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What To Do If Someone Falls Overboard on a Cruise Ship

Cruise Ship What should you do if someone falls overboard on a cruise ship? Alert the proper authorities immediately. Tell a member of the crew right away. They will notify the captain according to an established protocol.

Falling Overboard Can Be Fatal

Don’t wait or assume that a “man overboard” incident will be noted by security cameras. Why? First, while cruise ships have security cameras, most of them are unmanned, so a falling incident may not be noted until it is too late. Some, like Disney Cruise Lines, have state-of-the-art detection equipment, including radar and sonar detection that would pick up a falling person. But many do not. There is no requirement, currently, that ships carry these.

Second, rescuing someone who has fallen overboard takes time. According to the protocol, the ship must return to the site where the person hit the water. But all ships take time to turn and slow down. Seconds are precious — so you must make sure every second counts. The captain, once alerted, will put an emergency response into effect, including a rescue team and lowering a lifeboat and safety gear. A life preserver will be thrown on the spot you identify.

But the captain and crew must be notified to begin the protocol.

The captain may also alert the Coast Guard and other authorities to help in the search.

Third, falling overboard is dangerous. In fact, maritime observers think it is fatal up to 90% of the time. People falling overboard can hit the water from a great distance, causing injury in addition to the danger of drowning. They may have hit the boat on the way down. Cold water can cause shock that impedes their ability to swim — and, of course, not every cruise passenger can swim.

If hypothermia sets in, or inclement weather and night impedes rescue efforts, a “person overboard” situation is very likely to end in death.

Safety Features in Place

While it’s frightening to think of falling off a cruise ship — or seeing someone fall — such cases are very rare. Industry trade group Cruise Lines International Association estimates that they occur at an approximate rate of 1 per 1.3 million. Of the more than 24 million cruise passengers per year, cases in recent years have ranged from 16 to 27 annually.

That’s partly because cruise ships place structural barriers, rails, and balcony heights in areas to stop the possibility of falling. It would be difficult to fall over unintentionally because of these features.

Still, it’s not impossible if people are under the influence of substances like alcohol, which many think accounts for a large percentage of man overboard incidents, or are trying to commit suicide — or imprudently clowning around. It’s not impossible that foul play also accounts for some incidents.

Experienced Maritime Attorneys in New York

If you or a loved one has fallen from a cruise ship, or experienced other injuries while on a cruise, contact the experienced New York and Long Island maritime attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye.

When injuries or death happen on a cruise ship or as a result of incidents there, any legal claims will likely be considered under maritime law or other applicable federal law and state law, depending on the nature and circumstances of the injury. It is very important that you consult experienced maritime lawyers.

We will listen to the facts of the case, determine the applicable law, and develop the most persuasive case possible on your behalf. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Additional Resources:

  1. Eisenberg, Sherri. “What Happens When Someone Falls Off a Cruise Ship?” Fox News. March 9, 2015. http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2015/03/09/what-happens-when-someone-falls-off-cruise-ship.html
  2. Garay, Elissa. “What Happens When Someone Falls Off a Cruise Ship?” Conde Nast Traveler. May 11, 2017. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/what-happens-when-someone-falls-off-a-cruise-ship

Death on the High Seas: When Can Loved Ones File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In January 2018, a Carnival Cruise Line ship was traveling toward the Bahamas from Jacksonville, Florida with hundreds of passengers who had been eagerly anticipating the four-day cruise. One of them would never return home. The unidentified woman fell off the 14th deck to the 11th deck. Very few details have been released, but it’s believed she died quickly. Later that same week, another woman fell overboard to her death on a different Carnival Cruise. And last October, an eight-year-old girl fell to her death on yet another Carnival Cruise ship.

Between 2014 and 2017, 91 deaths were reported on cruise ships arriving in Fort Lauderdale. Exact numbers are hard to come by, since cruise lines wish to avoid the negative publicity, but it’s thought that up to three people die each week on cruise ships around the world. Many of those deaths are from natural causes, but some are not. When a loved one dies at sea, families are often confused about their legal rights and options.

Maritime law is arguably among the most complicated and challenging areas of the law, and so it’s necessary for families to find a lawyer who is well-versed in maritime laws, including the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA).

What does DOHSA cover?

DOHSA was originally passed in 1920 to allow family members to recover compensation when maritime workers were killed at sea, beyond the three-mile territorial limit. The act also covers the deaths of passengers on seafaring vessels, as well as workers and passengers on commercial airliners, provided they are killed past the 12-mile limit for international waters.

When can a wrongful death claim be filed?

Family members may file a wrongful death claim under DOHSA if a passenger or worker on a cruise ship or other seafaring vessel dies as a result of the ship’s owner’s negligence or poor judgment. Families can also file a claim if the death occurred because the vessel was not seaworthy.

Some common examples of how deaths occur at sea are:

  • Overturned vessel
  • Fall from heights
  • Onboard fire or explosion
  • Mechanical error or defective equipment
  • Lack of timely and appropriate medical care
  • Inadequate safety precautions
  • Inadequate training of personnel

Another common cause of death at sea is infectious diseases, such as norovirus. Cruise ships have gained notoriety for the prevalence of disease outbreaks, given the sheer number of people in close proximity to each other.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

DOHSA has strict requirements regarding which family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim under this act. The only people who can file a claim are:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parent
  • Dependent family members

Long Island maritime lawyers

It isn’t easy to make decisions in the wake of a loved one’s sudden death. Acute grief can make it difficult to think clearly. At Edelman, Krasin & Jaye, our maritime lawyers on Long Island are here to answer your questions and help you understand the situation from a legal standpoint.

Our seasoned litigators know the ins and outs of filing wrongful death claims under the Death on the High Seas Act. We urge surviving family members to call us right away at 1-800-469-7429 to request a free consultation.

Additional resources on maritime law:

  1. Cruise Critic, When a Passenger Dies at Sea: What You Need to Know, https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1631
  2. Newsweek, Carnival Cruise Passenger’s Death After Two-Story Fall Marks at Least Second Falling Death for Carnival in a Year, http://www.newsweek.com/carnival-cruise-passenger-dies-falls-balcony-787034

3 Surprisingly Dangerous Jobs

commercial fishingDoes working on a commercial fishing vessel or learning to pilot one seem idyllic? It might, if you love the ocean and being outdoors. If you focus on the sunrise over the ocean or the crisp sea air, danger may never enter your mind.

But in fact, people who have jobs on commercial fishing vessels work in one of the most hazardous jobs in the country. They are 29 times more likely to die from injuries and accidents related to their occupation than workers in other fields. The hours can be very long and the conditions under which they work difficult. Weather or a damaged vessel may compromise their safety.

These are 3 of the most dangerous jobs in the maritime industry:

  • Commercial fisherman
  • Deckhand aboard a commercial fishing vessel
  • Water transportation worker

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 42 workers on commercial fishing boats lost their lives every year between 2000 and 2015.

In terms of averages, that equates to 117 deaths for every 100,000 workers. The U.S. total for fatalities related to jobs, for all workers? Only 4 deaths for every 100,000 workers, on average.

Fishing vessel fatalities

These statistics make vividly clear how dangerous life on a fishing vessel can be.

  • Close to half of all the deaths during the period happened as a result of a vessel disaster, such as a sinking or disabled ship. This was by far the leading cause of death. Fifty-five percent of vessel disasters that resulted in a death were caused by weather.
  • Thirty percent of deaths were caused by a worker falling overboard.
  • Twelve percent occurred as a result of an onboard injury.
  • Nine percent happened as a result of diving or onboard injury.

As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NIOSH have a very active safety program to curb the number of deaths.

Safety programs can have a measurable impact on safety — no worker who died by being swept overboard was wearing a flotation device, for example. But even one death is too many.

Legal Protections

What legal protections do commercial fishermen have from dangerous and hazardous conditions? The law is complex, but there are two overarching forms of protection.

The first is common law, which mandates that the owners of a ship guarantee its sea-worthiness. It must be able to weather any dangers that can be reasonably expected, such as high winds and crashing waves while far out at sea.

The second is the Jones Act. This allows seamen to claim damages for personal injury in a way similar to the civil lawsuits brought for any other personal injury, but the suits are brought under admiralty regulations and rules.

Experienced Commercial Fishing Injury Attorneys on Long Island

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident related to commercial fishing, call an experienced Long Island maritime attorney at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye today. Our initial consultation costs you nothing. We will fight for your rights to maximum compensation under the law!

Other Resources on the Dangers of Commercial Fishing:

8 Ways You Can Get Seriously Injured on a Cruise Ship

Cruise Ship Vacation. Sea Travel Concept with Deckchairs on the Vessel Deck.Most people associate cruise ships with fun and leisure. You can bask in the sun. Gaze out over the ocean. Enjoy wonderful meals. In many cruise ships, excitement and pleasure are the order of the day, with entertainment, gaming, and special events.

Unfortunately, cruise ships can also turn dangerous, and even deadly.

Multiple Ways to Be Seriously Injured While on a Cruise

Cruise ships have all the dangers of tall and complex buildings — and in addition, all the dangers of deep water and complex marine navigation.

You can be seriously injured by the following:

  1. Falls overboard
  2. Falls down stairs
  3. Fire onboard, either in your cabin or other parts of the ship
  4. Docking accidents
  5. Accidents involving another vessels
  6. Navigational mistakes
  7. Swimming pool accidents
  8. Infections from viruses contracted on board or at ports of call

Not only can you be seriously injured or even killed by all of these and more, but treatment can turn into a medical emergency. While cruise ships may have medical personnel onboard, they may be unable to adequately treat your injury. If they airlift you to land, it can cost as much as $25,000. If you need or prefer to be transported back to the U.S., it can end up costing thousands more.

A Distinct Body of Law Governing Cruise Ships

When injuries or death happen on a cruise ship or as a result of incidents there, any legal claims will likely be considered under maritime law or other applicable federal law and state law, depending on the nature and circumstances of the injury.

Cruise ships are designated as “common carriers,” meaning that they have a special duty to passengers above and beyond the ordinary reasonable care required of other providers of services.

Maritime law is a distinct body of law. It is complex. If you have a legal claim, for example, it may be possible to seek compensation from the vessel’s owner, the ship operator, the charter company, or even the ticketing agency.

Because cruise ship injuries can be extremely serious in nature, it is important that you begin the process of seeking recovery as soon as possible upon reaching shore.

Unfortunately, when accidents aboard a cruise ship happen, the victims are often pressured or coerced into making statements about the circumstances that caused the harm they sustained. This may significantly compromise their ability to recover damages down the road. For that reason, the experienced maritime attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye urge you to contact us as soon as possible following any accident on a cruise ship or at sea.

The Long Island and New York maritime lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye will listen to the facts of the case, determine the applicable law, and develop the most persuasive case possible on your behalf.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and possible next steps. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with an experienced New York City and Long Island maritime attorney today.

Additional Cruise Ship Injuries Resources:

  1.  “Eight People Injured During Cruise Ship Accident.” Good Morning America. ABC News. June 19, 2015. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/people-injured-cruise-ship-accident-31884097
  2. Leefeldt, Ed. “Why drinking on a cruise may sink your finances.” CBS News. February 13, 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drinking-on-a-cruise-may-sink-your-finances/