn’t it seem odd that, the hotel will not claim responsibility for this death, yet they have permitted the parasailing company to reopen and advertise from its property, once again?

Attorneys like Nicholas Gerson at Gerson & Schwartz, PA understand the connections between operating a business and the legal responsibilities associated with it. If an entity is conducting business such as parasailing excursions from its property, then they should accept responsibility for the injuries or deaths, that result from their negligence. Maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA are familiar with these kinds of cases and understand what kinds of investigations are necessary in order to bring a law suit against a responsible party.
If faulty equipment is to blame or if equipment is old, worn out and poorly maintained, serious injury can occur. Parasailing is a dangerous sport and harnesses’ must be kept up to date. As the case unfolds, injury attorneys will be able to help determine through the use of experts, whether or not poor maintenance is to blame. Decomposition of a harness can lead to serious injury or death, as seems to be the case this time.

Continue reading

drunk-boaters-web.jpgMIAMI, FL— June 27, 2011- In light of the upcoming July 4th holiday, The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) once again coordinated Operation Dry Water, in which U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) officers around the nation spent the weekend of July 24-26, 2011 cracking down on boating under the influence (BUI). According to information provided by the Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water was first launched in 2009 as a means of targeting drunk boaters to in turn cut recreational boating accidents and fatalities.
Coast Guard statistics suggest approximately 17 percent of all recreational boating deaths (about 300 boat accidents and 124 fatalities each year) are attributed to the consumption of alcohol while boating on the water. Furthermore, it is estimated that a boater who has a blood alcohol level above .10 percent is about 10 times as likely to suffer fatal injuries in a boating accident than a boat operator who did not consume any alcohol.

The USCG further noted that there are many factors that can make a drunk boater and his/her passengers even more susceptible to injury or death. First off, alcohol is known to hinder the boater’s “judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time,” while also making the operator more prone to fatigue and vulnerable to the adverse effects of cold water immersion. Secondly, physical stressors known to heighten the affects of alcohol—“sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion”—can also pose dangers for boaters.

In 2010, NASBLA collected reports from 50 states participating in Operation Dry Water and found that 2,708 Coast Guard officers took to nationwide waters to strictly enforce BUI laws. That year, officers contacted 66,472 boaters and made 322 drunk boating arrests. Additionally, officers issued 7,522 safety warnings and 4,171 citations for various other boating violations.
Noting that it is not out of the ordinary for many boaters to consider alcohol and boating mutually inclusive during holidays such as Independence Day weekend,
the Miami boat accident attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. urged those planning to spend any time in the water to heed caution.

Continue reading

badges