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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Safety tips, cruise ship rape, spring breakersSpring break is around the corner, which means there are going to be a lot of kids, teens, and college students cruising around the world. Some will be cruising with their parents, while others will venture off into the seas with friends. Given the higher number of young passengers that will be sailing on cruise vacations in the upcoming weeks, our attorneys here at LMAW would like to take a moment to discuss one of the largest threats that often face young and female travelers while out at sea: cruise ship rape.

Though cruise vacations are intended to be fun and relaxing, they often become a breeding grounds for cruise ship rape crimes. Statistics show that sexual assault is the type of crime that occurs most frequently on cruise ships, which is why it is imperative that spring breaker cruisers remain as cautious as possible. If you have planned on going on a cruise during spring break, our cruise ship rape lawyers have three important tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim of a sexual crime: Continue reading

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Safety tips, fishing, boating accident lawyerFishing is often seen as a relaxing sport that allows participants to enjoy time in nature, and maybe get a nice meal or two out of it in the process. But with fishing season is fast-approaching, it’s important to remember that though fun, any activity in open water carries a risk of danger – even fishing. Any boating accident lawyer at our firm can tell you horror stories of fishermen that can leave you cringing, but the best way to avoid a tragedy is through awareness.

So, before you take out your tackle and hit the coast, shore, or high seas, be sure to take the time to brush up on safety laws and tactics. Below are seven important safety tips that will help reduce your risk of accident and injury while fishing, whether you are an experienced angler or novice fishing enthusiast: Continue reading

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Carnival Glory cruise passenger reported missingMany believe cruise vacations are all about having fun and leaving worries behind. Rightfully, they should be. Unfortunately, as our cruise accident lawyers here at LMAW know all too well, that’s not always the case. There have been over 240 overboard accidents reported in the last 20 years alone, and now, it appears as though there may be one more to add to that harrowing statistic.

According to a recent post on CruiseJunkie, a website created by Sociology Professor and cruise expert Ross Klein and devoted to informing the public about cruise and maritime accidents, crimes, and other important statistics, there have been reports that a passenger has gone overboard from the Carnival Glory cruise ship.

The post explains that the passenger went overboard sometime in the early hours of Sunday, March 8, while the Carnival Glory was sailing to Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. According to passenger accounts, crews reviewed the ship’s surveillance footage and the vessel did not make its scheduled call on the Bahamian port. Instead, the CruiseJunkie post explains the ship “did circles” around the area, and was joined by another Carnival vessel in a search for the missing passenger.

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maritime law, admiralty law, admiralty lawyer, boating accident, boating accident claimIn February, a federal judge sent a boating accident case down to state court, arguing that, in this instance, U.S. maritime law didn’t apply. Matthew Ficarra was riding on Bruce Germain’s 38-foot boat in Oneida Lake’s Three Mile Bay, when he performed a back flip off the boat, hit his head in shallow water, and was paralyzed as a result of his injuries.

Germain claimed that federal courts had jurisdiction over the case because the case fell under U.S. maritime law. Germain sought federal jurisdiction, because, had maritime law held, Germain would have only been liable for Ficarra’s accident up to the value of the vessel. According to the New York Law Journal, the value of Germain’s vessel would have set an upper limit on the amount Germain would have to pay Ficarra.

Generally, maritime law applies to commercial vessels. Yet, maritime law can also apply in cases where accidents occur in interstate waters. Interstate waters are generally defined as navigable bodies of water that border two or more states. This means that injuries and accidents that take place in oceans, lakes, or rivers that border states can fall under admiralty law.

The judge wrote in the ruling that the accident would not have caused any disruption to commercial shipping. The fact that the body of water is located centrally in New York state and not along a border and the fact that the body of water where the accident took place isn’t frequently used by commercial shipping vessels likely resulted in the case being sent to state court.

For anyone who has been injured in a boating accident, it’s important to understand the difference between cases that fall under state law and those that can fall under admiralty law, and whether a case can be filed under both. Continue reading

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cruise travel, Cuba, embargo, cruise lawyersIf you’ve ever thought about cruising to Cuba, your traveling dreams may soon become a reality. Back in December, our cruise lawyers reported that the U.S. was in the process of resuming diplomatic ties with the Caribbean island nation, which could mean significant changes to the cruise industry in the fact that the resuming full diplomacy with Cuba can lead to increased cruise travel to the island.

These recent changes in U.S. law have made it easier for U.S. citizens to travel to the previously off-limits country. Those who are interested in cruising or visiting the island nation now have more options than ever before. Cuba Cruises, for instance, recently stated that U.S. citizens will be allowed on their cruises on a limited basis. Despite this, travelers shouldn’t expect major cruise lines to start making Cuba a major port of call anytime soon. Though most major cruise lines register their ships in foreign countries, the fact that they are still based out of the U.S. means that they are still not allowed to travel to Cuba. On top of that, any cruise line that engages in trade with Cuba faces U.S. restrictions of up to six months.

So, what can you expect if you do decide to travel to Cuba? Perhaps a bit of a culture shock. If you’ve never been on a cruise before, you might not realize that foreign countries don’t all enjoy the same kinds of luxuries that we here in the U.S. do.

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Rip currentThe recent drowning death of a Disney Wonder cruise passenger at Castaway Cay has brought to light the host of hazards that not only cruise passengers can face, but any beach-goer in general. The accident shows us that no matter how old you are or how skilled at swimming you may be, accidents can still happen. So, in keeping with our focus on ocean safety, our maritime lawyers here at LMAW would like to call attention to one of the most common dangers for beach-goers and the factor most often responsible for lifeguard-assisted rescues: rip currents.

Rip currents are narrow, localized, and very strong currents that form near beaches as breaking waves push water toward the shore. When the volume of water near the shore becomes too great, it needs a way back out to sea. Enter rip currents. The easiest way to explain a rip current is to think of it as a drain, removing excess water from the shore and leading it back out into the ocean.

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Disney Wonder cruise passenger, drowning accident, Castaway CayThe recent drowning of a 38-year-old Disney Wonder cruise passenger at Castaway Cay has demonstrated the dire need for increased safety across several maritime arenas. In our last blog, our cruise ship attorneys here at LMAW discussed how the drowning accident highlighted the need for cruise lines to start employing trained lifeguards, both on board a vessel and ashore at a cruise line-owned private island. Drowning accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age, and in the blink of an eye. Reports suggested there were no lifeguards stationed at the adult beach, where this particular accident occurred – even though Disney was the first major cruise line to hire lifeguards for its ships and it also stations lifeguards in family beach areas on Castaway Cay.

Unfortunately, this is not enough. Many cruise ship passenger accidents are related to drowning, and while freak accidents can and do happen, the vast majority of drownings can be prevented by stationing trained lifeguards at all pool and beach areas. Yet, despite the numerous drowning and near-drowning tragedies involving cruise passengers that have recently occurred – including the near-drowning of a 4-year-old boy aboard Oasis of the Seas (a Royal Caribbean ship) – there is no maritime law that currently requires cruise lines to employ lifeguards, nor does there appear to be a concern by the cruise lines themselves to position lifeguards on ships (whether mandatory or not) so as to improve passenger safety.

This leaves passengers with an unfortunate reality – they must fend for themselves.

Aside from the risk of drowning in a cruise ship pool, there are several other dangers that can face individuals on a cruise vacation. Continue reading

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Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line, lifeguards, cruise ship acident lawyerOur cruise accident lawyers here at LMAW have come to learn of a tragic accident involving a Disney Cruise Line passenger. According to news reports, the victim, a Disney Wonder passenger, died on February 26 after suffering a drowning accident in Castaway Cay, a private island owned by Disney. The passenger, who was on a 5-night cruise to the Bahamas, is reported to have been a 38-year-old man from New York. He allegedly drowned around 4 p.m. while swimming in the waters off the Cay.

A spokesperson for Disney claims crew members and medical personnel responded to the emergency right away. But at this point, we don’t really have much information to go on as to what could have possibly contributed to the drowning. Bahamian authorities are investigating the incident and explained an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of the accident.

Several factors could be at play here. The man could have been pulled under by a rip tide or he could have even suffered a medical condition while in the water. We will have to wait to see what the investigation reveals, but one thing that has been brought to our attention is the claim that there were no lifeguards on the beach where the accident occurred.

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MS Marco Polo, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, cruise passenger death, cruise accident, rogue wave, safety, cruise injury lawyersYesterday, the cruise injury lawyers at our firm reported on the anniversary of the tragic death of an elderly MS Marco Polo cruise passenger. The victim, 85-year-old James Swinstead, was killed after a huge rogue wave hit the side of the vessel, causing two windows in the ship’s restaurant to shatter. Swinstead was sitting with his wife next to the windows when they shattered, and the impact caused him to suffer a fractured skull and brain damage. He died instantly.

Though the death was ruled an accident, an investigation into the matter revealed that there had been cracks in the window frames. Given that cruise lines are required to abide by the highest possible safety standards, how could this alarming safety hazard have been overlooked? Moreover, if the windows shattered as a result of the cracks, why wasn’t Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV), the Marco Polo’s operators, held responsible?

Unfortunately, we can’t say with certainty that the window shattering was directly related to the dislodged frames, but there’s a pretty big chance it was. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it wasn’t just a random coincidence that the windows broke and the failure of the cruise line to maintain the safety of its vessel resulted in the passenger’s death. What could possibly allow the cruise line to get away with it?

Well, several factors, actually.

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rogue wave, cruise ship accidentOur cruise attorneys here at LMAW have often talked about unexpected disasters that can strike at sea. Despite the fact that many maritime accidents are the result of poor judgment or reckless behavior, including speeding, operator inexperience, or alcohol consumption, some incidents are caused by Mother Nature. One of those is a rogue wave.

A rogue wave is the name given to a wave that is out of proportion to the other waves around it, a huge wave (usually over twice the size of surrounding waves) that comes out of nowhere.  These waves are unexpected and can show up anywhere, anytime. Though rogue waves have been known to cause serious hazards to unsuspecting boaters, there are times when they are used as a defense by cruise lines in order to avoid liability for an injury resulting from them interacting with a ship. Though rogue waves can’t be predicted, there are certain waters where rogue waves tend to strike, or where waves are abnormally larger than others. Cruise lines know to avoid these areas, but from time to time, they don’t, leading to accidents and passenger injuries that are at times fatal.

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