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 »

Published on:

Boating safety checklist for springSpring is just around the corner. Soon, it will be time to put away those coats and hats, and take out your shorts, your cooler, and get your boat or jet ski ready for the season. Yet, before you go out on the water this spring, there are some important things you should consider to make sure that your boat and jet skis are safe.

Our boating accident attorneys here at LMAW see more accidents in the spring due to increased traffic. Poor maintenance and lack of proper safety equipment sometimes contributes to these accidents and, in some cases, a lack of proper safety equipment exacerbates emergencies. If you’ve kept your boat in storage over winter, it may need some patching up, and your equipment might need to be double-checked. Cold weather can damage your equipment, so it’s best to make sure everything is working before you head out onto the water.

First off, it’s important to note that every boat is different, and the kinds of checks you’ll perform for a motorboat will be a little different than the kinds of checks you’d perform for a sailboat. Always read your owner’s manual and perform any safety checks recommended by the manufacturer. Continue reading

Published on:

Surfing safety, maritime lawyerThe winter swells are picking up on many surf beaches across the country and surfers are taking advantage of the waves—even up north. Surfing can be a fun way to experience the water and beach, but as any maritime lawyer at LMAW can tell you, it also presents unique dangers.

Unfortunately, strong surf can often be lead to a greater number of accidents. And while surf lore might make the uninitiated think that sharks are the biggest danger out on the water, the reality is that shark attacks constitute a negligible number of the surfing accidents that occur every year. More likely contributors are collisions between surfers and swimmers, and hard falls onto reefs and sandbars. Falls and collisions can lead to injuries ranging from lacerations to broken bones to paralysis and death. Being aware of your surroundings and surfing within your abilities can help prevent tragedy.

In many locations across the country, surfers have to check more than just the weather report. Some beaches are closed to surfing at certain times of year to protect swimmers and some beaches even require surfers to use a leash. Failure to observe these rules will not just merit reprimanding by the life guard, but might also result in legal repercussions.

So, what can surfers do to make the water safe for everyone? Continue reading

Published on:

LifeguardAfter a young boy nearly drowned in an Oasis of the Seas wave pool last month, the need for cruise lines to hire trained lifeguards to work on board ships is more apparent than ever before. Lifeguards are specifically trained to look for certain signs of danger and can respond to an emergency the moment it happens. With the current trend in cruise ship size favoring larger, aka “mega ships”, able to carry well over 3,000 passengers, the chances of a drowning or near-drowning accident are much higher.

Our cruise ship accident lawyers here at LMAW have often stressed just how critical it is for cruise lines to have lifeguards on board, yet, as it currently stands, there is no maritime law in place that actually requires cruise lines to do so. Why is that?

Well, though cruise lines haven’t actually come clean about their reasons for not employing lifeguards on ships, we can speculate as to why they haven’t done so. Let’s explore some of these possible reasons.

Cost

Though building a mega ship like Oasis of the Seas costs quite a pretty penny (we’re talking a billion dollars), as does the wide range of entertainment options provided on these vessels, cruise lines don’t tend to invest the same amount of revenue on safety features – lifeguards being a main factor in the preservation of passenger safety. Sure, they have no qualms about dishing out the big bucks on those “wow” factor features, like AquaTheaters or FlowRiders, but in the grand scheme of things, the cost of hiring lifeguards is a miniscule expense when compared to the amount spent on all the glitz and glam. If cost really is a factor, then maybe it’s time cruise lines reprioritized. Establishing a safe shipboard environment should be the primary area where funds are allocated to because all the cool attractions on a ship won’t mean anything if no one wants to sail on a ship that isn’t safe.

Continue reading

Published on:

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.

Continue reading

Published on:

boating accidentAny boating accident attorney at our firm can tell you that though there are several maritime laws across the United States that were enacted with the purpose of regulating safety on open waters, tragic accidents continue to occur. Sometimes, the laws in place are not strict enough and do not sufficiently protect the safety of boaters. Other times, boaters ignore these laws and engage in reckless actions, such as drinking while boating or speeding, which can lead to serious – if not fatal – outcomes.

Unfortunately, many boating accident victims are unaware of their rights – especially rights concerning their safety and rights to take action following injury or loss of a loved one. However, the parents of two young women who were killed in unrelated boat accidents in Lake Marion last year in South Carolina took a stand, hoping that their tragic experiences can call attention to the dangers of boating, as well as lead lawmakers to improve maritime safety regulations in the state.

And, it appears as though their efforts have proved successful. A recent news report explains that two state senators have already proposed safety regulations they believe will allow boaters to enjoy their time in open waters, while also (and most importantly) allowing them to remain safe.

Continue reading

Published on:

Cruise ship travel in VeniceOur cruise ship lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have written about the environmental impact of the cruise industry and the lack of transparency of the industry in reporting pollution and waste management on board cruise ships many times before. The problem has become so serious that certain countries have gone as far as to ban cruise ships from docking or to limit the places and beaches where cruise ships can dock.

In 2014, Venice banned large cruise ships from travelling in Saint Mark’s basin and in the Giudecca Canal. The decision was made to protect Venice and the environment from damage that these large ships can cause. The ban was put into effect as a result of the Costa Concordia disaster. Fox News reports that celebrities, including Michael Douglas and Cate Blanchett supported the ban, citing the fact that large cruise ships can increase the risk of flooding in Venice. The city is already subject to serious flooding on a regular basis.

Yet, recent news reports reveal that Venice has had a change of heart about the ban. Tourism groups rallied to support a ban—but only after alternate canals and infrastructure has been put in place to properly re-route cruise vessels. The Contorta Sant’Angelo Channel, when completed, will afford larger cruise ships a safer passage through Venice.

Continue reading

Published on:

boating accidentsAccording to the U.S. Coast Guard, drunken boating is responsible for more fatal accidents that any other factor. More states are enacting harsher penalties for drunken boating. For instance, boaters who are caught with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher in Florida are subject to penalties similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. A first offense carries with it a fine up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 6 months. A second offense brings with it a fine up to $2,000 and imprisonment up to 9 months. If a person’s blood alcohol level is found to be much higher than the legal limit, offenders face more serious charges including required substance abuse treatment courses and mandatory community service.

These harsh penalties are put in place because drunk boaters pose a very real and serious risk to other people out on the water. On January 20th, a drunken boater received a jail sentence of 5 to 15 years for causing an accident that left two people dead. Brandon Verfaillie who was responsible for the deadly accident expressed his regret. His speedboat slammed into a cabin cruiser on the St. Clair river. He was found to be drunk at the time.

Thanks to Boaters Against Drunk Driving, more states have enacted harsher penalties for boaters who choose to drive while under the influence. Boaters Against Drunk Boating has also been monitoring drunk boating cases throughout the U.S. to ensure that boaters who are accused of drinking and boating are convicted and sentenced for their offense.

Continue reading

Published on:

jones act, jones act lawyer, tugboat accidentTugboats are considered the workhorses of the sea. They might be small, but their powerful engines allow them to pull larger ships and perform other crucial duties, like breaking up sea ice to allow the passage of other boats. Yet, crews aboard tugboats are subject to additional risks because they often have to pull around larger vessels that are unable to maneuver on their own. Sometimes these larger vessels carry hazardous materials, like oil or chemicals. Tugboat accidents occur when the boats capsize, experience breakdowns, collisions, and when equipment on board the ships causes injuries.

A tugboat accident recently reached national news, when a vessel in East China carrying an international crew capsized in the Fubei Channel in Jiangsu Provence. The New York Times reports that 22 people died in the accident. The rescue operation was made difficult due to swift currents in the channel. The vessel was eventually pulled to the surface and investigators were able to search inside. Four Singaporeans, an Indian, an Indonesian, a Japanese, and a Malasian are among the casualties.

The tugboat had been recently constructed and was on a test voyage when the accident took place. One survivor explained that the ship filled with water within 20 seconds, making it difficult for people to escape the sinking vessel. Government officials explain that the ship was undergoing testing without completing required procedures that included reporting on the condition of the tugboat, as required by current regulations.

Continue reading

Published on:

Seven Seas Mariner, RegentIn Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy, the keel was laid for what is touted to be the most luxurious cruise ship in history. The 750-passenger Regent ship will be an all-suite luxury vessel unlike anything that has come before.

The keel laying ceremony was the epitome of opulence. Master sommelier, Michela Cimatoribus popped the cork on a magnum bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée, which triggered a laser, which then cut the first piece of steel for the Seven Seas Explorer ship. During the ceremony, a Rolls Royce Phantom also delivered three symbolic coins to commemorate the commencement of construction. The coins were welded into the construction of the vessel. The archbishop of Genoa also blessed the metal.

The ship will offer passengers more space and privacy than any other ship before it. Additionally, its Regent Suite is billed to be the most opulent suite on board a cruise ship. At 3,875 square feet, its master bedroom features a wall of windows overlooking the ocean, and a private onsite spa. The room will reportedly cost passengers $65,000.

But perhaps the best news our maritime attorneys have heard about the ship thus far is the fact that it will employ cutting-edge environmental protection measures. Just the other day, we talked about how several major cruise lines are avoiding environmental safety protocols and polluting marine habitats and the air with harmful substances, chemicals, and wastewater.

Continue reading

Published on:

Elderly Woman Lives Aboard Crystal SerenityCruise vacations can bring wonderful memories when cruise lines take proper safety precautions and when nothing goes wrong—but one woman took her love of cruise vacations to the next level.

Lee Wachtstetter is an 86-year-old widow who has been living on a cruise ship for the last seven years. Her rent comes out to about $164,000 per year, after tips, drinks, and the cost of each cruise – a pretty hefty price, but she doesn’t seem to mind. After her husband passed away, Wachtstetter sold her estate in Fort Lauderdale and decided to become a permanent resident on a cruise ship, at the suggestion of her daughter.

It was actually Wachtstetter’s husband who introduced her to cruising. During their fifty years of marriage, they took 89 cruises together. The day before her husband passed away from cancer in 1997, he asked her to not stop cruising and Wachtstetter honored his request. Since his passing, Wachtstetter has taken over a hundred cruises and says that she stopped counting countries she’s visited once the tally reached 100.

Continue reading