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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sexual assault, cruise shipsCruise vacations should be fun, right? They should offer the perfect chance to relax and unwind, as well as the opportunity to discover new, exciting destinations. The last thing anyone ever expects is for their cruise vacation to go from fun to being a nightmare. Unfortunately, this is the reality many cruise passengers face when they become the victims of sexual assault on the high seas.

Sexual assault is the number one crime on cruise ships, yet, cruise lines appear nonchalant about these statistics. Anyone can become a victim of sexual assault on the high seas – from children to crew members! Yet, cruise lines continue to withhold evidence when reporting sexual crimes, continue to avoid hiring trained security guards, and continue to perform limited background checks on potential crew members – all of which contribute to greater prevalence of sexual assault incidents on board ships.

Unfortunately, we don’t foresee the cruise industry turning over a new safety leaf anytime soon. This means that it’s up to passengers to try and remain as safe as possible. Continue reading

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Jewel of the Seas cruise ship fireAfter the Carnival Triumph debacle in February, 2013, maritime authorities, cruise lawyers, and cruise-goers alike have been paying closer attention to cruise ship fires and accidents involving cruise lines in general. Both authorities and the general public have been made aware that cruise lines don’t always reveal accurate accident statistics, which has led many to wonder just how many incidents have gone undocumented and unnoticed.

This brings us to a curious rumor involving a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Earlier this month, there were a number of reports alluding that there had been a minor fire aboard the Jewel of the Seas ship, which allegedly affected several areas on the vessel. According to online posts, the supposed fire broke out around 5:30 PM shortly after Jewel of the Seas left Bridgetown Barbados while on a 7-night Southern Caribbean itinerary. It was allegedly the result of a blown power breaker. Online accounts explained the fire was allegedly extinguished without any passenger or crew injuries.

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Valentine's Day cruise risksIn our last blog, our maritime attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman talked about how a Valentine’s Day cruise can be a breeding grounds for potentially life-threatening scenarios at sea. While many cruisers embark on a Valentine’s cruise to have a good time with their significant others or even celebrate the single life with their friends, there are several risks that can present themselves on a holiday sailing. Last time, we discussed how scorned travelers can create a threatening situation on a ship. Scorned travelers are individuals who may be suffering from severe heartbreak, loneliness, or any other depressive state of mind. The actions of these passengers can be unpredictable, and can lead to troublesome situations on the high seas, including violence.

However, there are a number of other factors that can create a dangerous environment on a Valentine’s Day sailing besides scorned travelers. Below are some of the main safety threats for passengers cruising on Valentine’s Day and how to best avoid them:

 

Higher likelihood of sexual assault

Many of the individuals who opt for a Valentine’s Day cruise are single women who are just looking to have a good time with their also single girlfriends. Continue reading

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Valentine's Day cruise safetyValentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and for many, love is definitely in the air. Some of you may be celebrating several years of happiness together, while others are enjoying the start of a blossoming relationship. And then there are those of us who are either seeking to find a new connection with that special someone that has yet to come into our lives, or who couldn’t be happier enjoying the single life and use the holiday as a way to commemorate their independent lifestyle.

Though we may all be looking forward to different things this Valentine’s Day, sure enough, there will be a large number of people who will be spending the holiday out at sea on a cruise vacation – and for good reason. After all, few things can compare to watching a glowing sunset from the shores of a tropical beach in the Caribbean, or a sunrise from a private balcony stateroom with your special someone. Indeed, cruise vacations can be quite romantic and a wonderful way to spend a holiday with those whom we love. Unfortunately, though a Valentine’s Day cruise is wrought with an abundant amount of opportunities to experience an unforgettable moment with our significant others, there’s more to the holiday than chocolates, flowers, and being swept off your feet – especially when out in open waters.

Any cruise ship attorney at LMAW well knows that there’s a big downside to cruising on Valentine’s Day, and anyone considering a holiday sailing this week should exercise extra caution. The holiday embodies love and passion, but there’s always another side of the coin. Some travelers may very well be in love – or looking for love – on a Valentine’s Day cruise, but others are looking for trouble.

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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

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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

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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