Boating & Jet Ski Accidents

Boating is a great way to enjoy south Florida. However, injuries occur on boats, cruise ships and other water crafts far more often then you may think. And, when they do, these injuries can be devastating. If you or a loved one were hurt in a boating accident of any kind, call our office to learn more about your potential claim. These cases are governed by very specific and nuanced state and federal maritime laws and are unlike other personal injury cases in many way. It is important that your attorney be experienced and skilled in these types of cases as there many laws that exclusively to accidents on the water.

Admiralty and Maritime Law

Admiralty and maritime law is a specific area of law that pertains to boats, ships, and other water crafts operating on navigable waterways. That is, there has to be access to open water, as opposed to contained bodies of water, such as a man-made lake.

Cruise Ship Injuries

Passengers on cruise ships are not immune from accidents and injuries. Cruise ship passengers should retain their cruise ship tickets as tickets often contain carefully drafted provisions designed to limit access to courts and compensation for injuries sustained at sea. For example, cruise ship tickets oftentimes shorten the statute of limitations to one year, attempt to exclude liability for independent contractors, and limit where lawsuits can be filed. Cruise ship injuries may include:

Slip and Fall Accidents
Wet decks and stairs account for a large number of passenger injury claims aboard cruise ships. These are essentially premises liability cases in which the cruise line owes a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances to all of its passengers or invitees.

Shore Excursion Injuries
When injuries occur during a shore excursion, it may be difficult to establish the cruise ship’s liability, as the excursions are usually contracted out to separate legal entities who the cruise lines claim are solely liable. However, where the ship is backing and promoting the contracted shore excursion operator or company, you may have a claim against both the individual operator and the cruise ship.

Tender Accidents
Tenders are the ferry boats that take passengers from the ship to the shore. Injuries can occur aboard tenders for numerous reasons, including simple negligence, inadequate experience, improper training and supervision, excessive speed, or an insufficient number of employees to help passengers..

Medical Malpractice on Board
Cruise ship passengers rely on cruise ship employees and medical personnel to promptly and properly address injury and illness. Unfortunately, sometimes medical malpractice occurs on cruise ships, just as it does on land.

Spa Injuries
Although the spas on board cruise ships are supposed to be relaxing, serious injuries can occur. Since the spa operator is usually contracted through the cruise line, personal injury claims can frequently be filed against not only the spa operator, but in certain situations, against the cruise line as well.

Dram Shop Liability
Cruise ships are liable for serving alcohol to clearly intoxicated passengers who then sustain severe injuries or cause injuries to other passengers. In this scenario, the ship is responsible for any injuries or damages that result.

Seaman’s Rights and Remedies

In 1920, the federal government passed the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or The Jones Act, as it is more commonly known. This act, based on similar legislations protecting railroad workers, governs injury claims by seamen and crew members. Under the Jones Act, those injured must show negligence on the part of the captain or ship owner. These claims are complex and should only be handled by an attorney experienced in this area.

Please consider the following:

  • Individuals that sail with the ship for a certain period of time, such as shore-based supervisors, may also entitled to protection under The Jones Act. We can discuss your situation and determine if your time spent on the ship qualifies you for Jones Act protection.
  • Also, our firm does not handle only injury related matters for seamen and crew members. We also represent them in stand-alone wage claims and wage claims pertaining to the injury in question.

Seaman’s Claim for Injury, Illness, and Death

If you are a seaman that works on a vessel that routinely sails in and out of ports in the United States, you have certain rights under the laws of the United States of America. In fact, even if you are not a United States resident or citizen, or if you signed an employment contract waiving your rights, or if they sent you home because of illness or injury before you could take any action in the United States, you may still have remedies. Your rights include:

  • The right to receive money damages for any injury or illness you suffered while working, which resulted from either the negligence of your employer or unsafe conditions on the vessel
  • The right to prompt and adequate medical care for any illness or injury, regardless of fault
  • The right to receive maintenance (hotel, food, etc.), and sometimes your wages while you are being treated for an illness or injury
  • The right to twice the amount of any earned wages if not timely paid and if discharged in a United States port
  • The right to work aboard a safe and seaworthy ship, free of any defects

In the United States, you are allowed to hire an independent attorney to protect your rights and to file claims against your employer and the vessel to recover damages for your injury, illness, or wages.

If you or a loved one was injured in a boating or jet ski accident, contact Viñas & DeLuca for a free and confidential consultation by calling (305) 372-3650. Or, you can complete our Free Case Evaluation Form and we will contact you.