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 Cruise Ship Accidents

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Rogue waveTuesday, our cruise ship accident lawyers recounted the hellish story of an elderly cruise passenger who was killed after a rogue wave crashed into the vessel he was sailing on. The victim, an 85-year-old man who was identified as James Swinstead, was one of two cruise passengers who were severely injured after a massive wave crashed into the side of the MS Marco Polo ship on February 14, shattering several windows in the dining area and harming a number of passengers. Swinstead and the other passenger were evacuated to the nearest shore side hospital, but sadly, Swinstead did not make it. The other injured passengers were treated onboard.

Our firm has talked extensively about the cruise industry’s failure to properly abide by maritime laws regarding safety, and while recounting this tragic accident yesterday, one of our attorneys, Michael Winkleman, discussed how cruise lines often attribute “rogue wave” accidents to chance so as to avoid taking responsibility for any accidents that ensue due to their own failure to protect the safety of their guests.

By definition, a rogue wave is basically a giant wave that appears to come out of nowhere.  It is much larger than surrounding waves and has enough power to impale a cruise ship. But while these natural phenomena do appear to pop up spontaneously, they tend to appear in areas known for dangerous waters and during massive storms.

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Rogue waveOur cruise ship accident lawyers have been covering a wide range of cases as of late, from passenger disappearances to tragic sexual assault crimes. More often than not, these terrible happenings could have  been prevented had the cruise lines in question boosted their security measures and safety procedures. Having represented literally thousands of victims who have suffered accidents and crimes on the high seas, it comes as no surprise to the lawyers at our firm that negligence or wrongdoing is to blame for the vast majority of these incidents.  However, we’ve just learned of a horrible cruise accident that may have actually been just that – an accident.

Our attorneys have just come to learn that a passenger aboard the British-based cruise ship MS Marco Polo, owned by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, was killed after the ship was hit by a “freak wave during adverse sea conditions.” The vessel was sailing into the English Channel on February 14 when the accident occurred and was transporting a total of 735 passengers and 349 crew members.

By common definition, a “rogue” wave is a giant wave that unexpectedly comes out of nowhere.  Scientifically, a rogue wave is a wave that is greater than twice the size of surrounding waves.  In practice, a “rogue” wave is a defense put up by cruise lines or ship owners in order to avoid responsibility for sailing into dangerous waters, which are often known to include GIANT waves.

To this very point, the UK had been reportedly suffering with unfavorable weather last month, from torrential rains to horrific floods to huge waves at sea.  Thus, this alleged  massive rogue wave devastating the cruise ship couldn’t really be that much of a surprise, could it?

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Costa CruisesThey say you can never go home again. But it appears that saying doesn’t really apply to the former Captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino.  Over two years after Schettino manned the helm of the Costa Concordia and ultimately contributed to its fatal crash, and several months since he was charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship, the controversial captain is now back at the port of Giglio, Italy.

This is the first time Schettino has been back to the site of the wreck since the Concordia crashed off the coast of Giglio in January 2012.  Donning his usual garb (dark sunglasses and a leather jacket), Schettino arrived at the port and was immediately bombarded by the media.

The captain, and several other crew members, were accused of contributing to the crash. The cruise ship accident lawyers at our firm have been keeping up with the investigation, but despite all the stories and accusations, the portion of blame which has been placed on Schettino doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Schettino was the one who reportedly decided to make the last minute change in itinerary that brought the Concordia too close to shore. And as a result, the vessel crashed into a huge rock, which tore a hole in the hull and led it to capsize.

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Costa CruisesOur maritime attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have talked at length about the tragic Costa Concordia accident that killed 32 people. Although two years have passed since the tragic crash, the disaster still seems fresh, not only in our minds, but especially in the minds of victims and those who lost loved ones in the wreck.

There have been countless explanations offered for the crash, but the predominant theory is that Concordia captain Francesco Schettino was to blame. Schettino was reportedly the one that ordered the last minute itinerary change that ultimately led to the ship’s demise. And he wasn’t the last man standing on the ship. But while Schettino’s actions are questionable, should he be getting the brunt of the blame? At this point, is he being attacked unreasonably?

Let’s take a look at the facts.

The Costa Concordia accident occurred on January 13, 2012. Schettino reportedly decided to make a last minute call to change the ship’s itinerary in order to perform a maneuver called a “salute” that would bring the vessel closer to shore. In doing so, the Concordia struck a large rock and capsized off the coast of Giglio.

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Costa CruisesIt’s hard to believe that almost two years have passed since the tragic Costa Concordia capsizing accident. Around this time two years ago, one captain reportedly made an unapproved call to change the Concordia’s itinerary at the last minute in order to “show off” his skills and the ship. The vessel was approaching the coast of Giglio, Italy and the captain, Francesco Schettino, wanted to perform a maneuver called a “salute”, which would bring the ship very close to shore – too close. In the attempt, the Concordia struck a giant underwater rock, which tore the vessel’s hull and caused water to begin cascading in.

An emergency evacuation was called, but there was more of a panic and frenzy among crew members than among the frightened passengers themselves. Those who survived recounted a nightmarish experience, with crews struggling to communicate and to execute a comprehensive, successful escape plan.

In the end, 32 victims lost their lives because of the actions of one man – Francesco Schettino. But he wasn’t the only one responsible. Several other Concordia crew members were arrested, charged and found guilty of manslaughter, but managed to evade the law after their sentences were suspended. We have yet to learn the captain’s fate, but since everyone else, including the cruise line, has avoided persecution, it seems the full brunt of the blame will fall on his hands.

Justice has been an elusive concept for both surviving victims and the loved ones of those who perished in the tragic accident, but it seems that maybe one man’s conscience has finally gotten the best of him. According to a Carnival Corp. press release, Costa Cruises’ former CEO is retiring.

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SOS man overboard rescue missionThe new cruise year hasn’t exactly started off the way our maritime lawyers had hoped. We were hoping that maybe, just maybe, 2014 would be the year where the cruise industry finally takes a stand against accidents and crimes and puts forth maximum effort to protect both passengers and crew members on their ships. Our attorneys were hoping that perhaps, cruise lines would shift a little of their focus on improving safety technology on their vessels in order to prevent tragic accidents and crimes from happening, or at least to drastically reduce their occurrence rate. With so much new and exciting technology that can help increase maritime safety, including infrared detection systems that can play a vital role in rescuing victims who go overboard, we were really thinking cruise lines might make a significant change for the better.

Unfortunately, 2014 hasn’t started out quite as we had hoped. Instead, there have already been several accidents, including more overboard accidents. Two Royal Caribbean passengers have gone missing in the first week of the New Year. We reported on the matter just last week, when we learned that a 26-year-old Canadian man allegedly “jumped” off the Adventurer of the Seas as the vessel was sailing near Puerto Rico, as per the ship’s video surveillance footage. Then, just days later, another Canadian passenger, this time a 65-year-old man sailing onboard the Independence of the Seas, disappeared in the middle of the night. Police suspect this victim “fell” off the ship, but with the abundance of surveillance cameras on this ship as well as the Adventurer, how is it that we have no concrete knowledge of what happened to him?

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Cruise ship stuck on iceA few days ago, the cruise ship lawyers at our firm reported on an accident that put a big damper on the holiday spirit. Seventy five people onboard the Russian-operated Akademik Shokalskiy took a holiday cruise around the arctic, but instead of spending a fun-filled trip enjoying the holidays as they cruised through one of the most beautiful and remote locations in the world, what they got was a Christmas stuck inside a block of ice.

The vessel became trapped in the ice last week and had to spend the holiday stranded in the middle of nowhere. The area where the cruise ship got stuck was so remote, that rescue crews was expected to take about two days to arrive. Unfortunately, it took a lot longer than that. Due to unfavorable weather conditions, the passengers onboard the Akademik Shokalskiy had to spend not only Christmas, but New Years stuck in the ice as well.

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Cruise ship stuck on iceMany people take holiday cruises with their loved ones to get away from the traditional celebrations and experience something exciting and new. These kinds of cruise vacations can be a lot of fun, but as we well know here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., cruises can sometimes be a bit…unpredictable. Accidents on the high seas and in port are common for passenger ships, especially this year, which saw one – if not the highest – rate of accidents, injuries, illnesses, and crimes. Most of these incidents are caused by cruise line negligence, including lack of crew training or failure to perform maintenance on machinery. But a recent accident this week has us wondering if crew members were even paying attention while navigating.

Fifty-seven people boarded the Russian-operated Akademik Shokalskiy this week, hoping to have a fun-filled holiday at sea. Little did they know that fun would be the furthest from what they would actually experience.

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Cruise ship inspectionIt seems as though we aren’t the only ones experiencing issues with maritime vessels here in the U.S., apparently, officials in Scotland are not very pleased with the work of their Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) inspection protocols. In the wake of our maritime lawyers finding out that Carnival Cruise Line knew about the possible risk of fires associated with engine fuel hoses and advised the Triumph to install spray shields before the highly publicized fire accident in February, we have just learned that the Scottish Coast Guard is in trouble for an accident involving a cooling system as well.

According to reports from Scottish authorities, the government’s Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has called for improvements with the Coastguard’s vessel inspection and survey policies. The reason? Two major maritime accidents involving sunken ships. The first vessel that sunk was a Scottish fishing boat and the other (only a month after the first accident) involved an English trawler. With both sinkings, it was determined that the vessels had identical problems with their cooling systems.

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Cruise shipsThe cruise ship lawyers at our firm have seen some pretty bad accidents this year. Some involved serious injuries to passengers, while others resulted in devastating damage to the actual ships. Several of these incidents were the result of equipment issues that were potentially overlooked during inspections. Celebrity is just the latest of several cruise ships to be plagued with mechanical problems. From Carnival Cruise Line to Royal Caribbean, this year has seen some pretty severe cruise ship accidents, many of which were the result of negligence. But while these two cruise lines are the ones most often seen in the limelight, this time, it’s Celebrity that has been plagued with issues.

But are these issues just mere coincidence or are they result of a larger problem within the cruise line?

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