August 25, 2016

Appeals Court Closes Courthouse Doors to Injured American Cruise Line Crewmember

Appeals-Court-Denies-American-Crewmember-Access-to-Court.jpgA Federal appellate circuit court in Atlanta has ruled that a United States crewmember must arbitrate his personal injury claim. This case involved a lead trumpeter who worked for a Miami, Florida based cruise line based aboard a cruise ship whose home port is Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. At the time of the injury, the cruise ship sailed two routes. A Western Caribbean route which called on Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico and an Eastern Caribbean route which called on the United States Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and St. Maarten. No matter which route the cruise ship took, it always began and concluded the voyage in Ft. Lauderdale.

The crewmember brought his personal injury claim against his cruise line employer alleging that it failed to provide him with adequate medical care as required under the Federal Jones Act and the maritime employer's obligation to provide an injured seaman with medical care. The crewmember allowed alleged the cruise ship was unseaworthy. The cruise line asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit and compel arbitration pursuant to the employment contract which required that all disputes, "be referred to and resolved exclusively by mandatory binding arbitration pursuant to the United Nations Conventions [sic] on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards." The trial court dismissed the lawsuit in favor of arbitration and the crewmember appealed.

Continue reading "Appeals Court Closes Courthouse Doors to Injured American Cruise Line Crewmember" »

August 24, 2016

Florida Law Applies to Boat Accident Personal Injury Claims in Most Miami-Dade County Canals

Miami-Dade Canal Boat Accident Law.jpgThe Federal Eleventh Circuit recently found that a Miami-Dade County canal popular for boating and fishing is not navigable thereby precluding claims based upon Federal admiralty jurisdiction. Since Federal admiralty jurisdiction does not exist, Florida state law, not Federal maritime law applies to boating accidents that occur in many South Florida canals.

The Accident

A privately owned pleasure boat was operating in a waterway known as the Coral Park Canal. While the boat was traveling south, it encountered a bridge with low clearance at the intersection of SW 94th Avenue and SW 8th Street. The operator and four passengers lowered their heads while the vessel passed under the bridge. As the boat emerged from the other side of the bridge, one passenger raised his head and hit a water pipe owned by Miami-Dade County that extended over the canal. The force of the impact ejected the passenger from the boat and into the canal causing a significant personal injury.

Continue reading "Florida Law Applies to Boat Accident Personal Injury Claims in Most Miami-Dade County Canals" »

August 22, 2016

45-Year-Old Man Found Dead on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

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A 45-year-old American man was found dead in his cabin on board the Grandeur of the Seas on Saturday, August 20. No foul play is suspected at this time but Bermuda police continue to investigate the man's death along with ship authorities. We extend our deepest condolences to the man's family.

The Grandeur of the Seas was sailing an 8-night Bermuda and Bahamas cruise and is scheduled to arrive in home port in Baltimore, Maryland on August 27.

We will continue to monitor this story and report on any developments.

Sources and Photo Credit:

Photo: Tony Hisgett, Creative Commons

Police Confirm Death of Cruise Ship Passenger, Bernews, August 21, 2016

Cruise Ship Passenger Found Dead in Cabin, The Royal Gazette, August 21, 2016

August 18, 2016

Cruise Ship Fire Forces More Than 500 Passengers and Crew Personnel to Evacuate in Puerto Rico

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An America Cruise Ferries cruise ferry combination ship had to evacuate 500 plus passengers due to a fire that started in the ship's control room and was unable to be put out by ship personnel. According to reports a hose carrying fuel burst open and caught fire. The fire was eventually extinguished but the boat system's collapsed and the ship was rendered unsafe requiring the evacuation of all passengers and crew members.

Although no fatalities or major injuries were reported, 24 people were hospitalized and many were treated at the scene for heat stroke and dehydration. The Caribbean Fantasy was traveling from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic carrying mostly Dominican passengers. Among the passengers were a 22 member cycling team, a girls' volleyball team and a boys' baseball team.

The ship has been safely docked at San Juan's harbor in Puerto Rico.

Sources and Photo Credit:

Photo: Carlos Giusti/Associated Press

Cruise-Ship Fire Near Puerto Rico Spurs U.S. Coast Guard to Evacuate Passengers
, The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2016.

More than 500 Evacuated Burning Ferry Off Puerto Rico, Independent, August 17, 2016.

August 17, 2016

Holland America Cruise Line May Face Punitive Damages in Injured Crewmember Lawsuit

Holland American Cruise Line Punitive Damages.jpgA Washington Federal Court has recently allowed an injured crewmember to seek punitive damages against Holland American Cruise Line. In that case, an American crewmember from Massachusetts worked as a cast member on Holland America's ZAANDAM cruise ship. One day she decided to take a crew-only spin class. Unbeknownst to her, the bike seat was not yet fastened and when she attempted to mount the bike, the seat slid backward and the metal post penetrated her vulva, lacerating her right vagina. The ship's infirmary staff examined her and decided against suturing the wound. The crewmember discharged with ice, a topical analgesic, pain medication and antiseptic wipes. She continued to experience pain and sought treatment ashore when the cruise ship call on Juneau, Alaska. The crewmember alleged the emergency physician at the Juneau hospital told her that the wound should have been sutured but that it was too late to do so at that point. The crewmember returned to the cruise ship where she twice saw the ship's doctor to address a golf-ball sized growth that had formed in her vagina. The crewmember alleged that the infirmary staff told her that the growth needed to be drained, but that the head office would not allow that to happen on the cruise ship. Instead, the crewmember claimed she was told that she could bathe her wound in the infirmary's bath. This did not provide any relief. Still in considerable pain, the crewmember departed the cruise ship in Alaska and returned home to Massachusetts. There, she sought treatment from an obstetrician and gynecologist.

Continue reading "Holland America Cruise Line May Face Punitive Damages in Injured Crewmember Lawsuit " »

August 16, 2016

Woman Survives Fall off Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

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A 32 year-old woman traveling aboard the Royal Caribbean DREAM fell overboard last Wednesday after leaning too far over the guard rail of the fourth deck while sightseeing. The height from the fourth deck to the water is estimated to be 65 feet. Her parents, reportedly traveling with her did not realize she was missing until hours later when she did not return from a stroll around the ship. Her family and more than 100 volunteers searched the ship to no avail. Police gave her parents little hope of her survival if she had fallen from the deck to the water.

Incredibly, the woman survived the fall into the icy water and drifted at sea for 38 hours without a life jacket. She reported yelling for help to other passing ships but was not heard. It was not until Friday morning that a fishing boat spotted her and rescued her. She was taken to the hospital to treat blisters on her arms from jellyfish stings and was released on Saturday.

The ship was on a five day cruise from Shanghai to South Korea and Japan.

Sources and Photo Credit:
AFP
Woman Survives 38 Hours in the Sea after Falling from Cruise Ship, The Telegraph, August 16, 2016.
Woman Falls Overboard on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship, Starts at 60, August 16, 2016.
Woman Survives Fall from Ship Which Leaves Her Drifting At Sea for 38 Hours, Mirror, August 16, 2016.

August 15, 2016

Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Returns to Port Due to Medical Emergency in Pool

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Royal Caribbean ANTHEM OF THE SEAS makes news again after a 72-year-old woman was reportedly having trouble swimming in one of the ship's pools. The woman was initially taken to the ship's infirmary but she required further medical treatment so the ship sped up to arrive into Cape Liberty, New Jersey for a medical evaluation.

According to the Jersey Journal, a Philadelphia man aboard the ship witnessed the incident and said that when he and his wife arrived in the area the woman had just been pulled from the water, was unresponsive and had a pale/purple look.

The woman's condition remains unknown.

Sources and Photo Credit:

Royal Caribbean Ship Returns to Bayonne After Woman's Medical Emergency in Pool
, The Jersey Journal, August 13, 2016.

August 4, 2016

Teen Injured After Jet Ski Collides With Channel Marker

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A 16 year-old teenager was airlifted yesterday after he was thrown off a jet ski when it struck a channel marker. The teenager was jet skiing near Fred Howard Park in the Intracoastal Waterway. His condition is not known at this time.

According to reports from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a nearby boater assisted in getting the young man help. The FWC is currently investigating the accident. We sincerely wish the young man a speedy recovery.

This is the second accident of this type this week alone. On Sunday, a Miami man was killed when he was involved in a nearly identical accident near the Julia Tuttle causeway.

It is important to remember that personal watercrafts are not equipped with brakes and thus operators have to be extremely wary of objects on the water, such as channel markers, other PWCs and boats.

Additionally, the likely first instinct when encountering an object is to let go of the throttle and turn the handlebars in another direction to avoid the object. However, to turn the PWC you have to advance the throttle to provide the thrust necessary for it to turn. Thus, if a person lets go of the throttle, the PWC will continue to move in the direction it was going when the person released the throttle, regardless of the direction the person moves the handle bars.

We strongly recommend anyone engaged in recreational boating or watersport activities to obtain training prior to such activities. It can really mean the difference between life and death.

Sources:

Good Samaritan Pulls Injured Jet Skier Out of Water, Teen Airlifted to Hospital, ABC Action News, August 2, 2016.


August 1, 2016

Man Killed in Personal Watercraft Accident

0-417-green-marker.jpgA man was killed Sunday, July 31, 2016 when the personal watercraft he was operating slammed into a channel marker causing him to be thrown off the vessel and to hit the marker. Two women riding with him were also thrown off the watercraft. The accident occurred near Picnic Island, south of the Julia Tuttle Causeway. All three persons involved were rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital where the man was pronounced dead. One of the women sustained serious injuries to one of her legs. The other woman suffered bruises and has already been released from the hospital.

According to reports from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the man was going in circles at a high rate of speed and he lost control of the Jet Ski hitting the channel marker. FWC officials continue to investigate the crash.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family and a speedy recovery to the two women injured.

Florida boating safety laws differ as to the requirements for operating a personal watercraft making a distinction based upon age, residency, and whether the person owns the watercraft or is renting it from a livery. However, we strongly urge anyone operating a personal watercraft to participate in a boating safety course to learn about navigation rules, reckless operation, environmental concerns, propulsion, steering, etc.

Sources:

Personal Watercraft Accident in Picnic Island Leaves 1 Dead, 2 Injured, Miami Herald , July 31, 2016.

1 Killed, 2 Injured in Personal Watercraft Accident Off Miami, WSVN 7 News, July 31, 2016.


July 25, 2016

Two Cruise Passengers Medevaced Off Norwegian Gem

Two-Passengers-Medevaced-Off-Norwegian-Gem.jpgThe Coast Guard is reporting a medical evacuation of two passengers off the Norwegian Gem. The rescue occurred early morning on July 24, 2016. The cruise ship contacted sector Hampton Roads Command Center in Portsmouth and notified it that the two passengers were experiencing "medical complications". The liner was about 75 miles northeast of Cape Henry at the time of the emergency. The medical rescue was executed by a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and assisted by a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Both men were hoisted on board the helicopter shortly after 5 a.m.

The passengers were flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk for treatment. The Norwegian Gem is operated by Miami, Florida based Norwegian Cruise Line.

July 21, 2016

NCL Crew Member Dies After Rescue Boat Drill Accident

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During a routine safety training drill in Bermuda four crew members of the Norwegian Breakaway were injured when the rescue boat they were lowering into the water as part of the drill broke from its tethering and was left hanging by a wire. The four men fell into the water and sustained injuries. The men were treated by ship's medical staff and transferred to a local hospital, where one of the men passed away.

Authorities are investigating the incident. The ship is expected to depart Bermuda as scheduled and return to New York on July 24.

We extend our sincere condolences to the crew members' families and wish the three injured seamen a speedy recovery.

The crew members and the estate of the deceased crew member likely have claims under the Jones Act for negligence. The Jones Act imposes liability upon a seaman's employer for defective or dangerous conditions which the employer knew or should have known about. Additionally, the crew members and the estate of the deceased crew member may have claims under the doctrine of unseaworthiness, which requires a ship owner to maintain a seaworthy vessel or a vessel that is free of unreasonably dangerous and/or unsafe conditions. In addition to these claims, the injured seamen have a claim for maintenance and cure. Regardless of fault, seamen who become ill or are injured during their employment, are entitled to maintenance, cure and unearned wages. Maintenance refers to the reasonable expenses of room and board of the seaman while ashore, until he or she is fit for duty or reaches maximum medical improvement. Unearned wages are wages the seaman would have earned had he not become sick or injured, to the end of the voyage. Lastly, cure, refers to the reasonable medical expenses incurred by the seaman for curative treatment. Another Federal Statue that may apply depending upon the location of a maritime tort is the Death on the High Seas Act ("DOHSA").

Our firm has vast experience in representing crew members in claims against their employers. If you or a loved one have been injured and would like to learn more about your rights, please contact our firm.

Sources:

Crew Ship Crew Dies after Lifeboat Accident, The Royal Gazette, July 21, 2016.
Crew Member Dies During Rescue Boat Drill aboard Norwegian Breakaway, Three Others Injured, GCaptain, July 20, 2016.
4 People Injured After Norwegian Breakaway Lifeboat Accident, Cruisehive, July 20, 2016
BPS Confirm Death of Cruise Ship Crew Member, BER News, July 20, 2016.

Photo Credit:

BER News

July 19, 2016

74 Year Old Passenger Medevaced Off Carnival Breeze

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Defense Imagery and Video System reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 74 year old passenger from the Carnival Breeze on July 18, 2016. The Coast Guard Command center received a call around 3:20 p.m. reporting that a man was unconscious and had been revived by Carnival medical staff. The cruise ship was approximately 379 miles southwest of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The helicopter crew arrived at approximately 8 p.m., hoisted the man and flew him to Tampa General Hospital where he arrived at about midnight. According to reports, the man was in stable condition upon arrival.

Cruise lines often tout that their medical facilities provide similar quality standards to medical facilities ashore. However, more often than not, passengers have to be medevaced to hospitals for further treatment. The incident above underscores how crucial it is for shipboard medical staff to timely evaluate patients as the process for emergency medical evacuations can take many hours, time which could be crucial if a person is critically injured or sick.

Source and Image Credit:

Coast Guard Medevacs Man 379 Miles Southwest of St. Petersburg, July 19, 2016

July 18, 2016

Passenger Medevaced Off Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship after Experiencing Stroke-Like Symptoms

Royal-Caribbean-Cruise-Passenger-Medevaced-Sitka-Alaska.jpgThe Coast Guard reports that an aircrew from its Sitka Alaska Air Station medevaced a passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship last Tuesday. The 17th District Command Center was informed by the master of the Explorer of the Seas that a 57-year-old passenger was experiencing stroke-like symptoms and requested that he be medevaced to a land-based hospital. The Coast Guard's duty flight surgeon was consulted and recommended the medevac. The aircrew met the cruise ship in the Chatham Straight near Sitka and hoisted the man onto the rescue helicopter. The passenger was then transported to Sitka where he was met by awaiting emergency medical services personnel.

Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Frommherz of Coast Guard 17th District Watchstander stated in a press release that, "During the summer months there is increased activity on the water, and our crews stand watch around the clock." "The ability to safely hoist someone in distress from a cruise ship despite the often unpredictable Alaskan weather is a testament to the training our men and women put in on a daily basis." Fortunately, there was fair weather conditions at the time of the medevac.

There has been no further report on the passenger's condition.

Source & Photo Credit: Coast Guard News

July 14, 2016

Law Enforcement Investigating Florida Boating Accident Wherein Child Died from Injuries

Florida Law Enforcement Boat Accident.jpgLaw enforcement is conducting an investigation into a boating accident that killed a 7-year-old child in Charlotte County, Florida. The incident occurred about 9 a.m. on the morning of July 9th near the Stump Pass area of Placida. The boy was in a 20-foot boat with his father and 11-year-old brother. Reports indicate that the boy was sitting at the back of the boat when his father turned on the engine. Unfortunately, the father applied too much throttle which caused the boy to fall off the back of the boat and into water. The boy made contact with the engine's propeller severely injuring him. The child was transported to the Englewood Emergency room where he later died from his injures.

Officer Stuart Spode of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission stated "at this time we believe it was just an unfortunate accident.". No charges are pending against the father.

July 12, 2016

Two Women Injured in Jet Ski Accident

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Two women sustained injuries as a result of a personal watercraft accident, Monday, July 11, 2016 about a mile and half south of Bill Baggs State Park, near Key Biscayne. WSVN reports that both women were on the same Jet Ski when it ran aground, throwing them into the water.

One of the women sustained neck and head injuries and was airlifted to Ryder Trauma at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The second woman was taken to Mercy Hospital with facial injuries.

Perez of a party boat nearby found the two women and rendered assistance to them. According to Capt. Perez the more seriously hurt woman "couldn't move and was floating in the water."

The names of the two women and their condition have not been released. The cause of the accident is under investigation by Florida Fish and Wildlife officials.

Our firm has seen an increase in personal watercraft accidents in large part due to the failure of liveries to provide adequate pre-rental instruction to their customers. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. ยง327.54(1) the pre-rental instructions should include and need not be limited to instructions regarding 1) the operational characteristics of the vessel to be rented, 2) safe vessel operation and vessel right-of-way, 3) the responsibility of the vessel operator for the safe and proper operation of the vessel, and 4) local characteristics of the waterway where the vessel will be operated.

Our lawyers have handled multiple personal watercraft injury cases and have been successful in establishing the negligence of liveries involving the failure to provide adequate instructions before the renting of a personal watercraft. If you were injured during a personal watercraft rental and would like to know more about your legal rights, feel free to contact our offices.

Sources:

2 injured in personal watercraft accident near Key Biscayne, WSVN, July 11, 2016.
2 injured in personal watercraft accident near Key Biscayne, Sun Sentinel, July 11, 2016

Photo Credit:

WSVN, 2016 Sunbeam Television Corp.