Articles Posted in Maritime Accident

The first South Florida death related to lobster miniseason involved a 79-year-old man who was being towed behind a boat.

The man was snorkeling Wednesday at Bahia Honda State Park in search of lobster when he had “difficulty in the water and did not survive,’’ said a public information coordinator for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s South Region.

The man was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon, where he was pronounced dead.

The two-day lobster miniseason ended at midnight Thursday.

Last year, a 60-year-man from Little Torch Key died while diving for lobster on the Gulf side of Cudjoe Key.

Also on Wednesday, a 16-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in the afternoon after one of her fingers was severed while climbing off a boat.

On a similar note, the first arrest of the miniseason in the Florida Keys occurred around 2:30 a.m. when a 78-year-old Marathon man was charged with possession of one undersized lobster and of “over-the-limit” lobsters, with 33.

With more than 10,000 miles of rivers, streams, lakes and ocean coastline, Florida’s abundance of water make it an ideal spot for water and boating activities. While water and boating activities can be fun hobbies, the truth is that they can also be dangerous. On average, there are over 1,000 reported boating accidents every year in Florida with many causing serious injuries and wrongful death.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or FWC has jurisdiction over most of the boating accidents in Florida and are usually the ones who investigate the majority of boating accidents. According to their reports, an increase in the number of boating accidents is usually seen on holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, Columbus Day, New Year’s Eve and during lobster miniseason when more boats are on the water.

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A cruise should be a fun and safe time. And while most cruises remain fun and injury free, there are ways to be hurt while on a cruise.

The following are the most common cruise ship accidents:

  • Slip and falls or trip and falls: Cruise ship staff are required to maintain a safe ship. This means if there are any wet or slick surfaces, adequate warning signs should be displayed. Stairs and landings should be properly maintained so that there is nothing broken, sharp or uneven so falls do not occur.
  • Drowning: Most cruise ships have several pools on board, as well as water slides and other cool additions. These must be monitored at all times by the cruise line’s staff so that drowning accidents are prevented. With that said, staff must properly secure the pool areas at night when no lifeguards are available.
  • Fires: Fires on cruise ships can lead to various issues for passengers, including the very serious threat of burn injuries, having to evacuate the ship, and a loss of power which can lead to a loss of sewer and food storage capabilities.
  • Collisions With Other Ships/Objects: When a cruise ship crashes into another ship, object, or even a piece of land, everyone onboard could be harmed.
  • Food Poisoning And Other Illnesses: Cruise ships house thousands of people, and because people are within a confined space, stomach viruses can be spread quite easily among guests. On a similar note, if food is not prepared or stored properly, everyone onboard can become seriously ill in a short amount of time.
  • Defective Equipment: If the cruise ship has any faulty equipment, your risk for suffering an injury is dramatically increased. This includes dangerous defects in the on-ship bowling alley, rock climbing walls, water rides, golf courses, and other fun additions.
  • Excursion Injuries: Just be aware that just because cruise ships contract other companies to provide activities off the boat, like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, zip-lining, and spelunking, this does not mean that these companies follow the necessary safety protocols you expect.

Filing an injury claim against the cruise line can be complex. It is important to understand that attorneys and insurance companies that represent cruise ship lines will do whatever they can to limit paying a claim and having their brand tarnished. There are specific time frames and other laws that govern cruise ship injuries that must be followed when filing an injury claim.

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The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report Thursday on the investigation into the El Faro tragedy.

According to their findings, the U.S. Coast Guard received distress alerts from the 737 foot cargo ship on October 1 around 7:15 a.m.

The ship was 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, and close to the eye of Hurricane Joaquin.

The ship was en route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico with a cargo of containers and vehicles.

According to the NTSB report, just a few minutes before the distress alerts, the El Faro master called TOTE Maritime’s designated person ashore and reported the ship was experiencing some flooding. He said the crew had controlled the flooding but the ship was listing at 15 degrees and lost propulsion.

The Coast Guard and TOTE were unable to reestablish communication with the ship. Of the 33 crew members on the Jacksonville-based ship, 28 were U.S. citizens and five were from Poland.

The Coast Guard deployed helicopters and search vessels to the ship’s last known position, but the search was halted due to hurricane force conditions.

The report stated that on Sunday, October 4, a damaged lifeboat, two damaged liferafts, and a deceased crewmember wearing an immersion suit were found. The next day, a debris field and oil slick were found, and the Coast Guard determined the El Faro was lost and declared the event a major marine casualty.

The Coast Guard suspended the unsuccessful search for survivors at sundown on Wednesday, October 7.

On Tuesday, October 6, the National Transportation Safety Board launched a full team to Jacksonville to lead the federal investigation in cooperation with the Coast Guard, the American Bureau of Shipping, and TOTE as parties.

The U.S. Navy Salvage and Diving division of the Naval Seas Systems Command was contracted to locate the sunken ship, assist in the sea floor documentation of the wreckage, and recover the voyage data recorder, according to reports.

Working on board cargo ships like the El Faro can be extremely dangerous. While out to sea, crew members put their lives on the line to ensure that the goods necessary for our daily lives arrive to where they need to be on time. They face dangerous weather conditions and the constant risk of being thrown overboard.

At Whittel & Melton, our Maritime Accident Lawyers are experienced and trained to represent injured seamen and their families, as well as the families of those who have lost loved ones on cargo vessels, like the El Faro. We will represent victims nationwide in maritime personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

In many cases, the surviving family members of those who are killed at sea are able to obtain wrongful death compensation under the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act, or Admiralty Law.

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The family of a sailor aboard the El Faro, the cargo ship that sunk while out to sea during Hurricane Joaquin, is filing a $100 million lawsuit against the vessel’s owner and captain.

The lawsuit was filed in Duval County Court on Wednesday.

The man was among the 33 men and women aboard the freighter that sunk Oct. 1 in 15,000 feet of water east of the Bahamas.

The suit alleges that Tote Maritime and its captain were negligent in choosing to sail a 41-year-old cargo ship into dangerous weather. The lawsuit claims that Tote needs to place more emphasis on employee safety and less on profits.

Tote has not yet issued a response to the lawsuit.

Wrongful death suits are are usually quite complex and some of the hardest lawsuits to file, mostly due to the high level of emotion behind these cases and the grieving process that surviving family members are still going through. Despite the hardships of these cases, they are necessary, as consulting with a wrongful death lawyer can help the family recover compensation from the at-fault party to pay for costly expenses like a funeral, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering.

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The Coast Guard announced today its plans to end its search at sunset for 33 missing crew members from a U.S. cargo ship that sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin.

Coast Guard officials made the announcement at a 3 p.m. news conference Wednesday.

The 790-foot cargo ship sank Thursday off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds that was producing 50-foot waves.

Officials believe the ship’s captain had plans to go around the storm as he headed from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico but the El Faro fell victim to unexplained engine failure that left it unable to avoid the storm.

Federal investigators announced they still hope to recover a data recorder from the ship as search crews continue looking for any survivors.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to Jacksonville on Tuesday to begin the agency’s inquiry, which will help get to the bottom of the question of why the captain, crew and owners of El Faro decided to risk sailing in hurricane waters.

Another unanswered question is whether the five workers whose job was to prepare the engine room for a retrofitting had any role in the boat’s loss of power, which set the vessel adrift in the stormy seas. Officials from Tote Inc., the vessel’s owner, do not believe this to be true. However, the answers determined will help investigators figure out why the boat apparently sank near the Bahamas, possibly claiming the lives of all 33 aboard.

The ship is believed to have gone down in 15,000 feet of water after reporting its last known position last Thursday. One unidentified body has been found.

 

When the El Faro left Jacksonville on Sept. 29, five workers from Poland came along with 28 U.S. crew members to do some preparatory work in the engine room, according to reports. It is not believed that this work would have had anything to do with what affected the propulsion.

 

The El Faro had no history of engine failure, and company records show it underwent its last annual Coast Guard inspection in March.

The American Bureau of Shipping, a nonprofit organization that sets safety and other standards for ships, did full hull and machinery inspections in February and reported no problems.

 

The loss of this vessel is undoubtedly a tragedy to all parties involved, including the families of the missing crew. If negligence was a factor in this accident, which resulted in engine failure, this could be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, or an injury suit if any survivors are located.
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The Coast Guard announced Monday that the El Faro, a cargo ship that left Jacksonville on September 29 for a routine trip to Puerto Rico, likely sank in the Atlantic while caught in the powerful Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin.

On board were 33 crew members.

Crews have found items from the ship, including several survival suits, a life ring and two lifeboats. One of the suits had a body in it that has yet to be identified.

The spot where they think they ship sank is 15,000-feet deep and somewhere near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. All communications were lost at 7:20 a.m. Thursday.

Following the search and rescue mission, the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard will start their investigations.

According to records obtained from the American Bureau of Shipping, the El Faro had up-to-date safety inspections. The ship was last inspected by ABS on Feb. 13. It received annual endorsements for Load Line, Cargo Ship Safety Construction, and Cargo Ship Safety Equipment. According to ABS, the El Faro had no statutory deficiencies as of its last reporting.

Tim Nolan, president of TOTE Maritime, which owns El Faro, released a statement Monday afternoon:

“At this point in time, the entire TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico family is distressed that it now appears the El Faro sank at or near its last known position on Thursday October 1, 2015. We continue to hold out hope for survivors. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family members and we will continue to do all we can to support them. The efforts and assistance from the US Coast Guard has been extraordinary and we continue to be grateful for their dedication and efforts to find surviving crew members. TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico continues to work closely with the Coast Guard in ongoing search and rescue.”

While the media and public might believe the ship is gone, Coast Guard search teams as well as families of the missing crew still have hope that they will find survivors. Hurricane weather conditions do make survival more difficult, but it is important to note that a person can survive four or five days in warm water.

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More than 200 passengers on two cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas and Celebrity’s Infinity, have fallen ill with norovirus. The CDC is now investigating the outbreak and monitoring clean up procedures on the two ships.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through contaminated food, water and dirty surfaces. Similar to the stomach flu, norovirus can cause up to three days of stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. This usually does not require treatment, but some people may become dehydrated and need liquids or intravenous fluids.

Cruise Ship Liability

Cruise ship passengers do have a bill of rights, but the terms of the ticket contract are what determine passengers’ right to sue.

147301814_1ca9572eb8_mUnder the contract, usually located on the back of the cruise ticket, passengers generally waive their right to sue unless the cruise company was negligent in some way. In order to show the cruise line was negligent, it must be demonstrated that the cruise line had a duty to reasonably care for its passengers, but breached that duty, which in turn, caused you harm.

A reasonable standard of care often translates to mean that the cruise company took adequate measures to clean rooms and restrooms, handled and stored food and water properly and made a reasonable effort to quarantine sick passengers to stop the spread of disease. Lastly, it must be shown that the cruise company’s breach of duty is what caused your injury. In the case of norovirus, the cruise company may allege that you already had the virus when you came aboard the ship. It could even claim that you picked it up on shore during one of the stops. However, in this case, it will be quite difficult for Celebrity and Royal Caribbean to argue that the 200 passengers were already sick before coming onto their ships.

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A 28-year-old cruise ship worker has been arrested after being accused of raping a passenger aboard a Holland America Line vessel and then trying to throw her overboard, according to authorities.

The FBI arrested the man Sunday when the MS Nieuw Amsterdam returned to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The incident apparently occurred early Friday morning in international waters off the coast of Roatan, Honduras.

The victim, a 31-year-old U.S. woman, told detectives that she was attacked and raped in her stateroom. She went on to tell authorities that her attacker attempted to throw her from the balcony, but she escaped and received help from another passenger.

holland america cruiseThe accused eventually turned himself in. According to reports, the 28-year-old Indonesian man told investigators he attacked the victim because she had disrespected him earlier.

The man has been charged with attempt to commit murder and aggravated sexual abuse.

Holland America Line issued a statement on Tuesday stating that they are working with the authorities to understand how the incident occurred and what additional actions the company can take to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

“At Holland America Line, the safety of our guests is our highest priority, and we are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident,” Holland America Line president and CEO Stein Kruse said in a news release. “To our knowledge, no incident like this has occurred in our company’s 140-year history.”

The MS Nieuw Amsterdam took a seven-day western Caribbean charter cruise that left from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 9.

If you are a cruise ship passenger that has been injured on a cruise ship then you need to seek experienced legal help as soon as possible. Special laws govern injury claims for passengers of cruise lines, limiting the time you have to file a lawsuit, sometimes as soon as six months from the incident date. A Fort Lauderdale Cruise Injury & Maritime Law Attorney at Whittel & Melton proudly helps passengers that have suffered harm in many different cruise ship accident situations. From criminal assaults or sexual attacks committed by other crew members or passengers to slip, trip and fall accidents and other mishaps arising from negligence, we can help you hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.

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Court documents allege that Carnival Cruise Lines was aware of the risk of leaks from engine fuel hoses on the Carnival Triumph that later caught on fire at sea before it set sail on Feb. 7.

Documents filed by Carnival Cruise Lines in federal court in Miami revealed a compliance notice report that was apparently sent to the Triumph one month before it departed Galveston that recommended spray shields be installed on engines’ flexible fuel hoses.

A leak from a hose on engine No. 6 led to a fire on Feb. 10 as the ship made its way back from a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. While no one was injured in the fire, it caused the ship to be disabled. This left more than 4,000 people aboard the ship while it was towed to Mobile, Ala., a trip that many referred to as a “floating hell.”

carnival triumph betch.jpgThe documents are part of a lawsuit that was filed in February against Carnival Cruise Lines and its parent Carnival Corporation by dozens of the Triumph’s passengers.

The lawsuit claims that Carnival was negligent in maintaining the ship by allowing it to sail knowing there was a fire risk.

In response to these serious allegations, Carnival said the ship’s engines passed inspection before departure and that the recommendations to install spray shields on flexible fuel lines was beyond necessary safety requirements.

Cruise lines have a duty of care they must exercise when it comes to passengers. When they fail to follow proper safety procedures and act in a negligent manner, passengers are at risk for suffering injuries and even death. While many cruise lines lawsuits can be complex due to international laws, the South Florida Cruise Injury and Maritime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are familiar with both national and international laws and will fight aggressively to get you the compensation you rightfully deserve for your suffering.

This case shows that Carnival chose to withhold vital information to passengers travelling aboard the Triumph. As a passenger on a cruise ship, it is very important to fully understand your rights under maritime law. The key things to remember are that a cruise line is obligated to keeping passengers safe and when you purchase your cruise ship ticket, the fine print on the back serves as your contract, which often has specific time constraints and limits for filing a claim. Under maritime law, cruise line owners are required to maintain safe vessels, and should for some reason the vessel not be seaworthy and passengers become injured, the cruise line owner can be held liable for damages.

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A Canadian passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship vanished recently, and police in the Cayman Islands suspect the 65-year-old may have fallen off the boat.

Search crews have been scouring the waters around the British Caribbean territory looking for the unidentified man believed to have fallen around dawn Tuesday about 13 miles northwest of Grand Cayman.

Police have interviewed staff and witnesses aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship and are still investigating the disappearance.

Police issued the following statement: “The Port Authority broadcasted an appeal to all marine traffic to be on the lookout for the missing passenger.”

The man’s wife reported him missing on Tuesday morning, right as the Independence of the Seas ship prepared to dock at George Town Harbor.

independance of the seas betch.jpgA spokeswoman for Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises said the investigation was turned over to local authorities before the cruise ship departed and continued on its path. The man’s wife got off the ship in the Grand Cayman.

According to police, the wife claims they went to sleep around 1 a.m. Tuesday and that her husband was gone when she woke up about six hours later.

Authorities have searched the 15-deck, 1,112-foot-long craft and reviewed closed-circuit camera footage before the ship set out. The ship is on a six-night cruise that left from Fort Lauderdale on Sunday and has port calls in Jamaica and Haiti. It is equipped to lodge 4,375 guests and more than 1,300 crewmembers.

This man is the second Canadian passenger that has gone missing from a Royal Caribbean ship recently.

On Saturday, a 26-year-old jumped from the Adventures of the Seas near a Puerto Rican island on the last night of a week-long Caribbean cruise with his family. The U.S.
Coast Guard finished its search for the man on Monday.

Cruise ships can be a wonderful way to travel in ease and hit many destinations in a short period of time. Due to its beautiful year-round climate and open waterways, south Florida is the perfect starting point for many cruise lines. In fact, more than 5,300 ships call at Port Everglades in a year making this port located within the three cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach one of the world’s best and busiest cruise ports. However, with the increasing popularity of travelling via cruise lines, we are starting to see an abundance of cruise ship accidents, ship malfunctions, crimes and a larger number of reported accidents, injuries and wrongful deaths suffered by cruise ship passengers.

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