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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doctorWe talk a lot about maritime accidents here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A, many of which result from the ship operator’s negligent actions. Some common accidents we usually hear about include cruise ships running aground or cargo vessels experiencing mechanical issues. But while some of these mishaps may miraculously be relatively minor, there are a number of incidents that result in serious injuries, especially for crew members.

When someone suffers an offshore injury while on board any kind of ship, the results can be catastrophic, largely due to the fact that shipboard medical facilities are atrociously sub-par. Minor injuries, such as bumps and scrapes, can easily be treated, but when a serious accident occurs, victims are often left without any recourse. The truth about offshore injuries is that the vast majority of them can be prevented. Like any kind of maritime accident, most are usually the result of someone’s negligent actions.

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Icebergs can pose a danger to cruise shipsA few days ago, our maritime attorney, Michael Winkleman, discussed a rather unusual exercise carried out by the Canadian military with the goal of improving emergency response tactics. One of the exercises involved staging a cruise ship accident. The “fake” accident is part of the Operation Nanook 2014 initiative and is scheduled to take place at the port of Iqaluit, capital of Nunavut, wherein a “distressed” vessel will attempt to call on the port.

Unlike previous exercises, this particular safety tactic goes above and beyond to provide trainees with as realistic of an experience as possible, even using actual volunteers to represent cruise passengers. The area where the training mission is scheduled to occur is riddled with hazards. Large ice blocks, rogue waves and extreme frigid temperatures all make for an exceptionally difficult sail for cruise ships in the area, which often leads to accidents. Moreover, the harsh environment of the Arctic makes it difficult for emergency responders to execute their rescue missions when an accident does take place. Sometimes, cruise ships become stuck on icebergs, and because of the surrounding ice, it can take days for a rescue crew to even make it to the scene of the accident to assist those in distress.

In planning for this year’s exercise (one of the military’s annual safety initiatives to improve safety and emergency response times), the military examined previous initiatives as well as prior cruise ship accidents. In particular, the military drew from a 2010 incident in which all 28 passengers aboard the Adventure Canada ship, Clipper Adventurer, had to be evacuated after the vessel ran aground near Nunavut.

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Rick Alsina Maritime LawyerWhen choosing a maritime lawyer, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what the attorney can provide you. Aside from researching the lawyer’s background, including education and successful verdicts, it’s equally important to learn about their professional and personal ethics. Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we pride our self’s on maintaining not only the highest ethical and legal standards, but we also maintain an open door policy. We believe in being just as forthcoming about our individual stories as we are about our collective successes as a firm, and aim to ensure each and every one of our clients feels comfortable in approaching us whenever need be.

We firmly believe that the key to a successful attorney-client relationship lies in communication. We encourage both prospective and current clients to reach out to us with any questions or concerns regarding any kind of maritime accident, be it an injury aboard a cruise ship, pleasure craft or commercial vessel. Whether you are seeking answers as to whether you have a viable claim, need advice on how to handle your injuries or even if you just need support after enduring a great amount of pain from your injuries or the loss of a loved one, you can count on each maritime lawyer at our firm to offer you their full, undivided attention and unwavering commitment to the protection of your rights.

That being said, we’d like to you meet one of our firm’s most valuable trial attorneys, Ricardo Alsina.

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Canadian military stages fake cruise ship accident as part of safety training initiativeHere at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our primary mission is to help those who have been seriously injured at sea or in port due to the negligence of a cruise line, cargo vessel or personal water craft. The goal of each cruise ship accident lawyer at our firm is to assist victims and their loved ones in their fight to obtain justice for their pain and suffering. That being said, we also hope that through our efforts, the overall cruise ship accident rate will start to diminish – and quickly. There have been far too many accidents involving cruise ships in recent years and many of these incidents are a result of the operator’s lack of safety protocols. Whether it’s because a crew fails to properly maintain a ship in working condition, an operator’s inability to offer proper emergency training to its crew or a captain’s failure to take precautions when sailing in inclement weather conditions, the majority of accidents that occur on board cruise ships are the direct result of carelessness or negligence.

Fortunately, it is not only our hope, but the hope of all maritime safety organizations and safety advocates, such as U.S. Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller, that cruise lines will start to place greater importance on safety initiatives. Despite the growing number of accidents on the high seas – as well as the fact that the cruise industry is a multibillion-dollar operation with more than enough funding to allocate to safety measures – we continue to see a number of accidents occur in disturbing frequency, many of which are fatal. So, naturally, it came as a bit of a shock to us when we learned that there’s intentionally going to be an accident next week in the arctic.

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surveyEach cruise lawyer at our firm has represented a wide range of cruise ship accident cases. Some cases involved serious injuries, while others centered on a fatal accident at sea. Sadly, not all victims seek legal counsel because they either do not believe their injuries were severe enough or because they feel intimidated by cruise companies into thinking they will never win their case. At one point, perhaps there was some truth to a victim’s fears when trying to go up against big name cruise companies, but these days, thanks largely in part to Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller’s efforts, it’s a lot harder for cruise lines to hide.

We’ve previously noted that many accidents involving cruise ships were never reported due to the numerous loopholes cruise lines have put in place that have allowed them to avoid liability for accidents resulting from their own negligence. These loopholes can be found in passenger ticket contracts and even in the fact that most major cruise ships are registered in foreign ports, which allows them to bypass U.S. maritime laws so they can defer to the laws of that particular government whose flag they fly. Because of these loopholes, which gave cruise lines a certain level of protection when being accused of failing to provide a safe onboard environment for passengers and even crew members, many cruise operators decided not to report certain accidents and crimes, especially those involving fatal overboard accidents and sexual assault. Of course, if these incidents became public knowledge, then who would ever feel safe cruising?

But these days, things are a little bit different. Continue reading →

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BuoyThere are many maritime regulations in place across the United States that aim to improve safety for boaters. However, just because there are maritime laws in place, doesn’t mean they are always abided. In our last blog, we discussed the importance of waterway markers and how they serve a purpose in protecting boaters from harm. But although these markers can assist in navigation and help prevent accidents in open waters, they can also create a danger for watercraft users and passengers.

Because of this, there is a chance that a fatal North Carolina boating accident could have been caused by inappropriately installed or improperly maintained markers. Let’s take a look at how these aids to navigation can create a perilous situation for boaters.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn our last blog, our firm reported a weekend boating accident in North Carolina that claimed the life of a 17-year-old teen and left a man in his 30s critically injured. Though authorities have yet to comment on what caused the crash, what we do know thus far is that the victims were riding in a 14-foot jon boat when the vessel crashed into a channel marker piling. There are many times when an accident involving a watercraft results from the craft’s operator’s own negligence in abiding by proper maritime safety laws, and other times when factors that cannot be controlled (such as inclement weather) are to blame. However, there are times in which the very laws and tactics that are put in place to prevent boating accidents in open waters are what actually cause the accidents themselves.

Accident reports show that the victims struck a waterway marker piling, but could the actual markers have been what contributed to the crash in the first place? There’s a very real chance that they could have. Let’s explore the possibilities.

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jon boatSummer is in full swing, which means that boating season is in full swing also. Oceans, lakes and other waterways are becoming increasingly congested with vessels and watercrafts, which means boaters should be exercising even greater caution than usual to stay safe. This is especially true for those who prefer to sail along narrow channels. Even when abiding by proper speed regulations, accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Some may be caused by unforeseen circumstances, such as sudden changes in weather, while others are attributed to faulty equipment, operator distraction or intoxication. However, a recent boating accident in North Carolina has left us to wonder whether another factor could be to blame.

A Leland teenager was killed this weekend after a 14-foot jon boat he was riding in struck a channel marker piling near Blue Water Point Marina. The accident, which happened on Saturday at around 4:30 pm, also left a man in his 30s critically injured.

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Cruise lines cancel port calls in IsraelA few days ago, our admiralty law firm discussed the increasing tensions in the Middle East and how cruise lines should consider canceling port calls in Israel to avoid a perilous situation for cruise passengers. Because attacks between Israel and Palestine over the Gaza Strip can happen at any moment and without warning, cruise travelers might get caught in the line of fire and suffer life-threatening injuries. And if a passenger were to suffer injuries, the cruise line may be held at fault for failing to maintain onboard safety.

However, the fact that canceling port calls in Israel can lead to a loss in revenue for cruise lines means there’s a chance that itineraries will proceed according to plan. For this reason, each admiralty attorney at our firm had a certain amount of doubt as to whether cruise lines would choose safety over profit. Luckily, it appears as though several cruise lines have made the right choice and have decided to cancel stops in a number of Middle East ports.

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will cruise ships stop calling on ports because of Israeli Palestine conflictLast time, we discussed the growing tensions between Israel and Palestine over the Gaza Strip, and how cruise lines should consider pulling ships out of any port in the remote vicinity of the crossfire. Cruise lines have a responsibility to keep everyone on board a ship safe from harm, and few things are more dangerous than sailing right into a warzone. But at the same time, cruise lines are out to make a profit. If ships were to stop calling on ports near the line of fire, like the Israeli port of Ashdod, that would mean a loss in revenue. At this point, you might be wondering how profit could possibly trump safety, but in our years of experience, any maritime lawyer at our firm can tell you that cruise lines are willing to go pretty far to both make a profit and to avoid losing profit.

Given the fact that cruise lines use certain loopholes to avoid liability for accidents that result from their own negligent actions, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if cruise lines would attempt to use these same loopholes as a guard against liability for any accidents or crimes resulting from port calls in Israel. We discussed two of these loopholes in our last blog: the fact that most ships are registered in foreign ports and the fact that cruise ticket contracts are designed in a way that allows cruise lines to avoid liability in many events where an accident or crime.

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