June 28, 2016

One Dead Two Injured in St. Lucie County Boating Accident

Cody_Troska.jpgOne man has died from injuries after a boating accident in St. Lucie County, Florida. According to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) report, 20-year-old Dominic Dragan was operating a 20 foot center console Pathfinder by "running in circles, jumping waves and showing off." While running the vessel in circles, Dragan was thrown off into the water with his boat still circling around him.

Three witnesses swam out from shore to assist Dragan by attempting to board the unmanned vessel and cut off the engine. While attempting to board the Pathfinder, the vessel also ran them over. The three men were taken to the hospital where one of them, 26 year old Cody Troska, died from a head injury. The other two, 23 year old Luke Muccigrosso and 22 year old Andres Blanco, were also injured but survived. Dragan was not injured.

The FWC report indicates that Dragan may have been under the influence at the time. It seems that with each summer there is a spike of boating accidents where alcohol or drugs are involved. We recently blogged about boating under the influence of alcohol in Florida and civil liabilities associated when someone is injured by an intoxicated operator.

Photo: Cody Troska (Facebook)

June 28, 2016

A Legal Approach to Florida Boat Run-Over Injuries

Florida_Boat_Accident.jpgInjuries caused by boat run overs occur with some regularity in Florida. Just in the past week, Logan Farquhar of St. Augustine lost his leg when he and four others in a fishing boat were run over in the Tolomato River by a ski boat.

Our law firm has vast experience in handling personal injuries resulting from boats running over victims who were either in the water or on another watercraft. One of our recent cases involved a snorkeler who was run over by a speed boat in South Florida. The impact by the boat's propellers caused significant injuries to our client including a nearly severed left arm and fractured pelvis. Another case we recently handled involved a passenger who was run over by a Yamaha WaveRunner while riding as a passenger on the back of another personal watercraft. This accident resulted in our client suffering fractures to her left tibia and fibula. These cases are just examples of the various types of boat accident injury claims our attorneys handle.

Continue reading "A Legal Approach to Florida Boat Run-Over Injuries" »

June 27, 2016

St. Augustine, Florida Man Loses Leg in Boating Accident

Logan_Farquhar_vilano_bridge_boating_accident.jpgSt. Augustine, Florida Man, Logan Farquhar, was fishing with his fiancée Billie Inman and two others when a large ski boat ran them over near the Vilano Bridge on the Tolomato River on the night of June 25th. Inman told News4Jax reporter, "I woke up and I was inside the boat with another boat on top of me and water rushing in." The ski boat fled the accident scene after the collision but was apprehended by Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The four victims were able to make it back to shore with their lives but Logan Farquhar lost his leg. Before first responders were able to arrive on scene, Inman placed a tourniquet on Farquhar's leg which doctors commented that could have saved him from bleeding out.

The boats involved in the accident were taken into custody by Florida law enforcement. Given the ongoing investigation, the name of the ski boat's operator has not yet been released. Farquhar's medical bills will likely be significant. Inman set up a GoFundMe page to help with these medical expenses.

Sources:

Action News Jax
News4Jax

Photo Credit:

WOKV

June 24, 2016

Florida Boating Under the Influance of Alcohol Accidents

Florida-Alcohol-Boating-Accident-Lawyer.jpgBoating accidents in Florida mostly occur during the summer months. The bays and rivers along Florida 1,197 miles of coastline has many sand bars where people congregate to enjoy the warm weather. This vast coastline brings many boaters and boating accidents. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that there were 737 boating accidents last year and nearly half involved collisions. This is 103 more accidents than in 2014. Out of the 737 accident, 55 boaters tragically lost their lives.

It is no secret that some boat operators become intoxicated. As it is often said, drinking and boating do not mix. Florida has a breath alcohol level of 0.08 for a boat operator to be intoxicated. When an alcohol related boating accident occurs, the operator typically has two legal problems. The first is criminal, the second is civil. Civil law is designed to monetarily compensate someone who was injured or family members for the loss of a loved one. Compensation for an injured person may include damages for pain and suffering, lost income and medical bills. Compensation for someone who lost a close family member may include mental pain and suffering as well as loss of financial support, companionship.

Continue reading "Florida Boating Under the Influance of Alcohol Accidents" »

June 24, 2016

P&O Cruise Passengers critically injured in tragic bus crash during shore excursion

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12 Australian passengers of the P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn remain in critical condition after sustaining serious injuries when the tour bus they were riding in collided head on with a bus carrying locals in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The 12 Australian tourists were traveling back to the ship after a day trip on the island. Due to their severe injuries, 10 of the 12 Australian passengers had to be evacuated via air ambulance to hospitals in Noumea and Brisbane. Unfortunately, three passengers of the local bus died from their injuries. Paramedic Michael Benjamin, who attended the scene, described the crash as "the worst he had seen in Vanuatu."

According to reports, a number of passengers are now coming forward demanding that the P&O cruise line take responsibility for the accident. While cruise lines often assure their customers of the safety of the shore excursions they offer, most passengers are not aware of provisions in their ticket contracts which attempt to insulate cruise lines from any liability for accidents occurring as a result of the negligence of shore side excursion providers.

Despite actively advertising shore side excursions on their websites and earning substantial revenues from the sale of shore excursions, cruise lines are adamant that they are not responsible for the negligence of independent contractors. In spite of this, there are ways to hold cruise lines liable for their negligence; especially in cases where the cruise line is aware of dangers because of prior complaints regarding the safety of a particular excursion and is thus in a position to warn its passengers of the dangers.
It remains unclear from the reports whether the tour bus company had been involved in prior incidents. However, locals report that crashes involving tour buses are "frequent and fatal." This raises the question of whether P&O had knowledge of prior incidents and whether it thus had a duty to warn its passengers.

Because of the intricacies of the law in this area, if you or a loved one has been injured or if a loved one has been killed on a shore excursion, we urge you to contact our firm to learn about your rights.

Sources

Vanuatu bus crash kills three, injures 12 Australian P&O cruise passengers, abcnews, June 21, 2016.

P&O under fire over deadly bus crash in Vanuatu, Travel at 60, June 22, 2016.

Photo credit: Vanuatu Daily Post/Glenda S. Willie

June 15, 2016

Alligator Attacks Boy at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

alligator-drags-toddler-at-Disney.jpgAn alligator attacked a two year old boy Tuesday night in front of his parents at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando, Florida. The toddler is still missing. Reports state that the boy and his father were near the water's edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon when and alligator grabbed and pulled the boy underwater. The father attempted to rescue his son by attempting to pry the alligator's mouth open. The mother also jumped in to save her son. Both parents alerted a lifeguard who called 911. The attack happened just after 9:20 p.m. as the resort was hosting a "Movie under the Stars" event.

Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission search teams, assisted by Disney boats, launched a search and rescue mission. Throughout the night the search included helicopters, sonar teams, marine units and alligator trappers. Five alligators were pulled from the lagoon during the search which were euthanized to determine if they were involved in the attack. So far there is no evidence that the alligator involved is one of the five caught.

Alligator attacks do occur in Florida each year so much so that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission keeps statics on events involving alligators biting humans. In 1986 a 10-year-old boy was attacked by an alligator in Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. That boy survived as a result of his brother and sister hitting the alligator until it released the boy.

Although Disney's Grand Floridian Resort has multiple "No Swimming" signs posted around the lagoon, there are no signs warning guests of alligators. The boy was not swimming, which is a tragic indication that Disney's signs do not provide sufficient warning of the danger of alligators lurking in the waters near lagoon beaches and shorelines. Disney's decision not to post alligator warning signs is in stark contrast to the nearby Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress resort which not only posts no swimming signs but also posts signs warning of alligators in its lake. Resorts like Disney have a duty to warn of hidden dangers lurking on its property.

We are saddened by this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the boy's family.

Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinel

June 14, 2016

Personal Watercraft Rental Release and Waiver Found Void Under Florida Public Policy

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Background

In a very tragic case, the Florida maritime lawyers of Brais Brais Rusak represent a woman who sustained life altering brain and physical injuries from a personal watercraft accident which occurred in the Florida Keys. Our client and boyfriend, who were guests at Hawk's Cay Resort, decided to participate in a sightseeing personal watercraft tour guided by Sundance Watersports who maintains a watersports concession on Hawk's Cay property. The couple paid for the tour and were given a Release and Waver to sign. The tour guide walked the couple down to an equipment shed and floating dock where the life jackets and personal watercrafts were stored. At the equipment shed, the tour guide gave the couple a Renter Orientation Checklist to initial and sign. It was revealed in deposition testimony that the tour guide did not go over the information contained in the checklist. Furthermore, it was testified the tour guide did nothing more than to provide instruction on how to turn on and off the personal watercraft. In fact, from the metadata of the photographs taken, it was shown that one minute and forty seconds at most was spent on instruction.

Continue reading "Personal Watercraft Rental Release and Waiver Found Void Under Florida Public Policy" »

June 14, 2016

Toddler aboard Carnival Liberty slips through cruise ship rail, falls down from the 14th deck to the 12th deck.

While posing for pictures aboard the 14th deck of the Carnival cruise ship LIBERTY, a three year old girl slipped through the rail and fell down the stairs from the 14th deck to the 12th deck, approximately 12 to 15 feet. The toddler was knocked unconscious and according to reports may have sustained a broken jaw. The young child was evaluated by medical personnel aboard the ship and a decision was made to return to homeport in Galveston, Texas and transfer the child to a hospital. The ship was met by an ambulance and the toddler was rushed to The University of Texas Medical Branch. Fortunately, the child was alert and stable at the time she was transported.

Maritime law holds the operator of a vessel owes all persons aboard the vessel a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances to avoid causing personal injury and to warn of any dangers of which he knows or should know. Kermarec v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 358 U.S. 625 (1959).

Ordinarily, if the cruise ship does not create the dangerous condition, the cruise ship must have actual or constructive knowledge of the condition and the opportunity to cure or warn to give rise to negligence. While it is unknown at this time what caused the toddler to slip through the rail, if the dangerous condition is one which was created by the cruise ship, notice is not an essential part of the cause of action. McDonough v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., 2000 AMC 257 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).

If you or a loved one are injured while aboard a cruise ship, it is imperative you act quickly to protect your rights. Provisions in the passenger contract ticket may substantially affect your claim, including where you have to file suit and the time within which it must be filed. We are an established maritime and admiralty firm experienced in protecting the rights of people injured by the negligence of vessel operators, including cruise lines. If you would like to learn more about your legal rights under maritime law, contact our firm.

SOURCES:

http://abc13.com/news/carnival-liberty-returns-to-galveston-after-child-falls-down-stairs/1384314/

http://www.khou.com/news/local/cruise-ship-returns-to-galveston-port-after-toddler-is-hurt/243153282

VIDEO CREDIT: KTRK-TV in Houston

June 6, 2016

Maritime Law Found to Apply to Recreational Boating Personal Injury Claim

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Background of Case

Matthew Ficarra was a guest on Bruce Germain's 38-foot motor boat, Game Day during an recreational excursion on the shore of Lake Oneida near Brewerton, New York. Mr. Ficarra, Mr. Germain and three others headed to Three Mile Bay, a shallow popular recreational swimming spot. After a day spent on the water, the decision was made to return to Brewerton. While Mr. Germain and others prepared the vessel for the return trip, Mr. Ficarra dove off the port side into the water. He climbed back on board and entered the water again, this time doing a back flip from the back of the boat. Mr. Ficarra struck his head on the lake floor and sustained severe injuries including serious spinal cord injury causing paralysis and quadriplegia.

Mr. Ficarra sued Mr. Germain in New York State Supreme Court, asserting claims of negligence under New York law. Mr. Germain, through his insurance company's appointed lawyers, removed the law suit to the United States District Court for the Northern District Court of New York and filed a Petition for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851. Mr. Ficarra moved to remand the action to state court and dismiss the limitation proceedings for lack of matter jurisdiction. He argued that the claims alleged in his complaint were not within the scope of federal admiralty jurisdiction.


Trial Proceedings

The trial court judge dismissed Mr. Germain's petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction "holding that a recreational injury occurring on a recreational vessel anchored in a shallow recreation bay of navigable waters could not disrupt maritime commerce and did not bear a sufficient relationship to traditional maritime activity" and remanded the case back to New York state court.

Appellate Proceedings

The remand and dismissal was appealed. The appellate court rejected the emphasis that the trial judge placed on the recreational nature of the vessel and its passengers as well as the location of the incident in shallow waters noting that "the Supreme Court has never indicated that it matters whether the navigable waters at issue were shallow or deep." Instead, the appellate court focused on the fact that the incident occurred on a vessel and in open water. The appellate court recognized that there are many instances where vessels sail along shallow waters and they may still effect maritime commerce, for example fishing boats or boats taking paying passengers to shallow, hard-to-reach bays for snorkeling, diving, and countless other situations. Applying the multi-part inquiry test for admiralty tort jurisdiction stated by the Supreme Court in Sisson v. Ruby, the appellate court held the underlying claim fell within the scope of admiralty tort jurisdiction because it met the location test, as it occurred on navigable waters.

Additionally, the claim met the connection test: 1) that the general type of incident has a potentially disruptive effect on maritime commerce; and 2) the general character of the activity giving rise to the incident bears a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity. Based upon this legal analysis, the appellate court found that the underlying negligence claim falls within federal admiralty jurisdiction.

This opinion highlights the fact that many injuries which occur on navigable waters are considered maritime claims. It is imperative that people injured while boating are aware that their negligent claims could be governed by maritime law as opposed to state law. Often times different damages can recovered, there could be shorter time for which claims have to be filed in court, and the boat owner may seek to limit liability under federal law.

If you were injured while recreational boating and would like to learn more about your legal rights under maritime law, feel free to contact our firm. We are an established maritime and admiralty firm exclusively focused on protecting the rights of people injured by the negligence of boat owners and operators.

May 23, 2016

Girl Sexually Assaulted by Crew of a Florida Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise

Brock Christain Hammerstrom.jpgA second arrest was made in recent days involving the alleged sexual assault of a minor during a Destin, Florida dolphin sightseeing cruise. Statements made to the police reveal that the underage girl was served wine on the cruise by two crewmembers without being asked for identification. At the end of the cruise, the girl stayed behind to talk to the crewmembers. She was taken below deck where one crewmember admitted to having intercourse with her. The suspect stated the girl told them she was twenty-four. It is unclear at this time as to whether the other crewmember had sex with the minor. Brock Christian Hammerstrom (pictured to the left) is one of the two crewmembers accused of the sexual assault.

Under maritime law, a cruise operator is strictly liable for any sexual assault perpetrated by one of its crewmembers against a passenger or guest. This means that even though the ship owner is unaware that the crewmember may commit a sex crime, it will still be legally responsible in a civil court for the damages the victim suffered from the assault. Such damages may include past and future medical / psychological treatment as well as pain and suffering.

The landmark case discussing a ship owner's liability for the intentional torts of its crewmember is Doe v. Celebrity Cruises. In that case, a cruise ship waiter recommended a night club to female passengers when the ship docked in Hamilton, Bermuda. The crewmember met the girls at the club and mingled with them until the club closed. The victim became intoxicated from being overserved alcohol at the club. The crewmember, under the guise of escorting her back to the ship, took her to a nearby park and sexually assaulted her. The court found that since the crewmember worked for the shipowner his assault on the passenger, even after hours, was attributable to the cruise line.

Our Florida Board Certified Maritime Lawyers have handled multiple cruise sexual assault cases. We are here to assist you in providing legal counsel as to your rights. Should you have any questions concerning your legal rights feel free to call us toll free at (800) 499-0551.

May 19, 2016

Miami Appeals Court Finds Punitive Damages Claim Can Continue Against Norwegian Cruise Line

Florida's Third District Court of Appeals.jpgThe crew member personal injury lawyers of Brais Brais Rusak received a favorable appellate decision against Norwegian Cruise Line and its subsidiary NCL America concerning a seaman's right to bring a punitive damages claim against the cruise lines for their failure to provide her maintenance and cure benefits.

Background

Our law firm represents a United States credentialed merchant mariner who was the nominal employee of a security services company named American Guard Services. American Guard Services loaned our client to Norwegian Cruise Line's subsidiary NCL America to provide security guard services aboard the Hawaiian based PRIDE OF AMERICA cruise ship. Shortly after beginning her shift at six o'clock on the morning of May 22, 2011, she, along with three other security guards and a deck cadet, received an order from a ship's deck officer to lash down lounge chairs that were being blown across an exterior deck due to Force 10 winds. After assisting with lashing down the lounge chairs, our client made her way back to the exit/entrance when the high winds blew her feet out from under her causing the back of her neck and upper back to violently impact the ship's deck. She was rendered briefly unconscious.

Our client was initially treated with pain medication by the ship's doctor and returned to work for another two weeks before being sent home to Houston, Texas, to recover from post-concussion syndrome. Thereafter, she was diagnosed with damaged cervical vertebrae, and underwent several surgeries to repair the damage. She continues to suffer cervical pain and headaches.

On behalf of our client, we filed a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise line, NCL America and American Guard Services alleging negligence under the Federal Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104) as well as the traditional seaman causes of action for failure to provide unseaworthy vessel and the failure to provide maintenance and cure in Miami, Florida.

Maintenance and Cure Defined

Unlike land-based employment law, a sick or injured seaman is not entitled to a state workers' compensation. Instead, a seaman is entitled to what is called maintenance and cure. Maintenance is a per diem subsistence allowance intended to encompass the reasonable cost of food and lodging comparable to that of the sick or injured seaman received aboard the vessel which extends until the seaman reaches the point of maximum cure. Cure refers to medical treatment. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd v. Rigby, 96 So. 3d 1146, 1152 fn. 12 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).

Duty to Provide Maintenance and Cure

A seaman's employer has the obligation to provide maintenance and cure benefits to a seaman injured while in the service of the ship regardless of fault. Aguilar v. Standard Oil Co., 318 U.S. 724, 63 S. Ct. 930, 87 L. Ed. 1107 (1942); Porto v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., 555 So. 2d 394 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989). The duty of the seaman's employer to provide maintenance and cure is Cervical Injury Lawyer.jpgnon-delegable, meaning that if another company, other than the employer, mishandles the obligation to provide maintenance and cure, the employer is liable for any damages arising therefrom including punitive damages. See, Hines v. J.A. La Porte, Inc., 820 F.2d 1187 (11th Cir. 1987)(subjected the employer to punitive damages despite the fact that the employer's insurance company mishandled the administration of the injured seaman's maintenance and cure benefits). Furthermore, as held by the Supreme Court, an employer cannot "contract out" of its obligation to provide a sick and injured seaman maintenance and cure benefits. See, Cortes v. Baltimore Insular Line, Inc., 287 U.S. 367, 371, 53 S. Ct. 173, 77 L. Ed. 368 (1932).

Often times a relationship exists between a ship owner and a company for the purpose of providing specialized skilled labor to work aboard the ship. When an employee of one company goes to work on the ship and is controlled by the ship owner, a borrowed servant-employer relationship exists between the seaman and the ship owner even though he or she receives a paycheck from another company. In such situations, maritime law requires the borrowing employer to provide the injured seaman maintenance and cure benefits. See, Hall v. Diamond M Co., 732 F.2d 1246, 1249 (5th Cir. 1984).

Penalties for the Failure to Provide Maintenance and Cure

There is an ascending scale of penalties for an employer's failure to provide maintenance and cure benefits depending upon the level of culpability. See, Norwegian Cruise Lines v. Zareno, 712 So. 2d 791 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998). An employer is afforded a reasonable period of time to investigate a maintenance and cure claim to determine whether the injury or illness occurred while the seaman was working in the service of the ship and crewmember did not intentionally cause his injury or illness. If, after the investigation, the employer denies the claim on a reasonable basis and the seaman later determined to be entitled to maintenance and cure, the employer is only liable for the past and future maintenance and cure benefits. However, if the employer unreasonably denied maintenance and cure benefits, it will be liable for not only the past and future benefits but compensatory damages associated with the denial. Such compensatory damages include pain and suffering the crew member endured while waiting to receive the benefits as well as any progression of the injury or illness that was caused by the failure to provide maintenance and cure. The final level of penalties for the failure to provide maintenance and cure is punitive damages. Such damages could be awarded when the employer was not only been unreasonable but was callous, recalcitrant, arbitrary and capricious, or willful in denying or delaying owed maintenance and cure benefits.

Success in the Trial Court

Miami Courtroom.jpgFlorida procedural law bars a plaintiff from pleading punitive damages at the first instance. Instead, it requires the plaintiff to proffer to the trial court judge evidence which could support a punitive damages finding by a reasonable jury. The trial court judge receives this evidence and makes a finding as to whether the evidence could or could not support a punitive damages award. If the trial court judge finds that the proffered evidence could support a punitive damages finding by the jury, the plaintiff is allowed to amend the complaint and seek punitive damages.

We filed the requisite motion with the court and proffered evidence that Norwegian Cruise Lines, NCL and American Guard Services engaged in a willful pattern of denying and delaying our client recommended treatment and medication. The trial court found that such evidence could in fact support a jury's finding that the companies could be held punitively liable for their actions.

Success at the Appeal Court

Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America appealed the trial court's finding. They argued that allowing the injured seaman to seek punitive damages is premature as there was no legal determination as to which entity (Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America or American Guard Services) is ultimately responsible to provide maintenance and cure benefits. We argued that such a determination need not be made before a trial court judge could allow a claim for punitive damages. The fact that a borrowing employer is obligated to provide a sick or injured seaman maintenance and cure is enough to bring a claim of punitive damages against the cruise lines under Florida procedural law. The appellate court accepted our argument and denied the cruise lines' appeal.

There are many intricacies as to who is entitled to and who must provide maintenance and cure benefits. Two of our law firm's partners are Board Certified by the Florida Bar in the area of Admiralty and Maritime law and have dealt with these intricacies throughout their careers. If you work on yachts or commercial ships and would like to learn more about your legal rights, contact us for a free consultation.

May 16, 2016

Woman Goes Overboard from Galveston, Texas Based Carnival Cruise

Samantha Broberg Carnival Liberty.jpgThirty-three year old passenger, Samantha Broberg, was reported missing by friends on the Galveston, Texas based Carnival Liberty Friday morning. Upon being notified that Ms. Broberg, a mother of four, was missing, Carnival performed a ship wide sweep and review of CCTV footage. The cruise ship's CCTV system captured video footage of a female passenger falling overboard at approximately 2 a.m. It is reported that approximately 10 hours later, Carnival notified the Coast Guard that Ms. Broberg went overboard. The Coast Guard began a search but on Sunday night, after a 20 hour operation covering over 4,300 square miles, the Coast Guard announced that the search operation was suspended. The Carnival Liberty was approximately 195 miles from Galveston, Texas when Ms. Broberg went overboard. The ship was sailing on a four-day Mexican cruise.

The Federal Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires cruise lines to integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard. It is uncertain why it appears that Carnival took 10 hours to confirm Ms. Broberg went overboard. Notwithstanding the Federal law requiring cruise ships to have technology which will alert and confirm that a person went overboard, cruise ships also have a duty to perform a search and rescue operation, and to notify the U.S. Coast Guard in a timely fashion once it is discovered that someone has fallen overboard. Such search and rescue procedures are required for all overboard occurrences, whether involving a passenger or crew member.

Passengers and crew falling overboard from a Carnival ship departing Galveston is nothing new. In March of 2015, a male passenger's body was recovered after falling overboard from the Galveston based Carnival Triumph. In February of 2012, a Carnival crew member slipped and fell from a Galveston based cruise and was later rescued. In September of 2011, a man went overboard from the Carnival Conquest. The full circumstances surrounding how and why Ms. Broberg ended up overboard are still under investigation. It is not uncommon for cruise lines to issue press releases stating that passengers went overboard intentionally. In numerous instances, however, the excess service of alcohol is linked to a passenger's disappearance. The service of alcohol is a major profit center for the cruise lines. We will continue to monitor this incident and report of any additional information learned.

Photo Credit: New York Daily News

May 9, 2016

Carnival Cruise Ship Crashes Into Passenger Gangway

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The Carnival Pride after deporting from Baltimore

A Carnival cruise ship has crashed into a passenger gangway in Baltimore, Maryland, while attempting to dock after a 7 day Bahamas cruise. Media are reporting that the gangway was knocked over by the ship onto 3 parked cars. Luckily, no one was in any of the vehicles and no one was injured. The ship, the Carnival Pride, only sustained minor damage to the bow and is expected to depart on its next cruise as scheduled.

Although cruise ship "crashes" are a rare event, Carnival has experienced a number of various types of accidents in recent years. In 1995 the Carnival Celebration was adrift in the Bahamas for two days after losing power to an electrical fire. The Carnival Ecstasy caught fire in 1998 but was luckily still near the port of Miami and the fire was doused by rescue fire boats. The Carnival Tropicale was left adrift in the Gulf of Mexico in 1999 due to an engine room fire, leaving passengers no option but to wait out a tropical storm that occurred after the ship became disabled. A fire that broke out in the generator room left the Carnival Splendor disabled off the Western Coast of Mexico in 2010 until it was eventually towed to port in San Diego.

Continue reading "Carnival Cruise Ship Crashes Into Passenger Gangway" »

May 4, 2016

Florida Panhandle Diving Accident Leaves One Commercial Diver Dead

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A Florida panhandle diving accident leaves one commercial diver dead and one injured in an accident last month near Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Florida. The accident occurred on April 7th, 2016, but very few details of the accident have emerged. Media report that four divers were operating out of an inflatable zodiac boat when the accident occurred around 2:00 in the afternoon causing the death of one diver and another diver to be hospitalized with injuries. The Coast Guard is investigating.

Commercial diving is a high risk career which involves all of the risks of recreational diving such as drowning, hypothermia, decompression sickness, air embolism, and equipment failure but commercial divers often face additional hazards of underwater construction zones which include power tools, welding, cutting and demolition. When accidents happen it can leave the diver with disabling injuries or, in the event of death, the diver's family may not only lose their source of support, but they may also be left with many unanswered questions about what caused the accident that took their loved one.


Continue reading "Florida Panhandle Diving Accident Leaves One Commercial Diver Dead" »

May 3, 2016

Commercial Diving Accidents and Injuries

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Commercial divers injured during diving accidents may have legal rights to recovery under federal admiralty and maritime law. While a non-maritime legal expert may be familiar with state negligence or wrongful death law, a maritime attorney will best be able to determine whether maritime law applies. This could mean the difference between the amount of recovery for your injury, the time period in which you must file your injury or wrongful death claim, and even whether recovery is possible at all.

What to do if you are injured in a diving accident

It is important to know your rights and to know what benefits you may be entitled to if a diving injury or tragedy happens to you. The Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime Law Attorneys at Brais Brais Rusak represent diving accident victims and their loved ones with over 70 years of combined experience. Brais Brais Rusak have recovered for victims under maritime law through the Death on the High Seas Act, the Jones Act, failure of employers to provide maintenance and cure, and unseaworthiness among other maritime or state law based causes of action.

Continue reading "Commercial Diving Accidents and Injuries" »