Articles Posted in Cruise Ship/ Maritime Law

Cruise ships have the size and populations of smaller American towns and, at times, their problems such as accidents, medical emergencies and crime. Cruise ship accidents and crimes at sea have led to deaths and serious injuries while laws have not mandated adequate law enforcement, emergency services and remedies for passengers and their families.  Safety organizations such as the Internationale Cruise Victims and the Florida cruise ship attorneys at Gerson and Schwartz PA have been lobbying for tougher safety measures for the protection of cruise ship passengers.

Now, Congress is taking steps to address this problem and prevent further tragedies with introduction of the Cruise Passenger Protection Act. If passed, the bill would strengthen measures that were imposed in the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act by requiring improved and streamlined crime reporting and video surveillance on ships, mandating better medical standards and public reporting requirements and imposing responsibility on cruise line operators for deaths at sea.

Under the CPPA, families of victims could seek fair compensation following a fatality at sea. If enacted, cruise passengers would finally have the same rights afforded to airline passengers.The bill also addresses the problem of passengers falling overboard. It mandates technology that would capture images and detect a passenger falling overboard. Dealing with crime is an important component of the CPPA. The cruise vessel must notify the FBI of an alleged crime within four hours or before the ship goes out to sea for incidents occurring in port. Offenses involving a U.S. national would have to be reported to this country’s consulate located at the next port of call.

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.

Did You Fall on Your Cruise?

Imagine one minute you are enjoying a show on your relaxing cruise vacation. The next, you are exiting the theater and suddenly you are lying on the ground in serious pain. This is the experience of one Carnival Cruise passenger who slipped and fell on a wet tile floor just outside a carpeted theater on the ship. Like many cruise ship accidents, this happened when it was least expected.

Slip and falls can cause surprisingly serious injuries. In some cases, you may simply walk away with a bump or bruise. However, many slip and fall accidents can cause the following injuries, among others:

Once again, a tragic event has occurred in a cruise ship pool. This past Monday May 18, 2015  a ten year old girl drowned aboard the vessel Norweigian Gem. Our Florida cruise ship lawyers are monitoring the case closely. According to attorneys at Gerson and Schwartz, PA, the cruise ship industry does not require lifeguards in their pools. It just does not fit in their business model, says Nicholas I. Gerson of Gerson and Schwartz, PA. This is alarming considering the number of children and pools on passenger vessels. Under federal maritime law, cruise ship operators only have a legal duty to provide reasonable care under the circumstances.

In the last several years, the cruise ship industry in general has been subject to scrutiny based on  lack of tougher laws and enforcement of its own rules and regulations. Numerous requests for stricter rules   and regulations make their vessels safe are needed for the public. Until recently, cruise ships were not even required to report violent crimes such as rape or sexual assault, nor were they required to cooperate with law enforcement. Accidents like drownings aboard ships are foreseeable and preventable. These ships should have trained lifeguards on duty whenever the pool is open. If the cruise line industry required it’s vessels operate recreational pools with an active life guard and increased safety measures like in you would find in a typical resort, would help make these floating cities safer for all. The cruise ship lawyers at Gerson and Schwartz, PA represent passengers and crew members in all types of accidents. For more information on how we can help, visit www.injuryattorneyfla.com or call toll free at 1-877-475-2905.

Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness aboard cruise ships are now a fairly common occurrence affecting thousands of passengers every year. However, stricken passengers have generally had a hard time recovering anything more than partial refunds, and/or discounts on future travel, from the operators of disease-carrying ships. Even these token forms of compensation have been difficult to secure unless the outbreak necessitated some cancellation or change in itinerary. Cruise contracts often contain limitations on compensation for illnesses contracted on board, and challenges associated with proving negligence on the part of the cruise operator can also prevent passengers from obtaining meaningful redress for their lost cruise investment and the physical and mental impacts of their illnesses.
Repeat Outbreaks Put Ship Owner on Undeniable Notice
Twenty-five passengers who sailed on five separate cruises aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas are now, however, trying to buck this trend. According to a report in the British news publication Southern Daily Echo, these passengers, all of whom were affected in some way by infectious gastrointestinal illnesses that broke out during cruises that originated in Southampton, England during 2010 and 2011, have filed suit against Miami-based Royal Caribbean International and its sister entity Celebrity Cruises. In so doing, they are hoping to demonstrate that once it became apparent that Independence of the Seas was plagued with pathogens, Royal Caribbean had, but did not meet, an obligation to remedy the situation.

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526188_hot_air%20sxchu%20username%20artstarr.jpgA 28-year-old Connecticut woman was recently killed when she fell approximately 200 feet in a South Florida parasailing accident. On August 15th, Kathleen Miskell went parasailing with her husband, Stephen, near the Sands Harbor Resort & Marina. The couple was strapped into a side-by-side harness by employees for the Pompano Beach company that operated the parasail, WaveBlast Water Sports. While floating nearly 200 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, Kathleen’s harness allegedly malfunctioned and she fell into the water below.

The boat’s crew reportedly pulled Stephen to safety before turning around to find Kathleen floating upside down in the water. Although Kathleen was transported to a local hospital, she died as a result of blunt force injuries and asphyxiation due to drowning. According to the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office, Kathleen’s death was ruled an accident.

After reviewing a video and photos of the events that lead to Miskell’s death, the Chairman of the Parasail Safety Council, Mark McCulloh, stated he believes the accident resulted from two sheared harness support straps. McCulloh also said the shearing may have been caused by a manufacturing defect or decomposition over time due to poor maintenance. According to McCulloh, the harness appeared to be an older model.

The cause of the tragic incident is currently under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesperson for the NTSB, Terry Williams, said an in-water evaluation of the boat’s hydraulic winch as well as other equipment will be performed. Williams also stated the investigation could take up to one year to complete.

The relationship between the resort and the boat operator may be important if Kathleen’s family chooses to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the owner of the boat, WaveBlast, caused the accident through negligence, maritime law may limit her family’s right to recovery. If the resort was a partner to the parasailing company, its owners may also be held accountable for Kathleen’s death. Additionally, the manufacturer of the harness may be held liable if the accident was caused by a production defect. Because maritime laws differ significantly from normal tort and personal injury law, it is important to contact a capable maritime accident lawyer If you or a loved one was hurt while traveling on a boat in Florida.

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Why does it keep happening? Bookings have dropped after successive cruise accidents continue to occur. This time, it is Royal Caribbean and its’ Azamara Quest which was carrying 590 passengers and 411 crew members when one of the ship’s engine room’s caught fire.

Despite the fact, that this incident was a lot less harrowing than the other recent maritime accidents, passengers were still frightened to death; and, 5 crew members suffered smoke inhalation injuries, including one which was serious and needed hospital care. The Miami Herald 03/31/12. This is yet another terrifying example of a cruise ship that lost power due to an electrical fire. Of course, it does not compare to the devastation of the Costa Concordia this past January, when that ship hit a reef off the coast of Italy. Actually, the Azamara fire is the third fire on a cruise ship, since November 2010. This time the emergency occurred off the coast of Borneo, during a voyage to Malaysia.

The Royal Caribbean owned ship, the Azamara Quest sustained an electrical fire which was quickly extinguished by crew members. An emergency cancellation for the trip was put into effect, and the ship was forced to end its voyage early in Sandakan, Malaysia. It never made it through Indonesia as scheduled where the trip was supposed to end in Singapore on April 12.

“This Royal Caribbean cruise ship fire reminds us of a previous fire a few weeks ago, on board the Silver Shadow cruise ship”, said Attorney Nicholas Gerson of Gerson and Schwartz, PA. Similarly, this electrical fire affected the air conditioning system, on the Azamara Quest. As a result, many of the 11-deck vessel’s entertainment facilities, which include a spa and shopping boutiques which were all shut down. Passengers such as Dorothy Wood of Virginia Beach, Virginia were petrified” (AP).

“And we will never forget the images of the Costa Concordia hitting a reef off the coast of Italy”, added Gerson, an experienced maritime attorney at Gerson & Schwartz, PA, based in Miami , Florida. “The cruise ship industry is not ensuring the safety of its passengers. We will continue to seek restitution for our clients who suffer injuries as a result of their negligence.” So why does this industry continue touting about how safe it is? For instance, training groups such as Resolve Maritime Group, whose owner, Joe Farrell states, that cruise ships are the “safest industry, safest mode of travel there is.” However, the evidence does not support this claim, and experienced maritime attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, beg to differ.

We are seeing a high rate of incidents on cruise ships lately demonstrating that there is not an acceptable level of risk for travelers . As of Monday, Royal Caribbean stock closed at least one percent lower from the previous close.

Maritime attorneys like Philip and Nicholas Gerson at Gerson & Schwartz, PA, are well aware of the dangers involved on board cruises, and are committed to recovering compensatory and punitive damages for their clients who are survivors or injured parties. “With so many frightening occurrences on cruise ships lately, we believe that the industry should be doing more to protect its passengers. We will continue to serve our clients who become injured on board ships due to lack of standards, care, or accountability. The industry should be doing more to make sure that their ships are safe, especially in light of the all these recent incidents.”

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Will it Ever End?? When is it going to stop? Yet another cruise ship crash has occurred over the last 24 hours near Halong Bay, Vietnam. This time it was the, “Silversea Shadow”, which collided with a container ship under foggy conditions. What is the reason for these life threatening cruise ship crashes in today’s technologically advanced era? These ships have radar, sonar, and satellite communications. So, is it due to human error, once again? Why can’t the maritime industry prevent these catastrophic occurrences on the water? At Gerson and Schwartz, PA we bring claims against cruise ships for their negligence. Attorney, Nicholas I. Gerson, a maritime injury lawyer with the firm believes “our cruise ship executives need to be held 100% responsible for the hiring of their captains and their crew. More frequent, monitoring of the ship’s technology is imperative. Prevention is the answer“ says Gerson. More regulatations, more saferguards, and better hiring practices are the keys to ensuring the safety of our passengers, crew members, and environment. For more information about Gerson and Schwatz PA, contact 305-371-6000 or visit us online by clicking this link

The US, European, and UK based Cruise Industry Associations have finally signed a policy stating that muster drills must take place prior to departure. Following the devastating cruise ship accident crash of the Costa Concordia last January, wherein 23 cruise ship passengers were found dead, scores of injuries, and 7 others are still missing concern about how the evacuation process was handled emerged. 6 weeks later, a second disaster occurred on board the Costa Allegra during an engine fire, disabling the ship and leaving its’ passengers stranded in the Indian Ocean. Again, questions arose about why there was such mass chaos on board during these emergencies.

Since, cruise ship laws did not require that passengers be briefed immediately before the ship sets sail, many on board the Concordia and Allegra cruises were never informed about how to proceed when a true emergency occurred. The main reason why in the case of the Concordia, was because almost 700 new passengers boarded the ship after it had been sailing for 3.5 hours. However, the next briefing was not scheduled to take place until the next day.
Miami Martime and personal injury lawyer Philip m. Gerson of Gerson and Schwartz, PA says “its about time the cruise lines start taking a more proactive approach towards passenger safety.” In fact, the U.S Cruise Lines International Association, Passenger Shipping Association, and the European Cruise Council have all agreed to a new policy which requires every cruise ship in the world to conduct safety drills within 24 hours of embarkation. Stricter policies, are currently in place, and were implemented by the International Maritime Organization. Consequently, if a passenger is unwilling to participate in these safety drills or briefing he or she will be asked to leave the ship immediately. Passengers are told all of this during the pre- drill announcements.

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Carnival says “Safety issues are a major concern for the Carnival Cruise line and the full costs for Carnival will include passenger refunds, potential litigation and repair” But do they mean it? Especially the part about “full costs.” So far, they have only offered trivial payments to victims from the highly publicized accident aboard the Concordia disaster. Here is what they OWE passengers and crew – full and just compensation.

On the night of January 13, 2012, while passengers were in the dining room the crew misinformed them about the seriousness of this disaster. Apparently, the ship’s Captain, Franscesco Schettino, “unapprovingly deviated from the route it was initially programmed for, and; the Captain ever activated any alarms.

More problems for Captain Francesco Schettino and Carnival lie ahead, as evidence is compiled shockingly showing that the “captain was not wearing his reading glasses when the shipwreck occurred, and is said to have asked his first officer to check the radar.” What has not been explained is what Schettino was told and what he and his crew members did next to save the passengers and crew members. Everyone knows what he did to save himself.

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