Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Injury

A commuter ferry boat crashed into a lower Manhattan pier early Wednesday causing injuries to 57 people, and reports indicate one was critically injured.

Firefighters and rescue workers responded to the scene at approximately 8:43am. A passenger reported to CNN that “people were thrown into the air and the ground”.

A tragic incident has been reported involving a commercial dive boat with 23 people on board. This incident happened in Pompano, Florida, and it was reported that the boat was returning after a excursion involving diving. Upon return it was reported that a “rogue wave “hit the boat, causing it to capsize.

Rogue waves are often blamed for tragic incidents such as this. Exactly what is a rogue wave is debatable. Also, there is no excuse on the part of the operator of the boat just because he claims it was a rogue wave that caused the boat to capsize.

Protestors in Venice are trying to ban the large cruise ships from entering in and out of the Venice passage, which is only yards from the city’s famous piazza, San Marco. Critics have stated that passage of these mega cruise ships poses a risk of environmental damage, as well as the fear of another Costa Concordia disaster which could destroy this historical city. There have been such criticism in the past of the cruise ships sailing in and out of Venice, but the recent Costa Concordia disaster has again brought into the spotlight the potential of enormous environmental damages, as well as the risk of an accident causing disaster.

The critics have been heard as the Italian government has been reported to be examining a new route for the larger cruise ships that visit Venice, which would divert them away from the San Marco area.

The right to receive maintenance and cure if you are injured or suffered an illness while in the service of a vessel, as a seaman, is one of the oldest remedies available to seamen. It is an ancient obligation placed on the employer to take care of seamen who suffer an injury or illness while in the service of a vessel. There are a few exceptions to the obligation, and any ambiguities or doubts as to the right of a seamen to maintenance and cure must be resolved in favor of the seaman.

Maintenance and cure is a contractual form of compensation that is provided for under the general Maritime law. The obligation to provide maintenance and cure does not depend on any determination of fault. It is an obligation that is treated as an implied term of any contract of Maritime employment with a seaman.

A seaman can recover maintenance and cure even for an injury or illness that may have pre-existed the seaman’s employment unless the seaman knowingly or fraudulently concealed a medical condition from his employer at the time he was hired.

The employer is entitled to investigate any claim for maintenance and cure benefits before paying them. One of the few defenses available to a Maritime employer to deny maintenance and cure, is a defense that the seaman willfully concealed a pre-existing medical condition from his employer. Most, if not all, employers of seamen, require the seamen to submit to pre-employment physical examinations and interviews. It is at this time that the seaman must be very careful not to fail to disclose any pre-existing medical condition he or she may have as this may later result in a defense raised by the employer to a claim for maintenance and cure.

In order to maintain the defense of an intentional misrepresentation by the seaman, the Maritime employer must establish the three elements in order to have a valid basis to deny maintenance and cure benefits:

1. The seaman intentionally misrepresented or concealed medical information;

2. The medical information that was not disclosed would have been material to the employer’s decision whether to hire the crewmembers; and
3. There is a casual connection between the information that was not disclosed and the injury or illness the seaman is claiming maintenance and cure benefits for in the lawsuit.
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Following news about a cruise ship operated by Princess cruise lines passing by stranded boaters in distress, resulting in a lawsuit, it was reported that a cruise ship operated by Disney, the Disney fantasy, was involved in the rescue of four men found drifting on a raft near Key West, Florida. We previously discussed the Princess cruise ship’s failure to comply with well established maritime law governing the obligation to rescue. On a different note, CNN reported that a Disney cruise ship saved four men on Sunday afternoon.The Disney Fantasy was en route to Grand Cayman from Port Canaveral when four men were spotted aboard a raft near Key West, signaling for help. According to the article, the men from the raft were brought aboard the ship and given medical help, food and water. Rebecca Peddie of Disney Cruise Line states, “We are proud of our Disney Fantasy crew members, who skillfully demonstrated their training and commitment to maritime protocols around saving lives at sea.”

It is good to hear, and to publish, favorable accounts of heroics performed by a cruise ship company. We applaud Disney for their efforts, and will keep a close eye on the lawsuit against princess for any developments.

On Monday, The Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship called for help around 11 a.m. in regards to a 67-year old passenger onboard the ship who was suffering from a stroke. At the time of the call, the cruise ship was about 414 miles from Cape Cod. The passenger was retrieved by a Coast Guard helicopter and then taken to a hospital in Boston. Coast Guard Lieutenant Garin Kirkpatrick stated that “given the poor weather and the distance from shore, we had to meticulously plan the flight in order to conduct the medevac.”

An evacuation from a cruise ship can be a very dangerous procedure, and one not often undertaken unless close to a life and death situation, of an extremely serious accident requiring specialized treatment. Cruise ships are generally not equipped for many emergencies although they state they comply with standards of the emergency physicians association, and hire doctors who have training in emergency medicine.

It was recently reported in Rome that cruise ships are being asked to resume their ”sail-by salutes.” It stopped after the Costa Concordia disaster, which occurred while the captain was carrying out a “salute” in January of this year. According to an article published in the Telegraph titled “Calls for cruise ship ‘sail by salutes’ to resume after Costa Concordia tragedy,” salutes should be allowed ”safely and securely as it was fundamental to the tourist trade which Italy relies upon, especially in the summer, when it has more than 40 million visitors a year.” According to the article, tourism chiefs and hotel bosses are making this request to the cruise industry. They let some time pass since the tragic disaster and are now requesting this practice be resumed.

After the Costa disaster, cruise ships have been criticized for a practice that appears to be more common than was known when we first learned of the Costa Concordia disaster. The cruise ship company, Costa, continues to deny the captain had the permission to do the “salute” or that it was common practice. Notwithstanding the tragedy that occurred with the capsizing of the Costa Concordia, the President of the Federation of Hotel owners of Ischia ,Ermando Mennella, said that “the inchino (salute) should be allowed to continue but obviously with safety and security guaranteed for all. It is fundamental for tourism especially to an island like Ischia and if it does not continue then it will have severe economic repercussions and cost jobs in the long run. For many years now cruise ships and mega yachts have been sailing past Ischia, which has helped promote our island in times of economic crisis and last summer alone more than 7,500 cruise ship passengers came ashore.”

Some recently interesting developments in the maritime law field.

It was reported that there was a large settlement reached in the case involving a Philadelphia duck boat that was involved in a collision in the Delaware River. The collision caused the boat to sink in the year 2010, killing two Hungarian students who drowned when the amphibious watercraft sank after being struck by a 250-foot barge that was being pushed by a tugboat. The case was pending in a federal court where the owners of the vessels were seeking to take advantage of an outdated and harsh maritime law called Limitation of Liability. The owners of the vessels were seeking to limit their exposure to the value of the vessels after the collision, which was reported to be approximately $1.8 million. However, the settlement is reported to have been $17 million.

The Limitation of Liability law was enacted more than 150 years ago, and remains part of the maritime law of the United States. This federal statute simply has no place in today’s maritime world. The Limitation of Liability Act (LOLA) was brought into focus after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion incident that killed nine maritime workers. This ancient and archaic law allows the vessels to limit their liability to the post-voyage value of their vessel. Transocean was relying on LOLA to limits its liability for the Deepwater disaster to $27 million.

In the case involving the duck boat, the amphibious vessel was plowed over by a 250-foot barge being pushed by a tugboat in Philadelphia, and the owners were trying to limit their liability to $1.7 million.

The application of the Limitation of Liability Act results in harsh consequences, and hopefully our Congress will recognize this at some point in time.
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On April 23, I wrote about how in March boaters in distress were ignored by the Star Princess.

One of the boaters, an 18-year-old named Adrian Vasquez, survived after 28 days at sea but his two friends died, one only hour after the cruise ship passed. Today it is being reported that the one survivor has filed a lawsuit against Princess Cruise lines for failing to assist, and just driving by.

I have written about the former child supervisor, Paul Trotter, who admitted to police that he sexually abused children onboard the cruise ships he worked for and was arrested in February for these actions.Trotter worked for Cunard Cruise lines and today the 34-year-old man starts his four year sentence for the crime he committed.

Also according to USA TODAY, “The Daily Echo of Southampton, England reports that Paul Trotter of Pontefract, England also will be placed on the U.K.’s sex offenders’ register for life and banned from working with children.” He admitted to sexual assaulting 13 year old boys between the years of 2007 and 2011. He also admitted to “taking, making and possession of indecent images of the children, who were between the ages of 7 and 13.” It is still confusing how he was able to commit these disgusting crimes without detection. According to the president and managing director of Cunard Cruise lines Peter Shanks, they will be changing their recruitment process for youth centers onboard their ships. Maybe something they should have realized much earlier!