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Cruise ships can offer an idyllic atmosphere and experience for passengers. However, poor shipboard safety and training may turn a dream vacation into the most unwanted nightmare for passengers and their families. The harm from these maritime accidents may be compounded by the antiquated laws that govern cruise ship accidents and fatalities.

An Alabama couple was killed in a cruise ship on the Amazon last April after a fire broke out in their cabin. The deaths may have been prevented if the ship was equipped with its advertised safety devices and the crew was properly trained, according to a Peruvian Navy report.

The fire was attributed to short-circuit in a power strip provided by the ship and connected to a CPAP machine used by the male victim. The flames were confined to their cabin. However, the poor construction and tragedy compounded the fire’s impacted.

Cruises are supposed to be a fun vacation, an escape from work and stress at home. Unfortunately, for many cruise passengers, their dream vacation can turn into a nightmare if they become seriously ill on board. Many cruise lines have made the news when outbreaks of norovirus were reported onboard their ships. Norovirus is a highly contagious illness that causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and, sometimes, fever and headache. It is usually spread by physical touch, or it may also spread through contaminated water and food. In a cruise ship, where thousands of passengers may be staying in tight quarters for a week or longer, norovirus can spread quickly. If the ship’s crew has failed to properly clean and sanitize the ship, the cruise line may be liable for injuries. Our Florida cruise ship injury attorneys specialize in a wide range injury and accident cases such as crime on cruise ships to slip, trip and fall accidents.

MORE ABOUT CRUISE SHIP HEALTH CONCERNS

Legionnaire’s Disease is also not uncommon on cruise ships. The bacterium that causes the disease, Legionella, thrives in warm water. Hot tubs and the plumbing systems on cruise ships are often the perfect settings for these bacteria to grow. Legionnaire’s Disease is deadly. Roughly 15 percent of those who catch the disease will die. If hot tubs are not sufficiently heated on cruise ships, passengers are at risk of becoming ill. The bacterium is killed by hot water.

800px-Cruise_ship_Amadea_(2)Rapes and sexual assaults on cruise ships happen often. Recently, 1,700 young students boarded the Luxury MS Galaxy cruise ship on a trip to Finland. What was intended to be a rewarding experienced turned ended in tragedy. Eight male passengers between the ages of 18 and 19 were arrested when the cruise ship landed.  Said men face charges of gang-raping a female student and aggravated rape. The attack occurred inside one of the ship’s cabins. One of these eight men has a prior criminal conviction. Two of these eight men are actually suspects in a separate high-profile murder case in Stockholm. Said murder occurred in November of 2015. As suspects to the murder case they were released pending trial and provided the opportunity to violently offend again.

If you or a loved one have been attacked on a cruise, it is imperative that you hire an attorney for your case. The Miami maritime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA have the experience and skill needed for your case. For a FREE initial consultation, call (305) 371-6000 or toll free at (877)-475-2905.  You can also contact us online at info@gslawusa.com.

Sexual Assault and Sexual Battery

DSCN0824Two employees on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship were recently arrested after being accused of using sandals to smuggle drugs into Florida. They were bringing drugs into Port Canaveral. One of the two employees was a courier for at least one drug trafficking organization. Police officers began following the employee as he left Port Canaveral and they saw him and another employee smuggling cocaine with the use of sandals. Junior Ellison, 31 years of age, was arrested aboard the cruise ship as he was walking away with the cocaine. It was found that the sandals were purchased from Wal-Mart. It was also later found that each time Ellison left the ship he took a shuttle to a Merritt Island Wal-Mart. Authorities discovered that Ellison would obtain sandals filled with cocaine in St. Maarten and then wear them off the ship.  Ellison would make his trip to Wal-Mart, purchase a new pair of sandals, and then place the cocaine-filled sandals in the Wal-Mart bag to deliver to someone else.         

Many people are victimized when a person, or people, commits the crime of drug trafficking.  Perhaps your money was stolen by a person intending to use it to purchase drugs or paraphernalia. If you are a victim of a crime, it is imperative that you hire an attorney. The experienced Miami maritime lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA are here for you!

Drug Distribution in Florida

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.

Almost 270 people had their dreams turned into a nightmare in a fraction of a second when the 286-foot cruise ship Saint Laurent struck a wall in a river lock in the Saint Lawrence Seaway in northern New York. The ship, which was full of tourists, was headed from Montreal to Toronto when it slammed into an approach wall bumper and started taking on water, injuring 19 passengers and 3 crew members, according to the official report of the U.S. Coast Guard. Our team of Miami personal injury attorneys sincerely hope that the passengers and crew members make a speedy recovery after this awful incident.

file7241281863954Each year, numerous cruise ship passengers face similar incidents ranging from minor slips, trips, or falls, to life-threatening injuries leading to permanent disability and loss of employment. However, what most passengers do not understand is that if their injury was potentially caused by the negligence of the cruise ship crew or a defect of the ship itself, they should speak to a lawyer who has experience handling a cruise ship injury claim. Why is experience so important with these claims? Because cruise ships often employ teams of defense lawyers and adjusters who focus solely on reducing or denying injury claims. Furthermore, cruise ships attempt to shield themselves from liability by slipping in legalese on the back of cruise ship tickets.

Below are three big reasons why you need to retain an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer.

We’ve discussed a lot about cruise tickets, and the burdens they put on cruise passengers who are seeking to sue a cruise line for damages and injuries. A recent case has come out that has unfortunately said nothing new, again emphasizing how restrictive the terms of cruise tickets can be.

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Passenger Sues in Wrong Venue

The case involved a passenger who was seeking to sue Royal Caribbean for injuries she sustained on a cruise. Her cruise ticket had a one-year statute of limitations to bring such actions, and she narrowly beat that deadline.

In a horrible incident, a cruise ship worker who plead guilty to charges that he brutally assaulted, physically and sexually, a cruise ship passenger on a Holland America Cruise, has now changed his mind, and wants a trial to determine his guilt.

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The Attack Inside the Passenger’s Cabin

According to the assailant’s own confession at his initial plea hearing, he was motivated by what he believed to be insults to his mother. According to him, the passenger called him a “son of a bitch” on numerous occasions, when he was delivering food to her onboard cabin. He took that as an affront to his mother.

A few weeks ago, our maritime accident attorneys discussed recent sexual abuse allegations against a Disney Cruise Line crew member who has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment of a 13-year-old female cruise passenger. According to reports, Canaveral Port Authority Police arrested 36-year-old Ahmed Sofyan, a resident of Jakarta, Indonesia, on allegations that he had lured the young girl into an unoccupied cabin and touched her inappropriately.

Disney Cruise
Following the incident, Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line issued a statement: “We have no tolerance whatsoever for the behavior alleged in this incident. We are sorry that anything of this nature could have occurred on one of our ships. We place enormous value on the trust our guests have in us, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of each and every one of our guests.”

Two weeks after Sofyan’s arrest, WKMG Local 6 published a story in which former Disney Cruise Line security officer Dawn Taplin was interviewed regarding her experiences while working for the cruise line that seems to contradict Disney Cruise Line’s company policy regarding the handling of such incidents.

Several months ago, this blog discussed the introduction of new legislation entitled, The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (“Protection Act”), at a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that would require cruise companies to publish statistical information regarding crimes committed on their ships that previously went unreported. Surprisingly, three major U.S. cruise companies, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean, offered to voluntarily report cruise ship crimes and man overboard situations ahead of the passage of the legislation.

Norway Cruise Credit
Shortly after the hearing, the cruise lines released their crime statistics dating back to 2010, which prompted an outcry by non-profit organization International Cruise Victims (“ICV”). Why was ICV displeased with the cruise lines’ seemingly virtuous behavior? Because, according to an ICV press release, the cruise companies were artificially deflating their crime numbers and diluting their crime statistics through several underhanded tactics.

According to the release, Carnival Corporation, owner of Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa, HAL, P&O Cruises, Princess, among others, aggregated the data across all of its brands so as to dilute the crime rate related to its brand with the highest number of crimes. Citing research by cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, the ICV press release argued that, although Carnival Cruise Lines represents less than half the total number of Carnival brands, it but accounts for 88% of all crimes committed on all Carnival cruises.

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