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 »

Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

MotorboatBoating accidents can happen at a moment’s notice. But while some are the result of unforeseeable circumstances, like sudden changes in weather or an unexpected mechanical problem, the unfortunate majority stem from someone’s negligence by not abiding by proper safety laws.  Reckless operation, intoxication, failure to pay attention, and speeding are just a few of the many factors that can lead to serious – if not fatal – accidents on rivers, lakes and oceans.

When it comes to protecting communities from the devastating effects of a boating accident, there are several things both governments and citizens can do to stay safe. Citizens, for example, can exercise the greatest caution possible when out in the waters, minding their surroundings, refraining from drinking, and horsing around. As far as government entities, each state has its own specific guidelines when it comes to boating, but for most, there are general regulations across the board, including age minimums for operators, minimum experience acceptable for boating, as well as strict laws regarding Boating under the Influence (BUI).

No one is above the law when it comes to safety violations in open water channels, not even police officers.  Unfortunately, one officer learned this lesson the hard way last summer.

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gondola accidentIt’s no secret that environmentalists and residents in Venice, Italy are not a fan of large cruise ships. For years, activists have been trying to stop cruise lines from calling on the delicate lagoon city for fear that the growing size of ships is destroying the city’s ecosystem and integrity. Venice is one of the most popular ports of call for cruise travelers, but the constant presence of cruise ships has threatened to erode the city’s foundations with the continual displacement of water.

Residents also argue that the presence of large cruise ships is distracting and diminishes their quality of life. Matteo Secchi, head of the pro-Venice group Venessia that is working on banning all cruise ships from the city, once stated that “The vibration from the maxi-ships feels like small earthquakes under your feet.”

But while not much has been done to actually stop cruise ship calls on Venice, a recent accident might just do the trick.

According to an article in the Italian news source Medi Telegraph, the MSC cruise ship Preziosa was involved in an accident at the port of Venice. The ship apparently collided with a large passenger walkway, destroying the walkway – along with the cruise industry’s hopes of continuing calls in Venice, most likely.

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Fishing boatSpring is here and many excited boaters are getting ready to hit the waterways. But as boating season quickly kicks into gear, there are things that all boaters should do each time they head out in order to reduce their risks of getting into a situation where their safety is at issue, and to be able to better their odds of rescue or survival if they end up in trouble out on the water. Our boating accident lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina, & Winkleman, P.A. know that accidents occur at a moment’s notice, however being adequately prepared for them is only second to taking the right steps to prevent them all together.

Last week, three boats partaking in The Bass Federation (TBF) fishing tournament in Lake Powell were reported missing, but due to inclement weather conditions, a rescue mission couldn’t be carried out right away. The missing anglers finally made it back to shore when the weather cleared up, but the incident reminds us that boating is not a risk free endeavor – even for those with experience.

One of the anglers that was caught up in the storm decided to share his story, and from his tale, we learned that several small mistake can lead to a very serious consequences.

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MotorboatThough it’s not quite boating season across America, here in Florida, the Miami maritime attorneys at our firm know to expect tons of eager boating fans who spend ample time in the open waters. But although the perks of being in Florida are great for individuals who enjoy being out on their personal water crafts, it’s not always just plain fun.

Boating accidents can happen at a moment’s notice, and unfortunately, many of these accidents end badly. For many reasons, boaters can become severely injured on the water, but it’s important to understand each state’s maritime laws in order to remain as safe as possible. Accidents can be caused by a number of factors, such as unfavorable weather conditions and faulty equipment, but the majority of the time,  accidents result from negligence.

Speeding, pilot inexperience and intoxication are all factors that can contribute to an accident. And failure to wear a lifejacket is the main reason why victims don’t survive. Even in the most dire of circumstances, a lifejacket can keep a victim afloat long enough for them to be rescued. Many boaters become unconscious following a serious crash, and their lifejackets are the only protection.

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Diving accidentBoating accidents can happen at a moment’s notice, but when the accident occurs under the supervision of an excursion team, liability is often placed on those in charge. Excursion operators have a duty to keep those under their protection safe from harm, and this includes abiding by proper maritime safety laws, having sufficient experience with water-based activities and their vessels, and maintaining their vessels in top condition. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

Though there are times when vessel operators get away with negligent acts, it appears as though one boat captain in Indonesia will be held accountable for his wrongful actions.  The captain, who was involved in a fatal diving expedition near Bali, has been arrested for his role in the tragedy.

Seven Japanese women took part in a diving expedition last week from Nusa Lembongan island but became lost at sea after the vessel they were sailing on left them stranded in the middle of the ocean. Under terrible weather conditions, the divers struggled to survive while drifting in the waters, with no one in sight to help them. Five of the divers somehow managed to climb on top of some rocks until a rescue team arrived – three days later.

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Justice ScaleThere has been a lot of talk regarding cruise ship accidents as of late, but we cannot forget the number of tragic boating accidents that befall the maritime industry. These terrible tragedies occur for several reasons. Some are the result of intoxication while others are caused by speeding or pilot inexperience. Regardless of the reason behind these incidents, it’s important for all boaters and personal watercraft operators to know the laws of their states and abide by the highest standards of maritime safety while out in open waters.

It’s especially hard for our boating accident lawyers when we learn of fatal crashes. Moreover, when those fatal crashes involve young children. The case of one fatal accident involving the death of a young boy on Lake Lanier is still going strong, and a Ranger recently testified in trial, attesting to the horrific accident.

Ranger Mark Stephens, with the Department of Natural Resources, still recalls responding to the tragic July 6, 2012 boating accident, the second boating accident on Lake Lanier involving children he had responded to in less than a month. But this particular accident has stood out because of the young victim’s identity.

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Life saverOur boating accident lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have seen far too many accidents in open waters result from negligence. Whether the accident was the result of speeding, mechanical issues, Boating Under the Influence (BUI), or just plain old distraction, negligence plays a major role in accidents involving pleasure crafts, personal water crafts and professional vessels, but unfortunately, despite the increasing number of serious crashes, not much is being done to reduce the number of tragedies caused by carelessness.

This week, investigators are looking into the sinking of a UK fishing boat, which lead to the death of a crew member, and the results have been shocking.

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RiggingAny of the attorneys at our firm can tell you that maritime safety is critical when it comes to any form of boating or water sport activity. Operators and passengers should always exercise extreme caution when in the open waters, taking care to stay sober and alert and making sure those manning the helm are experienced. But maritime safety also applies to practice outside of actually using the vessel or personal water craft (PWC). Equipment should be kept in good condition, with regular maintenance routines performed to ensure all machinery is operating properly. We can’t tell you how many times a boating accident has resulted from lack of proper maintenance.

Importantly, boat safety isn’t just when the boats in the water, because  part of equipment safety includes the  responsibility to ensure all hooks and securing devices that attach a boat to a moving vehicle are in tip top shape. Though it may not seem obvious, trailing a boat or PWC behind an automobile, truck or motor home can be extremely unsafe. If the vessel comes loose, the results could be devastating.

That’s exactly what happened last Thursday in New South Wales, when a boat that was being towed by a car overturned as it approached a bridge.

The vessel, although small in size, flipped onto the median after the driver pulled out too late from a merging lane before reaching the bridge. Yes, the driver could have paid closer attention, but there’s no reason why a properly secured small vessel should flip over unless it was poorly secured to begin with.

According to police, the boat trailer also collided with another car, disrupting traffic for a significant period of time. Though no one appeared to have been injured, there was extensive damage to the vessel. Damage that may have been avoided had the driver properly secured the vessel.

While any boater should be fully aware of the steps to take when hooking up a boat to a trailer or tow, you’d be surprised to learn how many of them actually do know what to do or how many are aware of the procedure, but choose to ignore it. Same goes for drinking and boating, speeding and other careless actions that can play a role in a tragic accident.  This is one thing that frequently see, across the board, in accidents involving serious injuries:  someone was merely being careless, and someone pays dearly for it.

Here in South Florida, many residents store their vessels at one of our many marinas, while others chose to commute with their boats and PWCs from home. But for most people, commuting is the most popular practice. So, in the spirit of safety, our boating accident lawyers are here to offer a few helpful tips on how to make sure your vessel doesn’t come loose, flip over or cause a crash while being towed.

Tips for securing a boat or PWC:

1)      Make sure your boat or PWC is tied with two individual straps. Don’t forget to add lines for both the bow and stern. You should never use one strap for tying multiple boats.

2)      Tie down both the vessel’s bow and stern to a secure point on the transportation vehicle.

3)      Consider investing in foam blocks. This is a very economical way to transport your boat, kayak or other maritime vessel safely. Attach the blocks to the boat, and then strap the boat to the vehicle. Lastly, secure the bow and stern to the car’s bumpers. Feel free to use an additional strap for added safety.

4)      Consider investing in a roof-mounted rack. These are even safer than foam racks, and best of all, can carry all kinds of other outdoor gear. They come in all shapes and sizes and can attach safety to nearly any kind of vehicle.

5)      Opt for a separate trailer. This is a good option for any kind of boat or PWC, but make sure, as with all other methods, that the equipment is tied down properly.

We understand that even the safest of operators can experience accidents. Ropes may break, other drivers may commit traffic mistakes, and a slew of other unexpected tragedies can occur. This is why we also recommend driving at or below the speed limit to minimize your chance of getting into an accident. As the popular saying goes, better safe than sorry!

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Hong Kong Harbor FerryIt’s only been a little over a year since  Hong Kong experienced one of the worst boating accidents in 40 years, and now, a new ferry crash has left 85 people injured, leaving authorities to question the safety of the city’s harbor once more. The accident occurred late last month when a ferry that was heading to Macau from Hong Kong crashed into an unidentified object shortly after 1 am. The vessel, a high-speed hydrofoil, was transporting 105 passengers and 10 crew members at the time of the accident. There was no major damage to the ferry and so the vessel was able to sail back into port, but the majority of people onboard were hurt. Was negligence to blame?

The experienced boating accident attorneys at our law firm know that unfortunately, the majority of major maritime crashes can be prevented and are usually caused by someone’s negligent actions. Speeding, recklessness, failing to pay attention to surroundings, and intoxication are all factors that can play a role in an accident in open waters. Though these circumstances have all contributed to accidents involving personal vessels, when the person that’s to blame for a crash is the pilot of a public transportation ferry, things get even more complicated.

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Justice ScaleOne of the toughest parts about being a Maritime practitioner is hearing all the sad stories of people being injured or killed due to the negligence or fault of another.  We unfortunately heard another one of these stories out of New York.

Boating accidents can be caused by several factors. Sometimes, the accidents are the result of unforeseeable circumstances such as sudden changes in weather or a rogue wave, while other times, they are caused by another individual or company’s negligence. We have yet to see what a jury will find to be the cause of a recent boat accident in New York, which claimed the lives of two victims, after a widower decided to take legal action.

The widower, Brian Bond, who lost his bride-to-be and best man in a boating accident in July, has sued a boat operator and a barge builder for their role in the tragic incident. But the man is just one of several plaintiffs who have filed civil lawsuits against the company building the new Tappan Zee Bridge in the city.

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