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 »

Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

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Cruise safety, pre-cruise checklist, cruise ship accident lawyersYour long-awaited for cruise vacation is quickly approaching. Like any traveler, you’re likely planning what you’re going to bring aboard, what you’re going to wear, and are making sure that you have the right camera on hand to take those perfect vacation selfies. But while it may be easy to get caught up in the excitement of an upcoming getaway, many cruise passengers often overlook important practical preparations that could keep them safe in the event of an emergency on the high seas. That being said, our cruise ship accident attorneys here at LMAW have put together an easy pre-departure checklist that can help ensure that you and your loved ones are well-prepared for your next cruise vacation and stay as safe as possible.

 

1. Stay informed and keep the right people informed. No one wants to think about worst case scenarios, but every year passengers are sexually assaulted, robbed, and hurt while on board cruise ships. Before you leave, speak to your travel agent or do some research on your own and find out the age of the ship you’ll be sailing on and the vessel’s country of registration. Then, register your vacation with the U.S. Department of State. If there is any problem, the authorities will have all the necessary and correct information at their disposal. More importantly, if any of your important documents are stolen, misplaced or damaged, the U.S. government will have your records on file. This can drastically reduce the time it can take to investigate an accident or crime, as well as protect your rights.

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Cyclone Pam, Port Vila, Vanuatu, cruise passenger safety, cruise ship accident lawyers Cyclone Pam caused serious damage to Vanuatu’s Port Vila in Mid-March. Yet, thanks to the efforts of donors, Port Vila will re-open to tourists this week. Since the hurricane, cruise ships that have been visiting the island nation have not allowed passengers to disembark, but rather, have used the opportunity to ship much needed supplies to the people of Port Vila. Starting this week, tourists will be able to disembark.

Yet, our cruise ship accident lawyers here at LMAW can’t help but wonder if the port is really safe for tourists, especially cruisers.

Carnival Cruise Line representatives claim to have performed an assessment of the conditions in Port Vila. The cruise line, in conjunction with local authorities, have both decided to allow passengers to disembark.Yet, there haven’t been clear reports released about how secure the area is following the damage the storm has caused. And, both Vanuatu and Carnival are relying on continued tourism for revenue. If there’s a rush to get cruising operations resumed in Port Vila, it may compromise the safety of passengers and crew members.

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Disney Wonder cruise passenger, drowning accident, Castaway CayThe recent drowning of a 38-year-old Disney Wonder cruise passenger at Castaway Cay has demonstrated the dire need for increased safety across several maritime arenas. In our last blog, our cruise ship attorneys here at LMAW discussed how the drowning accident highlighted the need for cruise lines to start employing trained lifeguards, both on board a vessel and ashore at a cruise line-owned private island. Drowning accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age, and in the blink of an eye. Reports suggested there were no lifeguards stationed at the adult beach, where this particular accident occurred – even though Disney was the first major cruise line to hire lifeguards for its ships and it also stations lifeguards in family beach areas on Castaway Cay.

Unfortunately, this is not enough. Many cruise ship passenger accidents are related to drowning, and while freak accidents can and do happen, the vast majority of drownings can be prevented by stationing trained lifeguards at all pool and beach areas. Yet, despite the numerous drowning and near-drowning tragedies involving cruise passengers that have recently occurred – including the near-drowning of a 4-year-old boy aboard Oasis of the Seas (a Royal Caribbean ship) – there is no maritime law that currently requires cruise lines to employ lifeguards, nor does there appear to be a concern by the cruise lines themselves to position lifeguards on ships (whether mandatory or not) so as to improve passenger safety.

This leaves passengers with an unfortunate reality – they must fend for themselves.

Aside from the risk of drowning in a cruise ship pool, there are several other dangers that can face individuals on a cruise vacation. Continue reading

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MS Marco Polo, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, cruise passenger death, cruise accident, rogue wave, safety, cruise injury lawyersYesterday, the cruise injury lawyers at our firm reported on the anniversary of the tragic death of an elderly MS Marco Polo cruise passenger. The victim, 85-year-old James Swinstead, was killed after a huge rogue wave hit the side of the vessel, causing two windows in the ship’s restaurant to shatter. Swinstead was sitting with his wife next to the windows when they shattered, and the impact caused him to suffer a fractured skull and brain damage. He died instantly.

Though the death was ruled an accident, an investigation into the matter revealed that there had been cracks in the window frames. Given that cruise lines are required to abide by the highest possible safety standards, how could this alarming safety hazard have been overlooked? Moreover, if the windows shattered as a result of the cracks, why wasn’t Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV), the Marco Polo’s operators, held responsible?

Unfortunately, we can’t say with certainty that the window shattering was directly related to the dislodged frames, but there’s a pretty big chance it was. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it wasn’t just a random coincidence that the windows broke and the failure of the cruise line to maintain the safety of its vessel resulted in the passenger’s death. What could possibly allow the cruise line to get away with it?

Well, several factors, actually.

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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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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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4-year-old boy nearly drowns in Oasis of the Seas cruise ship wave poolOur firm has been chosen to represent the family of a young boy who was involved a near-drowning accident aboard Oasis of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Our cruise ship accident lawyers first reported on the matter last month after learning about the details of the incident. The near-drowning cruise ship accident occurred roughly an hour after Oasis of the Seas departed Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary. The victim, a 4-year-old boy from Italy, was in the ship’s wave pool when he was swept under a wave. He was reported to have been submerged for around six minutes before a fellow passenger realized he was under water. The passenger then pulled the boy out of the pool, but he was unresponsive at the time and did not have a pulse.

Fortunately, there were a number of passengers on the ship who were trained in lifesaving medical procedures, and successfully performed CPR on the boy. The vessel also changed course back toward land so the boy could obtain further and more extensive medical care. He was transported to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, where his condition was listed as critical, and he was placed in a medically-induced coma for several days.

This, sadly, is just one of several accidents that have transpired throughout the years aboard cruise ship pools – and one that may have been prevented had there been a trained lifeguard monitoring the pool. Though ships these days come well-equipped with the latest and greatest entertainment options and technology innovations, few cruise lines actually employ lifeguards to protect the safety of their passengers and they aren’t even required to. There is currently no maritime law that mandates cruise lines to hire lifeguards. Instead, passengers are expected to swim at their own risk – a pretty big risk considering the fact that cruise ships in this day and age are built to hold well over 3,000 passengers.

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Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean, overboard passenger, cruise ship safety, maritime attorneysIn our last blog, we discussed the strange cruise ship overboard accident that has made headlines across the nation. A Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas passenger mysteriously fell overboard last week and was rescued by the Disney Magic. But there are several questions left unanswered.

Witnesses aboard the ship explain that several passengers heard victim while he was in the water crying out for help. After passengers spotted him, the crew of the Disney Magic began a rescue mission. Passengers were able to throw life vessels out to the victim, identified as 22-year-old Frank Jade, and he was subsequently taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.

What’s strange about the incident is that the victim has no recollection about how he fell into the sea. Fortunately – and quite shockingly – he suffered no major injuries as a result of the accident, but our maritime attorneys are left wondering about the real details surrounding the incident and how this passenger could have even survived in the water for so long. If he has no memory of falling, it could mean he lost consciousness. But if the victim was unconscious, how did he stay afloat? Something just doesn’t seem right.

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Royal Caribbean Flowrider - Surf Simulator Wave Pool

Royal Caribbean Flowrider – Surf Simulator Wave Pool

In our last post, our maritime lawyers discussed a four-year-old boy’s near fatal drowning on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship. As details emerge about the accident, concerns have begun to arise regarding the overall safety of cruise ships (or lack thereof), and the cruise industry’s failure to employ life guards to be stationed near onboard pool and Jacuzzi facilities. In particular, the incident raises questions about the safety of wave pools, where the tragic near-drowning accident took place.

The Sun Sentinel reports that the boy had been swept under a wave and was submerged for about six minutes before another guest noticed what had transpired. Six minutes is an extremely lengthy amount of time to be submerged, and can lead to severe consequences – if not death. Without oxygen, the brain begins to die. The brain is the human body’s largest consumer of oxygen, requiring 20% of the body’s overall oxygen intake. After 4 to 6 minutes of being deprived of oxygen, the brain’s cells start to fail.

The boy had no pulse when he was pulled from the water. Though CPR was performed and the boy was revived, he may have already suffered permanent brain damage or a number of other complications, including lung and esophageal damage. The boy is currently in critical condition at Broward Health Medical Center.

Though wave pools may be a lot of fun, in reality, they can be extremely dangerous, especially for young children. Continue reading

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General Santos City - area near cruise ship grounding accident

General Santos City – Area near cruise ship grounding accident

We’ve all heard of sunken treasure before. You know, gold coins, crown jewels, pirate booty, that kind of thing. But does a sunken cruise ship count as treasure? Hmmm, probably not to most, but one particular vessel does seem to strike the Philippine Coast Guard’s fancy.

Now, whether or not the vessel has any hidden treasure is anyone’s guess, but our maritime attorneys are wondering what’s so special about a 23,000-ton Panamanian cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of General Santos City last week. Probably nothing, given that the ship has reportedly been scheduled for decommissioning, but it’s still taking up a lot of space under the water and it may cause numerous issues.

According to a MindaNews report, Philippine Coast Guard commander Lt. Jay Tarriela explained that the MV Victory Pacific, which is currently sitting not so pretty roughly 150 meters off Barangay Dadiangas West, is to be salvaged. The ship was stranded in an area not too far from a coastal community, which could pose a danger to residents, especially because it has been slowly drifting closer to shore. It could also pose a threat to any marine ecosystems as well. The Coast Guard is in the process of investigating whether the accident caused any damage to the coral reefs in the region.

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