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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Boaters these days have access to more technology than ever to keep themselves safe when they hit the high seas. Modern technology has allowed boaters to accomplish extraordinary feats safely that would otherwise have been unimaginable in times past. While Magellan might have sailed around the world in 1522, his crew did this without GPS or other key devices that made for a safer crossing. These days, devices like satellite phones and positioning systems have made it possible for youths like Laura Dekker to sail alone around the world, safely.

So, with the spring boating season just a few months away, it’s time to consider what new gear you’ll be buying to make your boat safer and your boating experience more enjoyable. Here’s a list of the top five high-tech boating devices our boating accident lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. believe will help keep you safe out at sea:

  1. GPS. Modern GPS systems have made it possible for novice and experienced boaters alike to know exactly where they are in the ocean. Modern GPS devices rely on satellites to locate the position of a boat on the water. GPS devices also have the added benefit of helping boaters identify underwater terrain. This can prevent boaters from getting stranded in shallow water. Some GPS devices even help fishermen identify the location of schools. When deciding which GPS device to purchase, boaters should consider the number of satellites the device uses, the size of the screen, and what kind of additional alarms and safety features the device includes.
  2. Wireless Radars. These days, boaters can have their very own radar station on board the ship. Some of the more high-tech devices link up to an iPhone or iPad, allowing boaters to get up-to-the-minute weather reports. Boaters can avoid patches of severe weather using the device, or navigate around storm cells. These devices essentially provide boaters with their very own on-board weather station.
  3. Night Vision. Many boaters who choose to boat at night have been investing in night vision equipment. Thermal imaging cameras allow boaters to identify potential obstacles. Furthermore, this equipment allows boaters to successfully navigate in foggy, smoky, or particularly stormy conditions.
  4. Satellite Hotspots and Cell Service. If your phone isn’t a satellite phone, it can be difficult to maintain communication with loved ones if you leave areas where there is no cell phone service. If you’re traveling out into the sea, having cell phone service can mean the difference between a quick rescue and long days at sea without contact with land. For individuals who don’t want to invest in a satellite phone, there are devices that can turn your existing phone into a satellite device. Many of the services cost about $40.00 per month, plus the cost of the device. The system works anywhere in the world.
  5. Electronic Charts. Gone are the days where boaters have to carry around heavy and cumbersome nautical charts that could get wet, torn, or stained. Now, electronic charts offer up-to-date navigation information for boaters. Because these charts are more readily updated, boaters don’t have to worry about hitting new underwater obstacles.

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cruise ship, cruise ship lawyer, cruise pollutionCruise ships have long been known to be major air and water polluters. One New York Times correspondent recently wrote a column about the problem, citing lack of proper regulation as the main contributing factor to both accidents and pollution on the high seas.

According to The Guardian, the cruise industry burns millions of tons of fuel, and produces over a billion tons of sewage. Exhaust and sewage must be treated or it can fog the air and pollute the water. Some cruise destination countries like Belize are so concerned, that they’ve limited cruise ships to only one area of the beach in order to prevent pollution of more pristine areas. These beaches are often “sacrificed” to allow for cruise tourism to continue. Other countries want to prevent cruise travel from reaching their shores entirely. In fact, cruise ships that use large amounts of fuel are currently banned from traveling to Antarctica because an oil spill there would be disastrous to the environment.

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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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Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean, man overboard, rescue, maritime attorneysWhen a 22-year old man fell overboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Cozumel, Mexico last week, the crew on Disney Magic were put on alert. Finding a passenger who has fallen into the vast ocean is extremely difficult, even for trained Coast Guard personnel, as we discovered in the case of Robert Konrad who fell off his boat and wasn’t spotted by Coast Guard, even after they shined their lights right on him. In a man overboard situation, all people available to scan the water should be asked to help to spot a fallen passenger. It can be very challenging to spot a person in the water, especially if he or she isn’t wearing a life jacket.

Miraculously, the Disney Magic was able to find and rescue the victim. However, the accident raises several concerns, not only calling into question the safety tactics and protocols of both Disney and Royal, but those of the cruise industry as a whole.

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In the wake of the holiday season, our boating accident lawyers have seen numerous reports of accidents and injuries that could have easily been prevented. Last month, a three year old girl had to be airlifted to the hospital in Santa Cruz when the boat she was riding aboard flipped and hit rocks. San Jose Mercury News reported that the vessel was attempting to reach the shore, despite high swells, when the accident occurred. The boat was a rental and the business had warned its patrons about how to approach the shore safely. In this case, negligence and recklessness led to needless injuries suffered by a child.

This incident highlights the inherent risks of navigating in shallow waters. Fortunately, there are many things responsible boaters can do to prevent these types of boating accidents. Here are some important tips you can follow: Continue reading

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cruise ship rape, cruise ship rape lawyerThe recent sentencing of a Holland America crew member who raped and attempted to murder a female passenger aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam on Valentine’s Day, 2014, has raised several concerns over the safety of cruise ships, the efficacy of cruise line background screenings, and whether or not a victim of cruise ship rape can ever truly obtain justice, even when the assailant is caught and sentenced, as this particular crew member was.

The crew member, an Indonesian man named Ketut Pujayasa, was sentenced to over 30 years in prison in a Broward County Federal Court. Pujayasa admitted to his crimes, explaining he committed the heinous crimes after believing the victim had insulted him. Pujayasa obtained a master key to open the victim’s stateroom, where he waited for hours in her balcony until she returned. It was then that he proceeded to violently assault and sexually abuse her, before attempting to throw her overboard from the balcony. Miraculously, the victim escaped. She was present in court when the sentence was passed, but while it appears that a fair sentence was handed down, there is nothing that can erase the unspeakable pain she has suffered.

The damage incurred from the sexual assault and attempted murder can never be completely undone, and the victim continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress. Yet, despite the fact that sexual assault is the number one crime on cruise ships, the cruise industry continues to downplay the issue and has yet to incorporate an effective way to both handle and prevent these horrific crimes from happening.

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boating accidentsRob Konrad’s recent – and miraculous – story of survival, where he explains he swam 9 miles to shore after falling from his vessel while fishing, offers a terrifying reminder of the inherent risks of an accident at sea. Konrad explained that he had several opportunities to be rescued while he was swimming toward shore. On one occasion, he noticed a vessel about 50 yards away. Despite his attempts to flag the vessel for help, the boat passed him by. On another occasion, the Coast Guard, despite using lights and other spotting equipment, failed to see him in the water. Konrad explains that when the Coast Guard left him, he knew for sure that he was on his own.

Though Konrad survived, his experience is not one that is typical for boating accident victims, and highlights the dangers solo boaters face when they go out to sea alone, especially of falling overboard. Fortunately, there are several measures boaters sailing alone can take to protect themselves when they head out for a day of fishing or exploring. Here are a few safety tips that the boating accident lawyers at our firm have outlined, which can help increase a victim’s chances of survival:

 

1) Wear a life jacket

This one goes without saying. Life Jackets are often the only line of defense that a boating accident victim has to survive. They are extremely critical because they will keep a victim afloat, even if the victim is injured or unconscious – which is especially important for solo boaters. Continue reading

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Rob Konrad, boating accidentWe recently wrote about Miami Dolphins Fullback, Rob Konrad’s harrowing nine mile swim to safety following a boating accident in South Florida waters. However, the exact circumstances surrounding the cause of the actual accident remained unclear, until now. In the past several days, Konrad has opened up about his perilous journey to shore. He addressed a press conference on Monday to speak about his traumatic adventure.

Konrad explained that “an unusually large wave” struck his vessel last Wednesday evening. He wasn’t sure whether the wave was due to the natural tide or due to a passing boat’s wake, but explained that the wave hit his boat while a fish was pulling on his line. Konrad went on to say that the combination of forces, the wave and the fish’s pull on his line, caused him to be ejected from the boat. The former NFL player also noted that he realized he was in trouble when he hit the water. After briefly panicking—as anyone would—he made the difficult decision to swim toward shore.

Word of Konrad’s impressive feat has awed audiences far and wide, including Diana Nyad, the famed long-distance swimmer. Continue reading

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Holland America, cruise rape, sentencedIt’s been nearly a year since a Holland America passenger was raped and nearly killed by a cruise ship crew member aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam ship on Valentine’s Day, 2014. We can’t even begin to imagine the unspeakable amount of suffering the victim underwent – or the suffering any other cruise ship rape victim undergoes – but now, finally, at least some semblance of justice has been attained.

According to news reports, a verdict has been reached in the case. The former HAL crew member was sentenced to 30 years and five months in prison in a Broward County Federal Court.

Back in September, Ketut Pujayasa, the Indonesian crew member in question, confessed to brutally raping, beating, and attempting to throw the passenger overboard from the balcony in her stateroom to FBI officials. Pujayasa told officials he believed the victim insulted him, and plotted revenge against her. He then obtained a master key and entered her room while she was away, waited for her in the balcony, and once the victim came back to the stateroom, he sexually assaulted her and tried to throw her overboard as a form of “punishment”.

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What to do in man overboard situationsWe recently written about former Miami Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad who swam nine miles to shore after he fell off his boat. Boating accidents of this type are actually more common than we’d like to think and they can be particularly dangerous if boaters become separated from their boats while solo-boating.

Falling overboard on a sailboat is actually particularly dangerous. With all the moving sails, it is possible for a passenger or sailor to get knocked overboard by a boom. Man overboard scenarios are actually among the most reported boating emergencies. People fall overboard for many reasons. Bad weather or strong waves can knock a person into the water. Slippery decks can also create a situation where a boater falls from their vessel, as can leaning over the edge of a vessel or getting hit by a part of the boat.

In the event of an overboard accident, there are several things people can do to assist the victim. First, immediately stop the vessel’s engine or drop the sails to remain in the area where the victim fell overboard. Do not back the vessel up, because this can lead the victim to sustain an injury from contact with the boat’s propellers. Propeller accidents are very common and can lead to life-threatening – if not fatal – injuries.

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