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Pensacola Legal Blog

Video captured of cruise ship barely missing Florida shore

Our source article today has a video shot by homeowners in Port Everglades, Florida, that shows a cruise ship barreling into the narrow channel in a bizarre fashion, and nearly coming into contact with the shore. The homeowners who shot the video thought that the massive cruise ship was going to collide with their home. Given the awkward angle at which the cruise ship approaches and given the extreme measures the operators of the ship went to in order to avoid colliding with the shorelines demonstrate that the ship's approach was quite perilous.

According to the union of harbor pilots, strong winds and currents on the day of the incident contributed to the cruise ship's awkward approach in the channel. Since no "marine casualty" occurred in this incident -- which is a term that describes a wide range of possible incidents, not necessary the death of a marine or maritime worker -- there will be no investigation into it by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is simply an awkward approach that never went completely awry.

Recreational boat accident under investigation

A man and a woman were left with injuries, with one of them suffering what potentially could be serious injuries, after their 24-foot boat crashed into a private dock. The boat accident occurred over the weekend in Niceville, Florida, and investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are looking into the crash. At this time, there isn't a definitive cause.

But what we do know is that the recreational vessel was operating in shallow water at the time of the crash. We also know that the crash occurred around 8 p.m. on Saturday. Given these two factors, you immediately have to start thinking about negligent operation on the part of the boat operator, possibly involving speeding or even operation of the vessel under the influence of alcohol.

What are common causes of recreational boating accidents?

Florida's sun attracts many tourists and locals to the state's waterways, which fill with personal motor boats, jet skis, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and the like. Most people have fun on their mind when they go out to the water, but it's important to note that recreational boating accidents are a reality anytime you're on the water.

Admiralty and maritime law casts a wide net

Admiralty and maritime law is an area of law that many people may think can be easy generalized. "Oh, that's just about boats, right?" While this is technically correct, it leaves out a host of other legal issues that fall under admiralty and maritime law.

To begin, let's address that generalization: yes, admiralty and maritime law addresses boat accidents. This includes cruise ship accidents, recreational boating accidents, and even competitive boating accident. Yachts and oil rigs fall into this category too. People can suffer injuries on the deck of these ships through negligence of crew members or because of the negligence of the boat owner. Crew members themselves can be the victim of negligence. And if a boat is involved in an accident, then the legal ramifications speak for themselves.

Hazards Often Overlooked on Cruise Ships

In the vast majority of cases, mishaps on cruise ships amount to no more than inconveniences for passengers.

Still, each year vacationers and crew members suffer serious injuries on cruise ships for a variety of reasons.

Last gasp transmission leads to rescue after boat sinks

About a month ago we wrote a post about college fishing teammates for the University of Florida surviving a scary-looking recreational boat accident after a mechanical failure tossed them into the water. Today, we have another recreational boating accident that occurred in Florida that ended happily. This story involves a boating accident that occurred off the shore of Naples, Florida.

A family of five -- including 8-year-old triplets -- were saved by retired police officers when their ship suddenly started taking on water and sank. They were able to send a few quick transmissions over the radio, but they never gave a specific location in the brief time they had to alert others to their emergency. The retired police officers overheard their messages, pointed their boat in a direction that seemed likely given the little information that was provided, and got lucky.

Medical bills, rehab significant costs after shipyard accidents

In our last post, we talked about a cruise ship that drifted while at port. As a result of the unfortunate drifting, it collided with another ship. Thankfully, nothing serious appeared to happen, and both ships were cleared to leave port later that day. However, this is just one of myriad possibilities that exemplify the dangers that are present at ports, piers, docks and shipyards all across the country and, really, all around the world.

There are thousands of people that put their lives on the line when they work around heavy shipping containers, powerful lifting equipment, large ships and shipping equipment. They may suffer serious, catastrophic or even fatal injuries as a result of negligence at a pier or dangerous conditions at a shipyard.

Cruise ship drifts in port, collides with other ship

While the following story didn't occur here in the United States, it did involve an American-owned cruise ship. The "Seabourn Encore" drifted into a cement carrier in the Port of Timaru in New Zealand recently. The source story is light on details, so it is unclear if the cruise ship was in operation at the time or if it was docked and simply drifted on its own. What is known, though, is that the cruise ship collided with another.

Local officials launched an inquiry into the accident and ultimately cleared the cruise ship to continue operating. It left the port later that night after the accident. Investigators talked to crew members, but it appears that nothing was out of the ordinary.

Compensation is needed in the wake of maritime accidents

The Jones Act may not receive a lot of acclaim from the general public, but it is a crucial piece of legislation that seamen, shipyard workers, crew members on ships and many other maritime workers respect and uphold. The Jones Act protects workers at sea from dangerous working conditions and any injuries that they may suffer on the job as a result of a vessel's dangers or an employer's negligence.

Under the Jones Act, people injured while performing maritime work can seek damages for their medical costs, as well as future medical costs. They can also sue for lost wages and pain and suffering.

Mechanical failure tosses college fishing teammates out of vessel

Incredible video has surfaced of two members of the University of Florida bass fishing team being flung from their vessel at roughly 60 miles per hour due to a mechanical failure in the boat. While traveling at these fast speeds in a straight line, the boat suddenly experienced a steering part failure, and you can see the operator of the boat struggle to control the boat and keep it going in that straight line. Soon after wobbling off its course, the boat spins out and sharply tosses the two riders into the water. Thankfully, both the individuals who were flung from the boat were okay.

It is yet another reminder of the potential risks that boaters face when they are using their recreational vehicles out on the water, and it raises two important lessons.

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