Articles Posted in Cruise Injury and Maritime Law

new-zealand-3018634_640-300x196

‘No signs of life’ on New Zealand’s White Island following deadly volcanic eruption

A volcano erupted Monday on a small New Zealand island frequented by tourists, leaving at least five people dead and others injured, some of whom were members of a tour group from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship “Ovation of the Seas.” 

The eruption sent a large plume of steam and ash into the sky around 2 p.m. local time on White Island. 

Police said they believed there were fewer than 50 people present at the time of the eruption on the volcanic island, but at least five were confirmed killed.

There are a number of people on the island who are unaccounted for, however. Both New Zealanders and overseas tourists are believed to be involved. 

At least 10 people were said to be unaccounted for, and police said in a later statement that after conducting overflights, that they do not believe there are any survivors on the island.

According to reports, police are “working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already.”

At least some of those injured and missing were members of a tour group from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship “Ovation of the Seas,” the police confirmed. The number of cruise passengers affected and their nationalities were not clear, but the Florida-based cruise line confirmed in a statement to CBS News that “a number of our guests were touring the island.” 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 24 of the cruise passengers who were visiting the island were from his country.

Royal Caribbean said its ship Ovation of the Seas would remain docked “as long as needed to assist with the situation.” 

St. John medical responders said in a statement they believed there were 20 people on the island who were injured and in need of medical treatment. It said it had dispatched seven helicopters to the island with paramedics aboard.

White Island, also known by its indigenous Maori name, Whakaari, sits about 30 miles offshore of mainland New Zealand, northeast of the town of Tauranga on North Island, one of New Zealand’s two main islands. Police were asking people to avoid areas on the North Island that were close to the eruption, including the Whakatane Heads and Muriwai Drive areas.

The island became a private scenic reserve in 1953, and daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit the volcano every year. 

A volcanologist with GNS Science said the eruption was significant and sent a plume of steam and ash about 12,000 feet into the air. He said it had affected the whole of the White Island crater floor.

The GeoNet agency at first raised its alert level to four, on a scale where five represents a major eruption. It later dropped the alert level back down to three because the eruption wasn’t sustained beyond the initial blast. 

There will be questions asked as to why tourists were still able to visit the island after scientists recently noted an uptick in volcanic activity. GeoNet monitoring cameras captured images of tourists walking around the crater of the volcano moments before the eruption on Friday, but the organization later said it had removed the video clips from its website, at least while rescue efforts remained underway.

GeoNet raised the alert level on White Island from one to two on Nov. 18, noting an increase in the amount of sulfur dioxide gas, which originates from magma deep in the volcano. It also said at the time that over the previous weeks, the volcanic tremor had increased from weak to moderate strength.

Cruise ship excursions can be one of the most fun and enjoyable aspects of partaking in a cruise experience. Most people that take cruises are looking for an adventurous way to explore different parts of the world, and exploring different attractions off the boat are the best opportunity for passengers to do so. However, as this tragedy shows, some aspects of cruise ship excursions can result in serious injuries and deaths to passengers.

Cruise ship excursion injuries can be quite serious. If you have been the victim of an injury, or have lost a loved one during a cruise ship excursion, our Florida Cruise Ship Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can investigate your case and hold cruise lines accountable for passenger injuries and deaths when applicable.

Continue reading

A Jacksonville man convicted of aggravated sexual abuse on an 18-year-old woman while aboard a cruise ship was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison.

The 23-year-old was convicted in March after 90 minutes of deliberation. He did not testify.

During the cruise aboard the Carnival Elation, the man was in a hot tub with a number of people, including a young woman with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. He touched the woman over her bathing suit and groped her under the water.

The victim left the Jacuzzi and immediately reported what happened to her grandmother, who reported it to ship security.

When the man is released from prison, he will be a registered sex offender.

The sad truth is that sexual assault is the number one crime aboard cruise ships. They are also the most underreported to the public, so when cruisers book their vacation at sea, being sexually assaulted or raped rarely crosses their mind. This only makes innocent vacationers more vulnerable to perpetrators who commit these crimes on the high seas.

Continue reading

A Jacksonville man was convicted Wednesday of aggravated sexual abuse by force on an 18-year-old woman aboard the Carnival cruise ship Elation.

The 23-year-old was convicted after 90 minutes of deliberation.

According to the original criminal complaint, the man was in a hot tub with a number of people, including a young woman with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, when he touched the woman over her bathing suit before she pushed his hand away. The man then groped her under the water before getting out of the Jacuzzi.

The woman left the Jacuzzi and immediately reported what happened to her grandmother, who reported it to ship security.

The ship was at sea at the time, and the FBI was notified of the report. FBI agents and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office were present when the ship returned to port in Jacksonville

The man will remain in custody of the U.S. Marshals until his sentencing October 22. He faces up to life in prison.

When you are on a cruise, you should not have to worry about being sexually assaulted by another passenger or a member of the crew. Sadly, rapes and other types of sexual abuse happen all too often on cruise ships.

The cruise line could be held liable for your suffering, including psychological and emotional injuries. They could also be liable if they handled the aftermath of the assault negligently. This can entail not providing adequate medical care to the victim, not restraining the assailant, etc.

In order to protect your rights after being sexually assaulted on a cruise ship, it is important that you seek legal advice from our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible after the incident in which you were injured. We are experienced in dealing with cruise line negligence and can assist with your case right away. You want to act fast as there are statutes of limitations set forth on cruise ship injury claims, which could prevent you from seeking compensation past a certain date.

Continue reading

A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging a 23-year-old Jacksonville man with aggravated sexual abuse by force. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment in federal prison, and a potential lifetime of supervision.

According to the indictment and court records, the man is charged with sexually abusing a passenger on February 27, 2018, while aboard a Carnival cruise ship based out of Jacksonville.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If you have been sexually assaulted or raped on a cruise ship, our Florida Cruise Negligence Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will fight for you to recover maximum damages, holding the cruise line responsible for not taking the adequate measures to protect you from harm.

We can pursue sexual assault and rape cases as a civil matter. The cruise ship has a responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment to all passengers aboard the cruise liner. This includes having appropriate security and hiring crew members who are trustworthy and thoroughly reviewed for any previous criminal history.

Continue reading

A passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship was in stable condition Wednesday after being rescued out of the water near the Bahamas, the cruise line said.

The passenger was reported overboard Tuesday night from the Norwegian Epic, which returned to its home port of Port Canaveral at about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, an hour late.

The ship then slowed to a stop and maneuvered to allow the crew to search for the missing passenger.

As lifeboats searched for her, about eight to 10 passengers yelled out from their balconies to the woman to not give up and to keep calling out for help.

After she was rescued, she was taken to the ship’s medical facility, Norwegian Cruise Line said, and taken for additional medical attention on land once the ship arrived at Port Canaveral.

Falls from cruise ships can and do happen. They can occur many different ways including:

  • Inadequate or defective handrails
  • Intoxication from being over served alcohol in the ship’s bars and lounges
  • Failing to warn of rough seas
  • Violent actions of the ship’s crew members or other passengers

The cruise ship can be held liable for falls overboard that cause injury or distress to passengers. Our Florida Cruise Negligence Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to helping victims obtain compensation from cruise lines who do not provide a safe environment for passengers. Most lawsuits relating to cruise ships departing from Florida must be filed in Florida, however, specific information about where you can file the lawsuit and the statute of limitations that applies can be found on the back of your cruise ship ticket. We can help you with your claim throughout the state of Florida.

Continue reading

A Boynton Beach, Florida man has filed a wrongful death suit against a cruise line after his wife died in a hospital in France.

The man filed a complaint on May 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Princess Cruise Lines LTD alleging wrongful death and negligence.

According to the complaint, the man claims that on April 2016, his wife fell in her cabin on the ship and was seen by the ship’s doctor. The suit states the woman also had a fever and the ship’s doctor ordered the pair off of the ship for treatment at a hospital in France. The suit states the woman died five weeks later while still in France.

The man holds Princess Cruise Lines LTD responsible because the they allegedly negligently forced them to disembark the vessel and failed to hire qualified ship’s doctors and nurses.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks compensatory damages of more than $75,000, all damages, interest, all legal fees and any other relief as the court deems just.

Sadly, people can fall ill or die while on vacation. Passengers can suffer terrible tragedies while onboard an ocean cruise. Typically, cruise lines specify a limited time and a particular place for you to file a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. Regardless of where you took your cruise, certain cruise lines require you to file suit in a specific location. Our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how to further research your cruise contract in order to determine when and where you can file a claim for damages.

Continue reading

A cruise ship passenger alleges he was injured after he slipped and fell near the food court on the ship.

The man filed a suit on Feb. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Celebrity Cruises Inc. alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that on Nov. 9, 2015, while aboard the cruise ship, he slipped and fell while walking on a slippery area near the food court. As a result, he alleges he suffered pain, loss of earnings and incurred medical expenses.

The man holds Celebrity Cruises Inc. responsible because they failed to conduct routine inspections of the area, failed to warn passengers of wet or contaminated floor surface and failed to establish, implement and enforce policies and procedures regarding the proper maintenance of the area.

Cruise lines are responsible for warning passengers of known dangers, however they are not required to warn of open and obvious dangers. Open and obvious dangers are those that should be obvious to a passenger using common sense. When slapped with a slip and fall claim, cruise lines will often use this defense to claim the cruise ship had no duty to warn its passengers of the obvious danger.  The success of this defense depends on the unique circumstances of the case and the injuries involved.

Our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know that slip, trip and falls suffered aboard a cruise ship can leave you in great pain and unable to go back to work to earn a living. These cases can be complex, which is why you need knowledgeable representation to go up against the cruise ship industry.

Continue reading

A Kentucky woman claims a slippery deck near a hot tub on a Miami-based cruise ship caused her to fall.

The woman filed a complaint on Feb. 13 against Carnival Corp., doing business as Carnival Cruise Lines Inc., alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the woman claims that on Feb. 26, 2016, she suffered serious physical injuries when she slipped and fell while exiting the Jacuzzi onboard the Carnival Fascination. She holds Carnival Cruise Lines Inc. responsible because they failed to warn the her regarding the slippery surface while exiting the Jacuzzi.

If you were injured in a cruise ship accident, you are not alone. Countless cruise ship passengers are injured every year, usually do to the negligence of a cruise line or its employees. Sadly, most of these injuries are 100 percent preventable. Slip, trip and fall accidents make up the majority of these incidents, resulting in a plethora of injuries including head injuries, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries. In most cruise ship slip, trip and fall cases, financial compensation can be sought by filing a personal injury claim.

While there are numerous ways a slip, trip and fall accident can occur, negligence is usually a contributing factor. The key to gaining a successful outcome for your claim, is proving negligence and showing that the negligence caused injuries to the victim.

Continue reading

A Carnival passenger alleges he was injured because he slipped on a deck that was wet with rain.

The man filed a complaint on Jan. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Carnival Corp. alleging negligence.

According to the lawsuit, the man alleges that he sustained physical injuries when he accidentally slipped and fell due to a deck wet because of rain. The man holds Carnival Corp. responsible because they failed to warn the man of the hazardous condition of the lido deck.

All areas on a cruise ship that see a high volume of foot traffic must be must be free of dangers, and that includes any wet or slick surfaces that could result in slip, trip or fall injuries. Cruise line companies could be responsible for slip, trip and fall accidents that occur because of hazards employees create. Dangerous or hazardous conditions include slick or slippery surfaces and a failure to warn passengers of the wet area or failing to undertake reasonable safety precautions.

If a cruise line creates a dangerous condition or does not work to remedy the situation in a reasonable amount of time, they could be liable for all injuries they have caused. This negligence on the cruise ship’s part could mean you are entitled to recover financial compensation for your injuries.

Continue reading

More than 500 passengers and crew were evacuated on Wednesday from a burning ship about a mile off Puerto Rico’s north coast.

The fire occurred aboard the Caribbean Fantasy, a combination cruise and ferry vessel, as the U.S. Coast Guard began bringing passengers into the San Juan harbor.

The Coast Guard said all passengers had been evacuated, though it was still rescuing 26 crew members.

The ship was arriving in San Juan when the fire broke out, according to a Coast Guard spokesman.

Reports indicate that a hose carrying fuel burst open and caught on fire in the control room.

The crew attempted to extinguish the fire for 2 hours.

The extent of injuries are not clear at this time.

Several dozen people were treated for dehydration, high blood pressure and respiratory problems from the smoke, said a fire department spokesman. One stretcher held a man hooked up to an IV who was cradling a bawling newborn baby clad only in a diaper.

The mostly Dominican passengers included dozens of school-age athletes headed to competitions in Puerto Rico, including a 22-member cycling team, a girls’ volleyball team and a boys’ baseball team.

Passengers found to be in good health were loaded onto city buses to be taken out of the area.

The ships run several times weekly between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

While it may seem like a fire would be easy to put out when you are surrounded by water, a fire is a one of the most serious risks onboard a cruise ship. Since cruise ships are enclosed with long hallways and similar small rooms, combine that with a high volume of people and that makes cruise ships one of the worst places for a fire emergency. Cruise ship fires can be particularly devastating, due to the fact that there are not many escape routes.

Continue reading

Contact Information