Articles Tagged with cruise ship accident attorney Florida

Last week, officials from the U.S. Coast Guard made the decision to call off the search for a man who fell overboard while sailing on a Carnival Cruise ship. Security cameras on board the ship recorded 24-year-old Kevin Wellons falling from the 11th deck of the ship while the vessel was sailing near Abaco, Bahamas. The cameras did not record how or why the Warner Robins, Georgia man fell from the Carnival Elation, and only caught his descent into the water.

Wellons fell overboard at about 2:45 a.m. on the morning of February 13, 2017. Wellons’ wife reported him missing to the ship’s authorities after she awoke around 8 a.m. By 11 a.m., the ship had deployed rescue boats, helicopters, and had notified the Coast Guard, but had no luck locating Wellons. The search was called off a week after the accident with Wellons presumed dead.

The Coast Guard states that they do not suspect foul play involved in Wellons’ death, and his presumed drowning was likely an accident. Further investigation will show if the cruise line was negligent in failing to prevent Wellons’ death. If you or a loved one was injured or suffered an accident while on a cruise ship, the Florida cruise ship accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., can help.

According to the United States Coast Guard, a Carnival cruise ship passenger fell overboard on a the Carnival Ecstasy over Labor Day Weekend.  But if you ask Carnival cruise lines, they have already publicly stated that the passenger was witnessed jumping overboard. If Carnivals version is the truth, then this is poor public relations in my opinion. Regardless, these are certainly very different versions of what happened. The cruise ship passenger has been identified as Rina Patel, of New York. The vessel was located about 15 miles off Grand Bahama Island. Our cruise ship lawyers are monitoring the situation. According to reports, USCG “man overboard procedures” were initiated. However, it is unclear what procedures if any Carnival followed and if they did, when they were initiated.  If the passenger in fact jumped, then there should be evidence to support Carnival’s public statement that the passenger was observed jumping. Yet, the USCG reports and other media outlets suggests negligence. However, what facts the investigation yields and what the CCTV cameras show will shed light on whether this was accidental or not.

As a maritime personal lawyer in Miami, Florida that has litigated many cruise ship cases against many  cruise lines operators including Carnival, it is astonishing that Carnival would come out and publicly state that the passenger jumped or committed suicide before any of the investigation or facts or details are revealed about the investigation.

The Cruise Ship Vessel Safety and Security Act mandates that serious crimes including missing person incidents  are reported immediately to the United States Coast Guard. However, there is no private right of action for failure to violate this important federal statute. So, while the guidelines by CVSSA are straight forward, there is virtually little in the way of a legal remedy in the event these rules promulgated by the US Congress are not followed.

100_0677Though they do not often make the news, crimes on cruise ships do happen. Sometimes said crimes are serious and life-altering, such as sexual assault. Sexual assaults are, unfortunately, not uncommon aboard cruise ships. Recently, 25-year-old Karen Seechurn pleaded guilty to unlawfully entering the cruise ship cabin of a sleeping passenger and sexually assaulting her. In brief, Seechurn entered the victim’s cabin, groped her and threatened to burn the ship down if she told anyone of the incident. The cruise ship was reported as the Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.

Again, sexual assaults aboard cruise ships are not uncommon. In 2014, alone, three of the leading cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian reported 18 cases of sexual assaults and 27 cases of rape against cruise ship passengers.    

Please note that cruise ships do not have law enforcement officials onboard. Yet, you are not without security personnel. Cruise ships employ other forms of security personnel who are typically trained to maintain the safety on cruise ships and to protect evidence of a crime. If you a rape victim of such an offense, it is critical that you report the incident to the FBI as soon as you reasonably can. Ask your cruise line to allow you to contact the FBI. Cruise lines are required to allow passengers to speak to the FBI upon request. Once reported, the FBI will investigate the incident. Of course, the cruise line will want to give the FBI their side of the story. Once your cruise ship has ported, you should visit the nearest rape treatment center.       

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 and 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 and 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.

If you are cruising, and you think of safety issues, you probably think about the medical facilities on board, the cleanliness of the ship, and supervision of on-board activities. You may not give much thought to terrorism. One country is warning cruise passengers to be diligent about it in the coming months.

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Italy Warns of Possible Threats

The Italian Ministry of Defense has warned that ISIS may engage in piracy of cruise ships on the seas, much like the Somali pirates that were highlighted in the recent “Captain Phillips” movie, which was based on true events. It’s well known Somali piracy affects merchant and commercial vehicles, but this is the first time we’ve heard of a government agency making a warning as to a passenger vehicle.

Our Cruise Ship Attorneys have dedicated their decades of experience to representing cruise ship passengers that are injured by the acts or omissions of the cruise ship industry and its employees. However, as this blog has mentioned recently, it is sometimes a cruise ship’s crew that is injured by the negligence of a cruise company.

Brazilian Flag

Late last week, the BBC published a report proclaiming that Brazilian law enforcement authorities had boarded a ship belonging to MSC Crociere as it was docked at the city of Salvador, as part of a month-long investigation into allegations of labor abuses. The investigation was launched following a tip-off from MSC crew members claiming that they had been forced to work up to 16 hours a day and some subjected to sexual harassment. According to the story, Brazilian officials said the eleven crew members were working in “slave-like conditions.”

Brazilian Labor Ministry director Alexandre Lyra commented, “The fact that they had signed a contract, even an international contract, does not mean that the basic human rights should not be respected.” In response to the allegations, MSC issued a statement, “MSC Crociere is in full compliance with national and international labour regulations and is ready to co-operate with the authorities.”

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