Contributors

Charles R. Lipcon
Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years. Read More »
Jason R. Margulies
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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Ebola virus on cruise shipJust last week, we evaluated whether cruise passengers faced the risk of contracting Ebola while on a cruise ship. While it seemed that the risk wasn’t high, we wondered if the cruise lines had a protocol if this were to happen. Or better yet, did they have a protocol to prevent something like this from happening in the first place.  

Now, it is clear that one passenger on board the Carnival Magic may have been in contact with the disease. It was reported that the cruise line offered only $200 to each passenger and a 50% discount in future cruises in compensation to passengers who found themselves on this Ebola-cruise.

For passengers who bought into a week of rest, relaxation, and sunshine, but ended up cowering in fear in their cabins, this just doesn’t seem right.  It was reported that the cruise line also failed to keep the channels of communication open when it came to keeping passengers informed, raising red flags about how cruise lines may handle similar situations in the future. The National Post reported on the debacle, explaining that even when the captain initially publicized the quarantine, he failed to mention that it had anything to do with Ebola.

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HandcuffsJust a few weeks ago, a former Holland America cruise ship worker confessed to brutally beating, raping, and attempting to throw a passenger overboard. Our firm reported on the disturbing cruise ship rape and attempted murder incident, which happened on February 14 aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam. The assailant, a 28-year-old Indonesian man, obtained a key to the victim’s stateroom and waited in the balcony area of her cabin until she returned to her cabin. Once she was inside, the crew member proceeded to attack her.

While on trial, the perpetrator claimed he that the passenger had incited him prior to the incident by insulting his mother and calling him names. This was his excuse. After stewing over the alleged exchange all day, the crew member then decided to plot the attack and upon entering her room, lunged at the victim, striking her with a laptop and a curling iron, and even attempting to strangle her with a telephone cord. After raping the victim, he then tried to throw her overboard from the cabin’s balcony. Miraculously the woman escaped, but this horrific crime serves to further highlight the lack of safety for passengers on cruise ships.

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Security guardEach maritime attorney at our firm can tell you that a wide range of crimes have occurred aboard cruise ships over the years, including sexual assault, battery, theft, and even homicide. Some crimes involve other passengers, while others involve the crew members themselves. Many crimes on ships could be prevented if cruise lines were to invest a greater amount of funds into improving onboard security, such as hiring trained security officers and ensuring surveillance footage is constantly monitored. Unfortunately, we’ve seen crime after crime happen without cruise lines doing much to stop them or prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Though some incidents may happen to quickly to be stopped, despite a cruise line’s best effort to keep passengers safe, some cruise ship crimes are so severe and shocking that we are left wondering if the ship had any type of security system or personnel onboard. Recently, we’ve come to learn about one such type of crime that is rumored to have occurred aboard a Costa Cruises vessel.

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sick cruise passengerWith Ebola having killed over 3,000 people in west Africa, and having killed one victim already in the U.S., some cruise line passengers may wonder whether traveling might put them at risk. Given the fact that cruise ships are filled with small, confined spaces and up to thousands of people in one sailing, they are often a breeding grounds for diseases.

The maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have seen a wide range of outbreaks affect cruise passengers, but by far, the most frequently reported of all infectious disease incidents are associated with Norovirus, a gastrointestinal illness that is extremely contagious. The fact that cruise ships offer such close quarters, once Norovirus starts spreading, an outbreak becomes likely, resulting in ship quarantines and sick passengers. Additionally, the fact that cruise ships often maintain subpar sanitation, the likelihood with which a virus can spread is exacerbated.

So, given the fact that disease can spread quickly on board a ship, are cruise passengers at greater risk for contracting Ebola? Yes and no.

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Life jacketsFor many of us, enjoying a relaxing day out on a motorboat, tinny, or jet ski is the ideal perfect day. When we think of going out on the open waters, whether for fishing, scuba diving excursions, or sightseeing, we don’t usually equate the activity with tragedy. Though the possibility of getting into an accident is very real, the notion that we’ll be the ones suffering a boating accident is not a very prominent one.

While recreational boating should be an enjoyable pastime first and foremost, it’s important to remember that accidents can – and often do – happen. Most boating accidents happen in the blink of an eye and can involve both experienced and novice sailors alike. Even the most prepared of boaters can become caught in a sudden storm or rogue wave, or can be the victim of another individual’s negligent actions, such as boating while under the influence of alcohol or speeding.

Because there is no guarantee that a collision or capsizing tragedy will not occur, each boating accident lawyer at our firm can attest to the fact that it is always better to live by the motto, “better safe than sorry.”

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CaboLast Saturday, the Star Princess cruise ship called on Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to deliver supplies to residents after the area was devastated by Hurricane Odile. According to news reports, the Princess Cruises’ ship brought bottled water, milk and paper products, among other supplies.

“The residents of Cabo San Lucas form one big hospitality community that regularly welcomes our ships’ guests. We want to return that hospitality by giving back to them as they work to recover and prepare to receive visitors once again,” said Princess President Jan Swartz.

Though we applaud Princess’ decisions to assist the devastated city, we can’t help but wonder where this same sense of urgency and consideration was when another Carnival Corp. vessel, the Carnival Triumph, was in need of assistance?

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boating accidentsEach admiralty lawyer at our firm knows that one of the leading contributors to boating accidents is alcohol consumption. Alcohol impairs a boater’s judgment to the point that they are unable to properly and safely navigate their vessels, leading boaters to make irrational and unsafe choices while out on the water, and can also cause a boater to lose consciousness, leading them to suffer total loss of control of their vessel and to fall overboard.

While each state has its own laws when it comes to boating under the influence – and despite the fact that alcohol consumption tends to increase the frequency and severity of accidents – many continue to drink alcoholic beverages while operating or riding in vessels or water crafts. And this is not a problem limited to the United States. Sadly, alcohol appears to have been a main factor in a boating accident in Ireland earlier this year, in which a 20-year-old autistic man drowned when the vessel he was riding in capsized.

Police continue to search for evidence as to why the vessel capsized in Lough Erne last May. Six people had been sailing along the waterway aboard a motorboat when the vessel capsized and sank. Those who survived the accident said the accident was “sudden” and could not explain what could have possibly caused it. However, reports on the incident reveal everyone on the boat had been consuming alcohol and no one was wearing life jackets – two critical mistakes.

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Was there a fire on board Holland America NoordamSeems like the issues that the Holland America ship, ms Veendam, was experiencing last week are worse than our maritime lawyers originally imagined. HAL cancelled the ship’s seven-day itinerary from Quebec City to Boston on September 28 after the vessel suffered an issue with one of its propellers, but now, we’ve also learned that the Carnival Corp. subsidiary line cancelled its two subsequent sailings on October 4 and 11. Is there more to the ship’s equipment problems than HAL is letting on?

According to the cruise line, the Veendam will be going into dry-dock for repairs, which are apparently extensive.  True to cruise industry form, HAL is not releasing any information to the public regarding what exactly these issues may be, referring to them simply as “technical problems.”

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Cruise ship crew member injuriesWorkplace accidents are extremely common, whether the job site is on land in an office or offshore aboard a cruise ship. Occupational injuries and illnesses can occur due to a number of factors, but many times, they are the result of the employer’s inability to provide a safe working environment. Though failure to maintain safety at a job site is a problem that affects several industries and corporations, it is an especially serious and ongoing issue within the cruise industry.

Though maritime law requires cruise ship operators to abide by the highest safety standards, they often neglect to do so, resulting in crew member injuries. Sometimes a cruise operator fails to properly maintain equipment in proper and safe working condition, causing a crew member to become injured while using that particular piece of equipment. Other times, cruise operators fail to ensure their vessels are sanitized, leading a crew member to develop a potentially life-threatening illness.

So what can a crew member do if they are involved in an accident while in the service of their vessel?

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Propeller malfunctionsA maritime attorney can help with a wide range of cases. Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we’ve helped the victims of several types of accidents and injuries, both onboard a ship and ashore. We often get asked whether or not a particular victim has a viable case, which we determine through thorough evaluation of each individual incident. Many victims who were skeptical will be surprised to learn about their rights as cruise passengers and that they can, in fact file a case.

Because every case is unique, we cannot stress how important it is for a victim of a cruise ship accident or injury to consult with an experienced maritime attorney to review their situation. Many times, we’ve been able to acquire compensation for victims who didn’t even think they had a claim.

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