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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The surviving victims of a recent boat accident in Capetown, South Africa and the loved ones of those who perished should look into consulting with a boat crash lawyer following a weekend tragedy at sea. The lives of two people were lost when a whale watching charter boat that was carrying over 30 people capsized near Hout Bay on Saturday afternoon.

The charter boat named the “Miroshga” was at Duiker Island when it capsized at around 3 p.m. Saturday. According to National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon, two people have been confirmed dead. Search and rescue teams are still searching for several other passengers who have yet to be accounted for. NSRI members, as well as several other charter boats that were in the area, were able to rescue many of the tourists who had fallen into the sea when the maritime accident occurred.

Peter Hyett, 64, believed to be originally from Bournemouth, Dorset, was one of the passengers who was killed in the boat accident. His wife, Suzanne, 63, and her daughter Helen, 37, were also on the boat when the accident occurred. The body of John Roberts, a tour guide, was reported to have been found after the tragic maritime accident as well.

Three other passengers were rescued after being trapped for several hours. Lynette Hartman, of Cardiff, survived after being trapped for three hours in an air pocket. Two other British citizens were also rescued after being trapped in the vessel’s hull for nearly four hours. Four others are still reported to be missing.

Authorities have yet to determine what caused the boat to capsize in Duiker Island, which lies about two miles from Hout Bay on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape. The public has been asked to stay clear of the area while investigators continue to look for evidence and while rescue teams search for the missing passengers. If the boat is determined to have capsized because of the boat operator’s negligence, those onboard and their surviving loved ones may be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering.

A boat operator is responsible for maintaining the safety of all who are onboard. When passenger safety is compromised, boat operators may be held liable for any injuries or fatalities that result from boating accidents. If you or someone you know has been hurt or lost their life in a boat crash, turn to our boating accident lawyers immediately for assistance.

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Months after the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of the Italian Island Giglio, the ship’s captain will be attending pre-trial hearings this week, where evidence regarding the events that led to the cruise ship accident will be presented in order to determine if he was at fault.

The tragic cruise ship accident, which took place on Jan. 13, led to the deaths of at least 30 people and countless injuries. The vessel capsized after hitting a rock off the coast and has still to be removed from the accident scene, where it remains half-submerged on the ocean floor. The bodies of two passengers have yet to be recovered.

Italian authorities say there will be at least three days of hearings, which will consider evidence before a full trial that is to be held later this week in the city of Grosseto. The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is facing multiple charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship. Eight other crewmembers, as well as the ship’s owner, are also under investigation for their roles in the maritime accident.

According to surviving passengers, the evacuation process was a nightmare. They say crewmembers were not communicating with each other efficiently and the entire process was chaotic. The passengers also allege the crew did not appear to be fully trained on emergency procedures.

Since Schettino did not attend the first hearing that was held in March, the court delayed the subsequent hearings by seven months to give experts more time to collect and review evidence. Schettino has already publicly stated he will attend this week’s hearings, saying “It’s my right to participate.”

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Crimes on the high seas are extremely common, but unfortunately, only a fraction of incidents are reported. While some are undocumented, others are covered up by the cruise lines themselves for fear of having to accept responsibility for the incidents and the costs associated with them. Cruise ship operators are responsible for keeping passengers and crewmembers safe from harm, including keeping free of crime and making sure the vessels are as safe as possible to avoid cruise ship accidents. However, crimes and accidents continue to happen regularly.

Recently, three men from New York City were arrested and jailed for a crime onboard a cruise to the U.S. Virgin Islands that involved stiffing the cruise line nearly $60,000. The suspects, Sam Gross, Joseph Herskovitz and Jacob Eisenberger pleaded guilty in June to racking up thousands of dollars onboard a Carnival Cruise Line vessel using courtesy charge cards and then abandoned the ship without paying. They were later arrested by the FBI and briefly jailed. After sentencing, the suspects were ordered to pay restitution ranging from $1,860 to $32,283. Their jail terms range from 15 days to three months. Another man was also charged in the cruise fraud scam and is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

While this crime did not directly harm the physical well-being of other passengers, many cruise ship crimes involve aggressive behavior or even violence. Passengers themselves are often the victims of theft, along with aggravated assault, manslaughter, and the number one cruise crime, sexual assault. When a crime onboard a cruise line occurs, it is imperative that victims report the incidents immediately to cruise personnel. However, this doesn’t always guarantee that something will be done about the situation. Many crimes do not get taken care of by the cruise authorities, who often fail to notify the FBI or Coast Guard within a reasonable amount of time. If the incident isn’t reported immediately, it will rarely be taken care of. Waiting too much time to investigate a crime on the high seas can not only lead evidence to be corrupted, but assailants will have plenty of time to make a getaway.

Aside from crimes on the high seas, many passengers are also victims of cruise ship accidents. These incidents often result from negligence or wrongdoing by the vessel’s operators and crewmembers, including incidents that involve slip and falls, assault, sexual harassment, injuries from failing to navigate the ship along safe routes, and several others. When a cruise line does not provide a safe environment for those onboard, they may be held liable for accidents and injuries that ensue. Luckily, victims and their loved ones can seek immediate help with our firm. Our cruise ship injury lawyers have been representing cruise accident victims since 1971 and fight to protect your rights.

Not only do we handle cruise ship injury cases ashore, but with our new, innovative “Cruise Ship Lawyer” app for iPhone and Android Smart phones, passengers can now fully document incidents as soon as they occur onboard so no evidence is ever lost and no detail ever goes unrecorded. Our attorneys care about your needs and will help you obtain justice for your pain and suffering. Call Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. today to discuss your options and get started on your case.

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A little girl is recovering following a freak boating accident in Australia that caused her to be thrown from her family’s vessel over the weekend. Lilly Butcher is only five years old but already has experienced trauma in her life. Lilly had been onboard her family’s 4.3m tinny with her parents, Mel and Mick, and her brother, Leeroy, when the boat accident took place Sunday morning.

The family left Shute Harbour and was on their way to Hamilton Island when roughly an hour and a half into their journey, the boat suddenly flipped on its side. Lilly and her parents were thrown into the water while Leeroy, only three years old, was left alone on the vessel. According to Mel Butcher, they were not speeding when the accident occurred, and in fact, were traveling slowly. She explains the horror she went through as she saw her family fall into the water.

“I thought the boat was going to flip over,” she explained. “I saw Mick go over the side. I grabbed Lilly and then we went over too.”

Then, the unthinkable happened. The boat began to circle out of control and struck all three family members who were still in the water.

“I pushed Lilly as hard as I could away from the boat,” said Mrs. Butcher. “It was out of control and just doing donuts.”

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It’s already been a month since the indictment of a 31-year-old man who was accused of raping a young girl onboard a cruise ship in August, but her other assailants are still free. The victim was only 15-years-old, trying to have fun on a family vacation, but her excitement was cut short as the indicted man and several teenage boys were accused of gang raping her. The elder cruise rape assailant, Casey Dickerson, was arrested and charged with two counts of forcing sex on a minor. He was arrested on August 20 and has been held in Orange County since.

The cruise ship rape incident took place onboard the Carnival Cruise Line ship, Carnival Sensation. Dickerson and his wife had been on the ship, which left from Port Canaveral in Orlando, Florida, on August 16. The couple complained to cruise authorities that there was too much noise in their stateroom and were given an alternate cabin. However, they were able to keep both cabins.

According to the cruise rape victim, whose name has been withheld because she is a minor, she and a friend had gone to Dickerson’s cabin, along with four other boys. The girl claims that Dickerson and the boys held her down and took turns having sex with her against her will. When questioned, Dickerson claims he was intoxicated and didn’t have any recollection of the incident. He vehemently denied having sexual contact with the girl. The boys, however, have come forward and admitted to having forcible sex with her but have yet to be formally charged. Permission from the Attorney General must first be obtained before charges against juveniles can be filed in federal court.

The FBI was investigating the cruise ship crime, but all those involved in the rape incident have yet to be brought to justice. This isn’t the first – nor will it likely be the last – cruise ship rape incident that is not dealt with swiftly. In his book, “Unsafe on the High Seas,” maritime lawyer Charles Lipcon explains that sexual crimes, including rape, unwanted touching and other sexual harassment incidents, are the number one crimes that recur onboard cruise ships. But unfortunately, not much has been done to change this sad statistic. Although cruise ship operators are inherently responsible for the safety of their passengers and crew, sexual crimes, like the rape of this young girl, continue to happen. Offenders can be other passengers, as with this particular incident, but can also be crewmembers. Regardless of who the assailant is, any sexual crime that takes place onboard a vessel is unacceptable and against the law.

While nothing can possibly correct the trauma and anguish a rape or sexual assault victim suffers, it is important for victims and their loved ones to know that they have a right to seek legal help for what transpired. If you or someone you know has been hurt by a sexual offender on the high seas, turn to one of our attorneys for assistance immediately in filing a case and protecting your rights.

Having a cruise ship rape lawyer on your side will not only increase the chances that the perpetrators be held liable for their crimes, but that cruise ship operators who failed to maintain your safety also be held accountable for their disregard of passenger well-being. Our attorneys have been representing victims of cruise ship crimes and accidents since 1971. With passion and integrity, we will work diligently to help you obtain the damages you deserve for your pain and suffering as well. Call Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. today to schedule a consultation and get started on your case.

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A Sea Ray cabin cruiser was seized by the Maine Marine Patrol following a criminal investigation into a boat crash off Littlejohn Island on Sept. 21 that left one man dead. Authorities made the seizure following witness statements that said the 39-foot cruiser appeared to speed up and change course before it collided with an aluminum skiff that was being operated by the victim.

Lisa Wilson, who witnessed the boating accident from Littlejohn Island, said, “It almost appeared that the Sea Ray was trying to overtake the skiff and the trawler,” in reference to a Coast Guard Auxiliary boat that was in the area and offered assistance following the crash. The Marine Patrol filed a search warrant in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court indicating the seizure of the cabin cruiser and its contents to be used as evidence of the maritime crime.

The vessel, a Sea Ray Sundancer 390 named The Best, is owned by Richard Lemieux of Scarborough and Foxborough Massachusetts, who was manning the helm when the collision took place. The boat crash killed Charles “Bill” Whetham, who was on his way home from Chebeague Island to Cousins Island after a day of work. Lemieux was piloting his boat west through the narrow channel between Littlejohn Island when he crashed into the aluminum skiff just after 5 p.m., causing Whetham to get thrown into the water. Although he was pulled to safety by members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, he was not breathing properly and was transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland once ashore, where he was pronounced dead roughly 50 minutes after the maritime accident.

The search warrant was approved by a Superior Court justice on Sept. 25, four days after the crash. Although the vessel and its contents were seized, authorities have yet to press charges.

“We’re really not at a point where we’re going to make any kind of allegations,” said Marine Patrol Lt. Jonathan Cornish. “We thought we needed the boat to do a proper investigation. That’s why we took the boat, to look into the causes of the accident.”

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The effects of the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident are still being felt across the world. The accident involving the Costa Cruise Line fleet vessel, which took place on January 13, left 32 people dead after the ship hit a rock off the coast of Italy and capsized. The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, was accused of causing the tragic accident and was charged with several counts of manslaughter and abandoning ship and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 15. Following the tragedy, he was fired from his position, but in a new turn of events, Schettino has decided to point fingers at Costa and is now suing the cruise line to get his job back.

As if being accused of abandoning his ship before all the passengers and crew were safe wasn’t bad enough, Schettino believes he is entitled to get his job back. The former captain claims his actions actually contributed to lives being saved and is suing the cruise line company for wrongful termination.

According to Schettino’s lawyer, Bruno Leporatti told Reuters, “It is the right of every worker to appeal against his dismissal and Captain Schettino has done no more than exercise that right. There is nothing to contest or be amazed about, unless we want to say that what the law allows for all citizens doesn’t apply for Francesco Schettino.”

While crewmembers have a right to contest a wrongful termination, Schettino has to appear in court for the manslaughter accusations before he can even have a valid case brought forward that will show reason for him to be re-hired. Schettino is currently under house arrest in his home of Meta di Sorrento, Italy awaiting a hearing on the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident. Five other crewmembers are also under investigation for their role in the incident but a court date has yet to be determined.

Several surviving passengers that were aboard the Costa Concordia when it capsized came forward, recounting the events of that day and accusing many of the ship’s crewmembers of not knowing how to properly handle a tragedy at sea. They claim several crew were scattered around and did not know how to communicate with each other. Surviving passengers remember the accident scene as being extremely chaotic. Experts also blame crewmembers for their lack of training regarding emergency drills and failure to communicate. In addition, the ship’s owner, Costa Crociere, has also been accused of failing to alert coastal authorities of the emergency immediately following the cruise ship accident.

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When a boat accident occurs, it is usually the result of someone’s negligence or wrongdoing. Boating companies are required use reasonable or ordinary care the safety of those who use their vessels and equipment as well as make sure anyone operating a vessel abides by maritime law. When they do not, the companies may be held responsible for any accidents or injuries that ensue, which is what happened to a Whanagaparoa boating business recently.

The boating company was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 in damages after one of its workers was seriously injured in a fall. The Brin Wilson Boats Limited worker fell nearly ten feet from a boat that was dry docked in February while he was reattaching handrails. The worker fell when attempting to reach for a handrail that had been removed for cleaning the previous day and sustained injuries to his face and head as well as suffered a broken left wrist. After hearing about the incident, the North Shore District Court and the Auckland, New Zealand boating company was found responsible for the worker’s personal injury accident.

“The hazards of falls from height are well recognised and documented and there are many publications and guidance on how to avoid falls from height – both general guidance and specific to the boat-building industry,” said John Howard, Northern health and safety manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. “Preventing falls from height is a priority for MBIE. No matter what height people are working at, there is risk involved and MBIE expects everyone with staff or contractors to actively manage this significant hazard.”

Although this personal injury accident occurred in New Zealand, workers and crewmembers sustain serious injuries while working onboard boats and cruise ships in the United States as well. Whether the incident occurs in the U.S. or in national waters, workers and crewmembers who are hurt because the vessel’s operators failed to provide a safe environment may be entitled to seek compensation for any injuries and loved ones of those who are fatally wounded may also file a claim for damages. If you or someone you know was involved in a crewman accident, contact one of our maritime lawyers for assistance in filing a crewmember claim immediately.

Our admiralty attorneys have over 80 years of combined experience representing those injured or killed due to the negligence of a cruise line operator or boating company and will see to it your rights are protected. Crewmembers can file a seaman or seafarer claim if they are injured or become ill while working in the service of the vessel. As a crewmember, you have a right to medical care, lost wages, food and shelter and several other benefits and if your employer does not uphold those rights, you can file a claim. Call us today to get started on your case immediately.

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When a cruise accident is recounted by the actual cruise ship operators, a lot of details tend to go missing. The severity of the incident is often undermined, but the truth of what really happened can be uncovered through passenger recounts. On Oct. 4, a Celebrity cruise ship tender ran aground near Bar Island and the ship’s officials maintained that no one was injured. However, one passenger tells a different tale of what really happened that evening.

Rex Garrett was heading back to the Celebrity Summit on the tender when it ran aground between Bar and Porcupine islands just before 8 p.m. local time. Garrett remembers that the point of impact was so severe that it nearly threw all 100 people who were onboard from their seats. He added that in the time immediately following the boat accident, passengers were left to fend for themselves while shocked and confused and crewmembers provided no help throughout the entire process, seemingly unaware of how to act in the event of an emergency.

“Myself and a couple of other passengers started handing out life jackets while other guests assisted folks that could not get their life jackets on,” said Garrett via email Monday. “The crew provided no assistance to the passengers or instructions on safety procedures.”

A total of 93 passengers and two crewmembers from the Summit were onboard the tender when it crashed into some rocks near the islands. Coast Guard officials are blaming rainy weather conditions and low tide for the boat crash but assert everyone on the tender was evacuated within 20 minutes of the incident with the assistance of a local whale watch boat and pilot vessel. The F/V Frenchman Bay was on pilot duty in anchorage B when the incident took place. They responded to the scene of the accident and Captain David Spear and crewmember Elana Strout managed to maneuver the boat along the stern of the tender and transferred between 35 to 40 passengers onto their vessel to take back to the Summit. Captain Matt Ketchen of Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company’s Bay King III also assisted with the evacuation, taking the remaining passengers back to the cruise ship.
Authorities added that while neither crewmembers nor passengers were hurt, the tender itself sustained some damage. According to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Tiffany Hayes, search and rescue coordinator at the Sector Northern New England Command Center in South Portland, the tender sustained “notable damage to both sides of the hull and breaches below the water line.” She added that it was very fortunate that no one was injured in the boating accident.

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Parasailing is an exciting experience for many, especially for beachgoers in South Florida. Both vacationers and resident beachgoers tend to opt for the thrill-seeking water activities that are offered throughout the state, but not very many of them stop to wonder how safe they will actually be while soaring through the air, tethered to a boat.

Each year, several parasailing accidents take place, and many go unaccounted for. According to the Parasail Safety Council, which tracks parasailing injuries and deaths nationwide, over 70 people have been killed in parasailing accidents and at least 1,600 have sustained injuries between 1982 and 2012. During that 30-year span, an estimated 150 million people went on parasail rides, placing themselves at risk for serious – if not fatal – injuries. The casualty rate is roughly one per 90,000 rides, but despite the evidence showing the dangers of parasailing activities, there are no state or federal regulations governing parasailing.

Florida, which is home to the largest number of parasail operators (roughly 120), does not have any inherent parasailing safety regulations in place. Despite efforts by activists or surviving victims who have been involved in parasailing accidents, the state has failed to enact laws that will govern parasailing operations. Shannon Kraus, the mother of two girls who were involved in a parasailing accident in 2007, is one of many who are both frustrated and appalled at the lack of regulatory action taken against parasailing operators. Kraus’ two girls were injured when their parasailing line broke during a storm and caused the girls to crash into a hotel in Pompano Beach. One of her daughters, 15-year-old Amber May White, died of her injuries, while her other daughter Crystal, then 16 years old, sustained severe head injuries.

“Nobody has listened to me from day No. 1,” said Kraus. “I’ve just been shoved aside. I’ve kind of been ignored and I’m pretty angry about that.”

Crystal White, who is now a mother herself, explains that no one really knows what dangers they are getting into when they sign up for a parasailing adventure.

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