Contributors
Charles R. Lipcon

Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years.Read More »

Jason R. Marguiles

Jason R. Margulies is an experienced maritime lawyer and an active trial attorney handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims.Read More »

Ricardo V. Alsina

Ricardo V. Alsina is an active trial attorney, handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims.Read More »

Michael A. Winkleman

Mr. Winkleman is an active trial and appellate attorney handling all personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims, as well as complex business disputes.Read More »

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Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line, lifeguards, cruise ship acident lawyerOur cruise accident lawyers here at LMAW have come to learn of a tragic accident involving a Disney Cruise Line passenger. According to news reports, the victim, a Disney Wonder passenger, died on February 26 after suffering a drowning accident in Castaway Cay, a private island owned by Disney. The passenger, who was on a 5-night cruise to the Bahamas, is reported to have been a 38-year-old man from New York. He allegedly drowned around 4 p.m. while swimming in the waters off the Cay.

A spokesperson for Disney claims crew members and medical personnel responded to the emergency right away. But at this point, we don’t really have much information to go on as to what could have possibly contributed to the drowning. Bahamian authorities are investigating the incident and explained an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of the accident.

Several factors could be at play here. The man could have been pulled under by a rip tide or he could have even suffered a medical condition while in the water. We will have to wait to see what the investigation reveals, but one thing that has been brought to our attention is the claim that there were no lifeguards on the beach where the accident occurred.

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rogue wave, cruise ship accidentOur cruise attorneys here at LMAW have often talked about unexpected disasters that can strike at sea. Despite the fact that many maritime accidents are the result of poor judgment or reckless behavior, including speeding, operator inexperience, or alcohol consumption, some incidents are caused by Mother Nature. One of those is a rogue wave.

A rogue wave is the name given to a wave that is out of proportion to the other waves around it, a huge wave (usually over twice the size of surrounding waves) that comes out of nowhere.  These waves are unexpected and can show up anywhere, anytime. Though rogue waves have been known to cause serious hazards to unsuspecting boaters, there are times when they are used as a defense by cruise lines in order to avoid liability for an injury resulting from them interacting with a ship. Though rogue waves can’t be predicted, there are certain waters where rogue waves tend to strike, or where waves are abnormally larger than others. Cruise lines know to avoid these areas, but from time to time, they don’t, leading to accidents and passenger injuries that are at times fatal.

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Can cruise ships handle the worst weather hazards at seaCruise passengers are often warned about the risk of crime at some ports of call. Yet, a recent Royal Caribbean cruise delay that left Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and fans stranded at sea draws attention to another hazard cruise passengers face at port: acts of nature.

The Journal of Meteorological Applications studied factors that could create hazards for the U.S. Navy fleet. The study was performed because hazardous weather is a concern to all ship captains. Strong winds, high waves, fog, and thunderstorms were cited as particularly hazardous to ships. These hazards are especially dangerous when ships near ports because ships are required to navigate around or under bridges and other structures. Additionally, because of the increased number of vessels near a port, there is a greater risk of collision with other vessels.

Let’s face it, it is inevitable that a cruise ship will encounter hazardous weather conditions either at sea or at port. The question is not if, but when, a ship will encounter severe weather. Yet, are cruise ships equipped to handle the worst of Mother Nature? This is a loaded question. We’ll let the facts speak for themselves.

In 2010, two passengers died and 14 people were injured when 26-foot-high waves crashed through the windows of the Louis Majesty cruise ship while the vessel was off the coast of Spain. Last year, an elderly passenger was killed after a huge wave hit the MS Marco Polo cruise ship, causing several windows to shatter. Sure, waves of this height are rare, and cruise ships avoid regions where these kinds of waves are present, but rare doesn’t mean impossible. Any meteorologist will tell you that the ocean is part of a dynamic system, and rare events can occur at sea. Large waves that appear to come out of nowhere are often referred to as ‘rouge waves’, and can reach heights around 100 feet.

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Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship

Our cruise lawyers here at LMAW have been lucky that, being in Miami, FL, we haven’t had much to deal with in the way of bad winter weather. Unfortunately though, there have been several areas across the United States that have experienced extremely hazardous weather conditions. And these conditions don’t stop at the shore, they extend all the way out to sea.

In fact, we’ve just come to learn that a Royal Caribbean cruise ship carrying Ohio State football fans and coach Urban Meyer was stranded at sea due to heavy fog. The adverse weather closed the Tampa port and resulted in the cruise ship’s delay. The vessel was scheduled to return to port on Monday.

Ohio State football fans were celebrating an annual cancer charity fundraiser on Royal’s Brilliance of the Seas ship. But thanks to the fog, it looks like the cruise lasted a little longer than everyone expected.

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Cruise ship rape, sexual assault, discrepancy in reportingWhen most travelers board a cruise ship, they have a lot on their minds. ‘What activities should I do first?’ ‘Where can I get some food?’ ‘Point me to the nearest bar.’ It’s highly doubtful that any cruise passenger’s prevailing thoughts are centered on what crimes they could possibly suffer from or how unsafe they might be on their ship. But sadly, this is something all cruise passengers should be thinking about because safety isn’t always guaranteed. Unfortunately, there is a very real threat of danger with any cruise vacation –one of the largest being the threat of sexual assault.

Our cruise ship rape lawyers here at LMAW have reported on several acts of sexual assault on cruise lines that have transpired over the past few years, many of which have involved crew members and even young children. And sadly, many of the victims of these incidents did not have the chance to obtain justice – and may never be able to. Why? Because of an unfortunate, yet all too common practice among cruise lines – withholding evidence.

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Cruise ship medical emergency, Coast Guard medevac, Norwegian Getaway, Puerto RicoA cruise vacation can be a lot of fun for kids. Between the numerous kids’ lounges and “clubs”, water slides, and endless supply of pizza and ice cream, it’s no wonder that the trend in cruising has undergone a major shift from a mostly adults type of vacation to one that is more family oriented. But unfortunately, the fact that there are a lot more children cruising means that cruise ship safety has to be held at an even higher standard than usual. And, even more unfortunately, it appears as though this need is being overlooked.

So far this year, there have been numerous incidents involving young children on the high seas, including the near-drowning of a four-year-old boy who was sailing aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas last month. Our cruise ship lawyers are, quite frankly, shocked that most major cruise lines have yet to start employing experienced lifeguards on ships, despite the fact that a large number of accidents involving children are occurring. And now, we’ve come to learn of yet another cruise ship medical emergency involving a child.

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Cruise ship doctors, onboard medical facilities, cruise ship injury attorneysThere’s nothing worse than getting sick while on vacation. No one wants to spend long-awaited time off convalescing in bed. Yet, for cruise vacationers, getting sick on board a cruise can add a whole layer of unexpected and unwelcome trouble.

Fortunately, for most cruise travelers, minor ailments like sea sickness and sun burns are the most common reasons why travelers visit the cruise infirmary. In fact, the top four reasons why travelers visit the cruise infirmary are: (1) bruises, (2) indigestion, (3) sea sickness, and (4) sun burns.

The good news is that many of these issues don’t require a visit to the infirmary at all. The bad news is that individuals who choose to visit the infirmary for ailments might find themselves going home to a steep infirmary bill. And, many health plans won’t cover care received outside the United States. Traveler’s insurance can protect you against unexpected circumstances, but passengers should read every policy to make sure it covers onboard medical services.

Because medical care on board a cruise can be expensive, passengers are advised to bring their own first-aid kit, including good antiseptic cream, Band-Aids, and bandages. Burns can be prevented by using sunscreen regularly. Passengers should make sure they bring enough sunscreen for their whole trip, as the cost of sunscreen on the ship can be prohibitive. Cruise ships often have limited pharmacies, and passengers might find themselves shocked by the price of over-the-counter medicine. Bringing along pain killers, antacids, and Dramamine (for sea sickness) can help minimize medical costs during a cruise vacation, protecting your wallet and keeping you as comfortable as possible if you find yourself feeling a little under the weather.

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sexual assault, cruise shipsCruise vacations should be fun, right? They should offer the perfect chance to relax and unwind, as well as the opportunity to discover new, exciting destinations. The last thing anyone ever expects is for their cruise vacation to go from fun to being a nightmare. Unfortunately, this is the reality many cruise passengers face when they become the victims of sexual assault on the high seas.

Sexual assault is the number one crime on cruise ships, yet, cruise lines appear nonchalant about these statistics. Anyone can become a victim of sexual assault on the high seas – from children to crew members! Yet, cruise lines continue to withhold evidence when reporting sexual crimes, continue to avoid hiring trained security guards, and continue to perform limited background checks on potential crew members – all of which contribute to greater prevalence of sexual assault incidents on board ships.

Unfortunately, we don’t foresee the cruise industry turning over a new safety leaf anytime soon. This means that it’s up to passengers to try and remain as safe as possible. Continue reading

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Jewel of the Seas cruise ship fireAfter the Carnival Triumph debacle in February, 2013, maritime authorities, cruise lawyers, and cruise-goers alike have been paying closer attention to cruise ship fires and accidents involving cruise lines in general. Both authorities and the general public have been made aware that cruise lines don’t always reveal accurate accident statistics, which has led many to wonder just how many incidents have gone undocumented and unnoticed.

This brings us to a curious rumor involving a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Earlier this month, there were a number of reports alluding that there had been a minor fire aboard the Jewel of the Seas ship, which allegedly affected several areas on the vessel. According to online posts, the supposed fire broke out around 5:30 PM shortly after Jewel of the Seas left Bridgetown Barbados while on a 7-night Southern Caribbean itinerary. It was allegedly the result of a blown power breaker. Online accounts explained the fire was allegedly extinguished without any passenger or crew injuries.

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Valentine's Day cruise risksIn our last blog, our maritime attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman talked about how a Valentine’s Day cruise can be a breeding grounds for potentially life-threatening scenarios at sea. While many cruisers embark on a Valentine’s cruise to have a good time with their significant others or even celebrate the single life with their friends, there are several risks that can present themselves on a holiday sailing. Last time, we discussed how scorned travelers can create a threatening situation on a ship. Scorned travelers are individuals who may be suffering from severe heartbreak, loneliness, or any other depressive state of mind. The actions of these passengers can be unpredictable, and can lead to troublesome situations on the high seas, including violence.

However, there are a number of other factors that can create a dangerous environment on a Valentine’s Day sailing besides scorned travelers. Below are some of the main safety threats for passengers cruising on Valentine’s Day and how to best avoid them:

 

Higher likelihood of sexual assault

Many of the individuals who opt for a Valentine’s Day cruise are single women who are just looking to have a good time with their also single girlfriends. Continue reading