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 »

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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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Life saver Last week, our maritime law firm discussed the increasing tensions in the Middle East and how cruise lines might soon need to modify itineraries – if not drop all port calls in Israel – if the conflict over the Gaza Strip continues. Israel and Palestine have been in a state of unrest over the rights to the Gaza Strip for years, but recently, the conflict has become aggressive once more, with both countries exchanging threats and attacks. There is a huge risk that a cruise ship sailing near the area – which many frequently do – will become a casualty of the conflict, which our maritime attorney Jason Margulies addressed in a previous blog. Ashdod and Haifa are two cities that cruise ships call on frequently, and if cruise lines do not cease these port calls, they might get caught in the line of fire.

Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that our fear has already come to pass. According to an article on telegraph.co.uk, an AIDA Cruises ship that had been sailing near the Israeli coast was hit with debris from a missile last month.

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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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Life saver Things are getting worse in the Middle East, and this could spell trouble for cruise lines. As the conflict between Israel and Palestine over the Gaza Strip continues to escalate, we’re left to wonder when – and even if – cruise lines are going to start pulling their ships out of the area and cease all port calls. With unexpected militia attacks and violent outbreaks among civilians, cruise travelers may get caught up in the turmoil and suffer disastrous consequences.

A temporary cease-fire had many wondering if the nations would lead to peace, but after a three-day truce expired and a boarder deal brokered by Egypt hit a stalemate, Israel and militants from Gaza resumed action today. Sadly, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and two Israelis were injured from Palestinian rocket fire. We sincerely hope cruise lines will avoid even sailing near the warzone because they may very well get caught in the crossfire.

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cruise ship drink packagesLast time, our maritime lawyers discussed a seemingly exciting promotion that is – on the surface – aimed at helping cruise passengers save money. Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced an All-Inclusive package for 2015 sailings that features all the extras cruisers love, including unlimited dining, special internet discounts, and of course, unlimited drinks. But while it might save cruise passengers some money initially, it may end up costing them a lot more in the end.

The All-Inclusive deal comes with an “unlimited beverage package” offer, which for many, is great. As part of the package, guests can enjoy unlimited beverages from a wide selection of sodas, beers, wines, cocktails and other spirits. For those of us who have cruised before, we know drinks do not come cheap. If a glass of soda can run you $5, a cocktail can cost well over $15. On any given cruise, passengers may end up paying hundreds of dollars in drinks alone. Naturally, for cruise guests who enjoy alcoholic beverages, this package certainly has its appeal.

However, from the standpoint of a maritime lawyer, a cruise package that offers unlimited alcoholic drinks can be a ticket to disaster for some passengers. In our last blog, we talked about some of the effects of shipboard alcohol intoxication, and how it can lead to accidents, injuries, fights, sexual assault, and even death. If a cruise passenger who pay for each individual drink tend to drink more on board than on land, imagine how exponentially higher the likelihood of over-drinking is when there’s no cap on the number of drinks you can consume for money you have already paid out and will not be getting back. It is the same as going to a fixed price buffet, human nature takes over and people tend to over indulge. Continue reading