Monthly Archives: June 2012

Proudly Representing Cruise Ship Cases in Miami, Nearby Areas of Florida and Nationwide

The Costa Concordia disaster of 2012 may be the most well-known recent case of a cruise ship venturing too close to shore, but it is definitely not the first one. The Canadian Coast Guard has filed a lawsuit for a cruise ship accident that caused damage and potentially serious pollution to area waters.

In 2010, the MV Clipper Adventurer unexpectedly ran into an uncharted rock shelf off the Canadian coast, near Nunavut. Canadian Coast Guard officials rescued the 128 passengers aboard the ship after the cruise ship’s crew was unable to get the vessel off the shelf.

According to the lawsuit, the cruise ship was carrying 13 tanks containing fuel, fresh water and sludge that came open in the crash. The Coast Guard is asking for nearly half a million dollars from the cruise ship to “prevent, repair or minimize” the damage from pollution caused by those tanks, according to CBC News.

Interestingly, the Clipper Adventurer’s owners filed a lawsuit of their own against the Canadian government last year stating that the government owed them more information about the hazards of the uncharted rock shelf. The Coast Guard’s lawsuit states that boaters have known about the rock shelf since at least 2007, three years before the accident.

Luckily the Clipper Adventurer’s passengers and crew all made it to safety, so the only issue at hand is the environmental impact of the cruise ship accident. However, it is entirely possible that the damage to the ship could have resulted in a dangerous situation for those on board. The situation was not as grave as it could have been, but its causes should still be investigated to prevent similar accidents in the future. It will be interesting to see if the courts find that the cruise ship crew should have known of the rock shelf and its risks, or if the government will be held liable for not making the shelf’s existence known.

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

Many people do not know this, but if you are injured aboard a cruise ship, many cruise lines require the injured passenger to bring suit against the cruise line in Miami, Florida.  Often times there is also a time limit for the potential suit, it must be filed within 1 year of the incident.  This is important because we at the Hickey Law Firm, P.A. have been in the field of maritime law, the law which governs cruise ships, for over 25 years.

There are 3 general categories of passenger claims:

1. Personal Injury – This would include slip and falls, or other injuries which occur on the cruise ship or on a cruise ship sponsored shore excursion.

2. Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice – Cruise ships are responsible to provide and infirmary and knowledgeable medical personnel, such as physicians, nurses, etc.  When the ship’s medical procedures, facilities, and personnel provide inadequate medical care, resulting in further injury, the cruise line may be guilty of medical malpractice.

3. Sexual Assault – Sexual assaults occur all too often aboard cruise ships.  The ship has a duty to keep their passengers safe, and often times sexual assaults result from negligence on the part of the cruise line.  Jack Hickey actually testified in front of the U.S. Congress in March 2007.

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys

We, here at Hickey Law Firm, P.A., specialize in Maritime & Admiralty Law.  This would usually include injuries which are sustained by those who are either on a yacht or who are struck by a yacht, which is in navigable waters.  A yacht which is in navigable waters is subject to maritime law.

The types of injuries we see resulting from maritime incidents range from orthopedic injuries, to traumatic brain injuries, to death. We handle the claims by those who work on board yachts when the suit will be brought against the owner or operator of the yacht.

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. is based in Miami, Florida, and we handle cases throughout the state, including in Fort Lauderdale, Florida which is just 30 minutes away from Miami.  Fort Lauderdale is known as the “yacht capital of the world.”

 

 

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys

When someone gets sick or injured on a cruise ship at sea, they are usually taken to the the ship’s on board infirmary.  Despite the ship’s advertising of luxury accommodations and  adequate medical facilities, the cruise lines do not always handle medical emergencies with the professionalism which one would expect.  When the cruise lines fail in their responsibility to provide proper medical care to their passengers, we at Hickey Law Firm, P.A. can help the affected parties seek justice.

Here is an example of cruise ship medical malpractice:

A recent story related related how a woman, who was cruising with her family, became drunk in the ship’s casino after have a few too many drinks.  She stumbled back to her cabin to lay down, where she was later joined by her fiance.  In the middle of the night he awakened to cries for help.  His fiance had gone to the bathroom to get some water, but had slipped and fallen, cutting an artery in the process.

The fiance called for help.  The ship sent 2 untrained staff to assist.  After realizing they were not equipped to help, they called the nurse, who arrived over 10 minutes later.  Because the woman’s body was going limp, she fell from the wheel chair in which she had been placed for transport.  The nurse called for a stretcher, but a rescue boat was brought back instead.  The staff attempted to transport the woman in a rescue boat.

The boat was too large to adequately maneuver through the hallways, and did not fit in the elevator.  The woman was then taken from the boat and carried down the stairs manually.  Shortly after arriving in the infirmary the woman went into cardiac arrest.  She died that day from her injury.

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys

Recreational boating refers to what many people would describe as going out on a typical 15′, 20′, or even 50′ boat.  We, here at Hickey Law Firm, P.A., represent those who have accident during recreational boating, as well as those injured on personal water craft such as jet skis, sea doo, or wave runners.  We represent those who are both injured by them, and who have been injured while riders on them.

In the following video clip, Jack Hickey talks a little about this area of practice.  Of particular interest is that there is a statute in Florida which mandates that those who rent out personal watercraft give lessons on how to properly operate the machines to those who rent from them.  Needless to say, this does not always happen, which could leave the renting company liable for any injuries sustained.

 

Some examples of accidents which may occur while recreational boating include a boat accident, or collision with another boat, with another structure in the water, or even with people in the water.  These accidents can be very serious and can result in serious injury or even death.

Accidents involving personal watercraft carry the same risks as does recreational boating.  The main difference being that often times the personal watercraft is capable of much higher speeds, while offering less protection due to their smaller sizes.  For example, a sea doo may be capable of speeds of 40 miles per hour or more, but is only a fraction the size of a standard recreational boat.  There have been many reports of serious accidents on personal watercraft.

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys

The Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy on January 13, 2012.  With the sinking of the ship, there were 32 lives lost and many more injured.  The removal of the Concordia will be one of the largest salvage operations ever undertaken, according to one of the companies involved in the effort, and will take a year to complete.

Titan Salvage, isa U.S. company which is owned by Crowley Maritime Group.  Together with the Italian underwater construction and engineering firm, Micoperi, they will work to remove the massive ship from the coast of Tuscany over the next year.

The companies have said that the salvage will take place in 4 distinct phases:

The first phase will see the ship stabilized.  A platform will be built underwater, and airtight boxes will be attached to the ship.

The second phase will involve filling the airtight boxes with water, and using a massive crane to pull the ship upright.

The third phase will involve stabilizing the ship with additional airtight boxes, called caissons.

The fourth phase of the salvage will involve emptying the airtight boxes and filling them with air, bringing the ship to a float

Once the ship has been restored to a floating position, the ship will be towed to an Italian port.  The salvage teams will then have to clean up the marine environment in which the ship currently sits.  It is not currently known what will be the ultimate fate of the ship after it arrives at the Italian port.  It is probable that the ship will be used as evidence in the ongoing criminal probe of the captain of the fated ship, and several officers of the cruise line.

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys

In the media there have been a number of stories recently about cruise ship rescues. Because there are literally dozens of cruise ships sailing the ocean’s seas on a daily basis, it is inevitable that once in a while the ship will come across stranded boaters, often times many miles from shore. What the cruise ship captain does in such a situation tells the passenger a lot about the cruise line’s ethics, and their following of the law.

The ethics of rescuing a stranded person, or people, are simple. If a ship is cruising far from shore, and it happens upon a boat in distress, the ship has an ethical duty to assist. A recent example of a situation in which the ship did not assist resulted in the deaths of 2 Panamanian men. The cruise line, Princess, is accused of having left the men to die, after passengers alerted the crew to the men’s distress. The ship did not aide the men, and 2 of the 3 men later died. The cruise line is now facing several law suits relating to the matter.

The cruise line also has a legal responsibility to assist stranded passengers. There are potential civil and criminal penalties for ignoring those who have been stranded at sea. These are long standing maritime statutes.

If you are ever aboard a cruise ship and see people stranded at sea, do not assume that the crew, or the captain, already knows about it.  Make sure to file a report with the closest crew member you can find, and physically show them the stranded boaters. Next, follow up with guest relations and be sure to get across to them the urgency of the situation.

 

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys

One of the last things most passengers expect to encounter during their cruise vacation is violence.  If we believe the picture perfect image painted by the cruise companies, we would believe that cruise vacations are exist in a true world apart, where nothing can go wrong.  But, nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, violence, and robbery in particular, is all too common aboard cruise ships and during ship sponsored excursions.

One particularly disturbing account of robbery was a story we recently covered about George Smith.  He was killed on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in 2005, in what is thought to have been a robbery attempt.  The FBI is still looking into the incident.

By far the most dangerous place on a cruise vacation seems to be during the off-ship excursions.  There have been numerous reports of hair raising robberies during these excursions.  About 6 months ago we covered a story out of Mexico in which in which a bus of approximately 22 cruise ship passengers were robbed at gunpoint during a shore excursion.  Though no one was seriously injured, the passengers were understandably shaken up after having been relieved of their valuables.

Now, we have a report a new report that echoes the Mexico story.  Five men in the island nation of St. Kitts have been charged with robbing cruise ship passengers in 2010.   In a case which has shocked the cruise and travel industries in the tiny nation, the men had been charged with stopping a bus full of cruise ship passengers, who were traveling on the road to Brimstone Hill, and robbing them of their possessions, including cell phones, jewelry, and other personal items.  The men have reportedly pleaded guilty to the crime.
St Kitts Prime Minister said yesterday in a statement that:
“The guilty pleas, which saved the court’s time, have been welcomed by law enforcement officials who remain firm in their relentless attack on crime and the mission to protect all residents and visitors to St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The guilty men include:
“Elroy Williams, Junior Sobratie, Curtis Long, George Welsh of Sandy Point and Delvin Francis of St. Paul’s, were indicted on four counts of Robbery, one count of Assault with intent to Rob, one count of Accessory before the fact and one count of Conspiracy to Rob.”

 

Hickey Law Firm, P.A. – Miami Injury Attorneys