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Pensacola Legal Blog

Fight back when you suffer on the seas

Imagine being a dock worker and dealing with dangerous conditions at your workplace that threaten your safety. Or what if you worked on a cruise ship and the cruise ship operator knowingly allowed the ship to go out on the sea in dangerous shape. How about oil rig workers? What if the equipment that they work with on a daily basis fails, causing them severe injuries? And what about recreational boaters who take their boats, jet skis and yachts out on the sea? What if they get into an accident and a family friend or colleague suffers due to their negligent operation of the vehicle?

All of these circumstances could fall under the legal realm of admiralty and maritime law. People can suffer career-ending injuries at sea, and others can have their lives changed forever due to the severity of their injury. Innocent people can drown or suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in a boat accident due to unseaworthy vessels.

Report shows failings in Melbourne cruise ship accident

A report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) found that a recent accident in a port that involved a cruise ship could have been prevented. The accident occurred in January, when a cruise ship with 120 passengers on board broke free of its moorings and crashed into the pier. The ship was then stranded in the pier for several days as crew members and dock workers attempted to fix the situation. The passengers were stranded in the city of Melbourne during this time. It doesn't appear that anyone was injured in the incident.

The report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found that the people manning the bridge of the ship were unaware of the thunderstorm that was about to blow through the pier, thus freeing the ship from its moorings. The bridge members should have been on the ship prior to passengers boarding (which they weren't) as a matter of protocol, but also to hear weather updates from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Sea wall breached after ship loses control, crashes

A stunning video shows a large ship slowly approaching a sea wall before ultimately colliding with the wall and causing massive damage. The ship, called the Volcan de Tamasite, was supposed to travel from Tenerife to Las Palmas but during the trip there was a power outage on the ship that temporarily disabled the pilot's ability to steer the ship. It careened out of control and eventually barreled into a sea wall. A large section of the wall broke apart, but it doesn't appear to have caused any massive water spillage.

With 140 people aboard and 30 crew members, this could have been a major disaster. But thankfully, it appears the only serious damage involved in this ship accident was structural. No life-threatening injuries were reported, though five people needed to be hospitalized as a result of the crash.

Jet ski accident leaves man unconscious

A jet ski accident in Miami Beach left one person unconscious and another embodying the term "Good Samaritan" as he drove his boat to the injured jet skier and brought him aboard. The accident happened in the middle of the day and there are few answers right now as to how or why this accident occurred. What we do know is that the unconscious victim was also with a friend, who signaled to boaters in the area that they were in need of help. The unconscious victim was taken to a hospital, and his condition is not known.

There are a few things to learn from this story. The first is that if you use personal watercraft or your own water vessels, you should always operate them in a safe and responsible manner. Otherwise, you risk injuring yourself and others. But this is especially true with high-speed water vessels like jet skis.

Flying safely among the clouds: A look at the White-Miskell Act

Every summer, tourists flock to Florida's picturesque beaches in droves. While most are perfectly content to enjoy the beaches from the ground, parasailing offers thrill-seeking vacationers an opportunity to enjoy the sights from the air. Unfortunately, the parasailing industry in Florida has a tragic safety record.

As a 2016 Sun Sentinel article explains, "Since 1998 in Florida, parasailing has accounted for 38 injuries and six deaths." For years, the state legislature had refused to pass regulations that would have made the industry safer. That was until two infamous parasailing accidents changed everything.

Commercial fishing accidents can deal workers brutal injuries

There are so many different workers and industries under the umbrella of admiralty and maritime law. There are people that work on oil rigs and massive freighters. There are people that work or travel on cruise ships. There are people that work in shipyards. There are people that own yachts or use personal or recreational watercraft. All of these circumstances can lead to a boating accident or maritime incident that requires legal attention.

One area that may sometimes be forgotten is commercial fishing accidents. People who work on fishing vessels often work long hours with little sleep. They work in conditions that are brutal and they are around heavy and dangerous equipment all of the time. This combination of circumstances inherently makes for a dangerous mix.

What to do after an accident on the gulf

Millions of tourists come to Florida each year to enjoy a host of recreational activities on the gulf, including boating, fishing, jet skiing, parasailing, scuba diving and yachting. Most visitors end returning home with a great tan and even better memories.

Unfortunately, though, a small number of visitors are seriously injured, or even killed, while partaking in recreational activities on the gulf. Many of these accidents are the result of negligence on behalf of other boaters, or rental or tourism operations.

When this is the case, accident victims and their families will need to take specific steps to ensure that they get the compensation they deserve. These steps include:

Cruise ship cancels trip after striking buoy

While the following story didn't occur here in Florida, it exemplifies the problems that cruise ships have in general. A cruise ship in Galveston, Texas had to cancel a cruise recently after the ship crashed into a buoy that was under water. The cruise ship was casino themed and had just recently opened. Canceling the cruise certainly isn't going to help the new ship's reputation.

There were roughly 100 people on the ship when it crashed into the buoy, and though no one was injured, the ship did suffer damage to its hull. It doesn't appear that the damage was serious, and the ship should be fine soon.

Woman breaks ankle on cruise ship, sues Carnival for negligence

Carnival Cruise Lines is in the news again after they were sued by a woman who traveled on one of their ships in 2016 and suffered an injury that required surgery.

The case stems from a March 21, 2016 incident where a woman from Indiana slipped and fell on some stairs on a Carnival cruise ship. An uneven or slippery condition on the stairs caused the woman's slip and fall, as she claims. The woman fractured her ankle and required emergency surgery. 

Wave and wind capsizes recreational boat, leaves boaters injured

Imagine being on a recreational boat for what feels like the millionth time. You have experience boating and you've seen many different dangerous situations before, but you've always managed to save the situation in some way. But on this day, the conditions simply are too much for you, or your boat, to handle. As a result, you are wound up in a serious boat accident.

This is exactly what happened to four people in California recently, just as it happens to many people every year in the state of Florida. In this particular case, four people were on a small recreational boat that capsized after strong onshore winds toppled their boat when it got caught up in a wave.

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