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Pensacola Legal Blog

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.

Burned shipyard worker still in hospital month after incident

The source story for today's post is from Wisconsin, but it involves shipyards and the risks that are inherent to them, so it is applicable to any shipyard in the world. According to the Associated Press, a worker suffered serious burns at a shipyard on Feb. 6, and the worker was still hospitalized as of the writing of our source article (March 6). The individual was working on a vessel at the time of the burn.

Few other details can be gleaned from the story, but what is known is that Fraser Shipyards sent information to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and is working with the agency to deal with this incident and improve the safety of their work environment.

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.

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