U.S. District Court Reinstates Asbestos Claims Against Shipowners

asbestos claims

Decades ago, hundreds of thousands of maritime workers filed lawsuits against shipowners and companies alleging that they had exposed them to asbestos.  A large portion of those asbestos claims have remained stagnant since 1989, but now a District Court has reinstated claims filed by the estates of two sailors.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has reinstated two lawsuits that were filed by the estates of two merchant marines.  In 1989, a federal judge in Ohio granted the defendants (shipowners) two options – a jurisdiction transfer or waiving their personal jurisdiction defense.  The defendants never technically waived their defense, but also did not take action beyond requesting additional time to decide.

District Court Reinstates Asbestos Claims

The District Court’s decision to reinstate asbestos claims has created a split with the Sixth Circuit.  In 2017, Kalama v. Matson Navigation, determined that the federal judge originally ruling in the cases in 1989 was outside his authority when the decision was made.

The original case involved thousands of lawsuits filed in the Northern District of Ohio, using a theory of nationwide jurisdiction.  In 1989, the defendants challenged the jurisdiction, stating that consolidation in Ohio was improper since the shipowners had no direct ties to the state.  The judge agreed.  However, instead of granting a motion to dismiss the case, the judge stated that the case would be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  The defendants requested additional time to decide between the transfer and waiving their jurisdictional defense.

In subsequent hearings, the defendants stated that they wanted to see how certain issues would be decided by the judge before making a decision, but the plaintiffs objected.  The judge told the defendants they must file their answer by the deadline if they decided to waive jurisdiction.

The defendants appealed, stating that they would file answers “under protest”.  Some defendants did file answers in 1990, but others failed to meet the deadline.  For a year following, no motions were made regarding jurisdiction.  Cases where the defendants did file their answers proceeded in the Ohio court system as if they had waived jurisdiction.  Other cases were transferred.

In 1991, the asbestos claims were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL).  The cases were consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as MDL No. 875.  Defendants opposed, but did not raise personal jurisdiction defense.  MDL 875 initially included more than 121,000 individual cases.  Since 1991, 108,000 have been dismissed, settled, or remanded.  Around 13,000 cases are still pending.

After remaining stagnant for years, in 2011, three asbestos claims were reactivated by a different judge who was then presiding over the MDL.  The MDL Court issued to memorandum opinions in 2013 and 2014, concluding that several shipowners did not qualify for personal jurisdiction in Ohio, and that they had not waived their defense.

The three merchant mariners’ claims were dismissed based on a lack of personal jurisdiction.  All three dismissals were promptly appealed.  One appeal was ultimately dismissed because of conflicting claims made in state court outside the statute of limitations.  The state’s case was also dismissed.

The two remaining cases have been found to be valid, with the Court reversing the dismissals after finding that the defendants had, in fact, waived personal jurisdiction defenses.  In their opinion, the Court stated:

Barring any additional preliminary matters, these 30-year-old cases should at last proceed to adjudication on the merit.”

What this means for these plaintiffs and their loved ones is that, finally, resolution may finally be on the horizon.

Information About Asbestos

Asbestos is comprised of six silicate minerals.  Under a microscope, asbestos looks like strands of long fibers.  Asbestos has a number of properties that make it so appealing to manufacturers, including:

  • It is Inert – There is little to no chemical reaction between asbestos and other materials.
  • Non-Flammable – Asbestos is non-flammable. It will not burn or catch on fire.
  • Non-Corrosive – Asbestos fibers do not corrode in water, underground, or in soil.
  • Tensile Strength – For such an incredibly lightweight substance, asbestos is incredibly strong. It does not stretch or snap, and improves tensile strength in other materials.
  • Availability – Asbestos became incredibly popular due to its availability. Mining asbestos ore was easy.
  • Economical – Asbestos is very cost-effective. It is common, lightweight, and easy to use and ship.  It became popular due to the value extended all the way to consumers.

Many people don’t realize that there is more than one type of asbestos.  Researchers have identified two groups – one with serpentine fibers, and the other with amphibole fibers. These can be broken down and categorized as white, brown, or blue.

asbestos claims

The different types of asbestos were used for different purposes, and each have unique health hazards.

History of Asbestos Use

Asbestos is a material that has existed for centuries.  Archeologists have found evidence of asbestos in items dating back 8,000 years.  Ancient civilizations discovered that asbestos fibers improved products and reduced flammability.  Asbestos fibers were used to make weapons, household items, and even burial shrouds.

But it didn’t take long for the material to be deemed dangerous.  Historical reports document Pliny the Elder of Rome observing that slaves were dying due to lung issues.  Here in the United States, asbestos has been used widely since the 1800’s.  During the Industrial Revolution, raw asbestos became incredibly popular, and over the next century would be used to manufacture more than 3,000 products.

During World War II, asbestos use increased even more, as the product was inexpensive and multi-purpose.  Construction and shipbuilding accounted for more than half of all asbestos use.  Shipbuilders, in particular, used asbestos often to insulate ships, reduce flammability, and stabilize objects exposed to saltwater.  Shipbuilders were exposed to the fibers in products, and via airborne particles.  By the 1930’s, tens of thousands of shipbuilders, sailors, and dock workers had been exposed to the hazardous material, leaving little surprise that asbestos claims would follow years later.

The rise in injury and illness related to asbestos-containing products eventually led to the material being phased out by the 1980’s.  Sadly, millions of people had already been exposed to the potential carcinogen, and thousands had reported illness.  Even today, asbestos is still found in many homes, products, ships, and manufactured goods.  This is why asbestos claims continue to be filed each year by the thousands.

What are the Dangers of Asbestos?

We often hear that asbestos is dangerous, or that there are many asbestos claims related to illnesses or injury.  Sadly, most people don’t really know what the dangers are.  The most common health conditions associated with asbestos exposure include:

  • Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure. When asbestos becomes airborne, the particles can be inhaled into the lungs, and may move on to the esophagus or stomach.  These particles settle in body tissue and linings, causing irritation and scar tissue to form.  Asbestos may also cause tissue cells to mutate into mesothelioma cells, which grow and divide quickly, taking over healthy tissue with cancerous clumps.
  • Asbestosis – Asbestosis is a chronic inflammation of the lungs caused by scar tissue development. Asbestosis causes cough, wheezing, and chest pain.  It often advances to mesothelioma.
  • Pleural Effusion – Pleural effusion occurs when fluid accumulates in the area surrounding the lungs. This limits breathing and can cause discomfort.
  • Pleural Plaque – When particles settle and cause buildup of collagen on the membrane surrounding the lungs, it is called pleural plaque.
  • Pneumothorax – When free air collects in the chest cavity, it is called a pneumothorax. This condition often leads to lung collapse, and can be deadly.

Most of these conditions are diagnosed in older individuals who worked directly with products containing asbestos years earlier.  Mesothelioma is by far the most common health hazard related to asbestos exposure.  It is also the most dangerous.

asbestos claims

Here are some alarming facts about mesothelioma:

  • In most cases, symptoms of mesothelioma do not appear until 10-50 years after initial exposure.
  • Around 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year.
  • The prognosis for someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is 6-12 months.
  • Only 33 percent of mesothelioma patients live longer than one year after diagnosis.
  • The prognosis for mesothelioma is poor. Conventional treatments often are unsuccessful.
  • Since 1929, almost one million asbestos claims have been filed, including the more than 121,000 claims included in MDL 875.
  • Most asbestos claims and mesothelioma lawsuits are filed against companies that knew asbestos was dangerous, but failed to inform employees that there was a risk. These defendants commonly include:
    • Shipbuilders
    • Shipowners
    • Mining companies
    • Construction companies

As these facts show, asbestos claims commonly publicized on television are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Millions of lives have been impacted by the decision of companies to use a product that has been known to be hazardous for decades, if not centuries.

Learn More about Asbestos Claims and Your Rights

If you worked as a shipbuilder, sailor, or dock worker and have developed an illness due to exposure to asbestos, you may be one of thousands of people entitled to compensation.  Even decades later, you have the right to speak up and protect your legal rights.

There is no excuse for companies acting negligently by using products that are known to cause harm without warning employees.  If this happened to you, learn more about asbestos claims and whether you qualify to enter ongoing litigation.  Contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with a maritime injury attorney about your legal rights.  Fill out our online contact form to get started.

 

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Cruise Passengers Injured in ‘Sudden Extreme Gust of Wind’

Maritime Injury Guide has discussed weather-related dangers for maritime workers, including hypothermia and changing weather conditions.  Now, with several cruise passengers injured after a sudden gust of wind caused the ship to list, we want to discuss how weather conditions could impact passengers and crew onboard cruise ships.

Planning to take a cruise this summer?  Consider how changing weather and other variables could impact your plans.

Several Cruise Passengers Injured when Ship Listed

The cruise ship Norwegian Escape was heading from New York to the Bahamas early in March 2019, with around 4,200 passengers and 1,700 crew members.  The ship was headed to a port of call in Port Canaveral, Florida when on March 3rd, a sudden and extreme gust of wind hit the ship, causing it to tilt to one side.  Cruise officials estimated the wind gust to be around 100 knots, or 115 miles per hour.

The 20-deck ship titled far enough for the life rafts on the low side to become submerged.  Passengers on the 10th and 12th floors reported their balconies touching the water.  Crew members and passengers reported objects throughout the ship sliding, falling, or breaking.  Ship equipment and personal belongings were among the property damaged.

Cruise Passenger Injuries Reported

Among the cruise passengers injured is a woman who fell out of her bed during the tilt, causing a back injury.  Another woman was injured when a lotto machine fell on top of her.  Officials have confirmed that eight passengers were transferred to local hospitals, and others were being treated by the ship’s medical staff.

Passengers who did not suffer physical injuries may be traumatized after this event as well.  Several passengers reported panic setting in as they watched the water come closer to their windows.  Others describe the sounds of children crying in fear as they held on to their beds and each other during the ordeal.

The ship was reportedly not damaged in the incident, and was fully operational when it reached Port Canaveral.  Inside the ship, however, was another story as tables, chairs, and equipment all slid to one side of the ship causing extensive damage.

Safety Procedures for Cruise Ships During Bad Weather

Cruise lines are aware that bad weather can have a devastating impact on their passengers, crew, and ships.  Sudden changes in weather conditions can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, and cruise lines have safety procedures to prevent this from happening.  Unfortunately, like the incident described above, some weather changes cannot be predicted in time to take precautions.

cruise passengers injured

Generally, if cruise staff becomes aware of a storm or changes in the weather that could impact passenger safety, certain precautions will be taken.  Safety procedures on cruise ships include:

  • Closing Open Decks – When wind or surf picks up, it can be dangerous to be out in the open. Port and starboard side decks are the most dangerous in high winds, and cruise staff will rope off these areas during bad weather.  Top decks may also be completely closed, or certain activities only, depending on the weather condition.
  • Closing Pools – When weather causes the ship to rock, pools will be covered with nets to prevent passengers from swimming. While some people may find the waves in the pool tempting, it is dangerous and can cause injuries due to the unpredictable rocking.
  • Preparing for Sickness – Bad weather often causes passengers to become “seasick”. Cruise staff are prepared, and when bad weather hits, they provide guests with seasick bags.
  • Stabilizers – Most modern cruise ships are equipped with stabilizers. Stabilizers emerge from the hull of the ship on  both sides.  They protrude out from the ship, and provide stabilization for the ship in waves or high winds.
  • Store and Hold – Cruise ships have many activities, shops, and restaurants. When bad weather is predicted, the captain may instruct shops and restaurants to lock down merchandise, table items, or displays that are breakable.  Stowing away glass items, such as liquor bottles, displays, and glasses reduces the risk of injury to passengers and crew.
  • Outfit Clinics – If bad weather is predicted, cruise officials may instruct ships to outfit their clinics with additional staff. Cruise passengers injured or ill as a result of bad weather can get treatment in the on-board clinics.

Taking safety precautions is incredibly important.  Cruise officials and staff have a responsibility to make sure that passengers are kept safe during emergencies, including bad weather conditions.  When safety procedures are not properly followed, the cruise line may have breached its duty of care to passengers.  Cruise passengers injured due to improperly secured ships should contact a maritime injury attorney to find out if they qualify for compensation.

How Changing Weather Impacts Cruise Passengers

After planning and paying for a cruise, the last thing you want is for your adventure to be ruined by bad weather.  Here are a few ways that changing weather can impact cruise passengers during their trip, and after.

Changing Plans

One of the biggest ways that changing weather impacts cruise passengers is by changing plans.  Wind, surf, and rain conditions can impact activities like boating, snorkeling, bicycle riding, or helicopter rides – all common at ports and destinations.

High or low water levels can impact inland or river boating trips.  Wind and surf can impact small vessels that transport passengers between the cruise ship and the port, which is common in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and parts of Europe.

Changing Itinerary

Cruise ships often navigate around storms or bad weather, which can change the itinerary.  Sometimes that means getting to a port sooner, and other times that means skipping a port altogether.  Depending on the dangers, the captain may decide to spend more time at sea, and cruise into port after the danger has passed.  If it looks like a storm is a continuing threat, a new destination is likely.

Cancellations

Cancellations are rare among cruise lines, but are not unheard of.  Cancelled cruises can be frustrating for passengers, and may cost them some or all of their reservation fees.  Most often, if you request to cancel, you will lose your reservation fees or a percentage of your total ticket price.  If the cruise line cancels, then you most likely will receive a full refund.

Cancelled plans may mean rescheduling time off from work, or cancelling summer vacation altogether.

Ultimately, bad weather can impact passengers in various ways.  Financial frustration, mental stress, and physical injuries are all risks.

Information for Cruise Passengers Injured by Bad Weather

According to cruise ship statistics, since 2005, more than 440 major cruise ship accidents have been reported.  These accidents resulted in 16 deaths between 2005 and 2011, and hundreds of injuries.  Accidents commonly leading to injuries include:

  • Falling overboard
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Impact with objects (such as during tilting or listing)
  • Outbreaks of illness

Current statistics do not breakdown how many of these accidents were caused by bad weather. Nonetheless, it is safe to assume that at least some of them were weather-related.  No matter what the cause of your injury was, if you were injured while on a cruise ship, contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with a maritime injury attorney.

Schedule a free consultation to find out if your injuries could have been prevented, and if you may be entitled to compensation.  Contact Maritime Injury Guide by calling 1-877-363-6148, or fill out our online contact form.

 

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Cruise Injury Results in Lawsuit against Royal Caribbean

Every year, millions of people board cruise ships in search of adventure and relaxation.  Most people never imagine that they could suffer a cruise injury that not only ruins their vacation, but also could impact their entire life.  That is certainly the case for a 26-year-old Washington man who is recovering from a cruise injury he suffered while enjoying one of the many on-board activities.

Cruise Injury Lawsuit Information

26-year-old Casey Holladay was planning to enjoy a weekend cruise to the Bahamas in February 2019, when the unthinkable happened.  He was a passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s “Mariner of the Seas”, and was decided to try out the “Sky Pad” activity.  The Sky Pad is a bungee trampoline activity that is new to Royal Caribbean’s ships.  It includes a large trampoline and a dome, where the cables are attached.

In a video sent to ABC News, you can clearly see Holladay doing flips and enjoying the activity.  Just moments later, the video shows one strap snapping, then the other, and then Holladay disappears from view.  He plummeted more than 20 feet to the deck below, landing on the hard decking, rather than the trampoline.

The impact shattered his pubis, which is located inside the pelvic wall.  He also suffered from bruised ribs and a dislocated shoulder.  Holladay was placed in the ship’s medical facility while the ship returned to port in Miami.  He was then transferred to a Trauma Center, where he stayed for the next 10 days.

Holladay has now filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean alleging that the company failed to operate the Sky Pad activity safely.  The lawsuit notes that there was no safety net or padding on the deck below the attraction.

Holladay continues to battle limited mobility, and has had substantial surgery to repair his pelvic area.  He has numerous screws and plates installed, and is considered disabled.  The orthopedic injuries were significant enough that doctors warn he will likely require a lifetime of ongoing care, including possible hip replacements in the future.

The lawsuit is seeking $75,000 in compensatory damages and an unidentified amount in punitive damages.  Royal Caribbean has not commented on the lawsuit, but issued a statement that “We operate all our ships safely, professionally, and responsibly”.

Pelvic Injuries Have Life-Long Impact on Victims

For accident victims like Holladay, a cruise injury costs much more than the immediate physical pain.  Pelvic injuries often have a long-term, or life-long impact on the victim.  The pelvic bone serves as protection for internal organs like the bladder, bowels, and sexual organs.  It also protects major blood vessels and nerves leading to the legs.

The pelvis is comprised of three joints – the pubis, and two sacroiliac joints.  When these joints are disrupted by fractures or shatter injuries, the integrity of the entire pelvic area is compromised.  Surgery is required to stabilize the pelvis and ensure that all three joints are in their proper position.

cruise injury

Recovering from a Pelvic Injury

Most pelvic injuries require a series of treatments and ongoing recovery.  Patients will often find that they have limited mobility and cannot put weight on their legs for eight weeks or longer.  During this time, a wheelchair or crutches are required.  Once the initial injury is healed, patients often require physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Patients will work with therapists to improve strength and mobility, address weight-bearing issues, and initiate blood clot prevention strategies.  As long as treatment is initiated properly and the patient does not develop complications, pelvic injuries most often heal without incident.  The recovery process can take anywhere from three months or longer, depending on the severity of the injury.

Pelvic injuries can cause problems along the way, and patients should be careful to report any side effects or complications to their healthcare provider.  Serious pelvic injuries like the cruise injury suffered by Holladay, can lead to long-term complications and risks, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Bladder or bowel problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Damaged blood vessels
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Need for additional surgeries

Serious pelvic injuries can be life-threatening, and patients who have a pelvic injury should report any symptoms associated with these conditions as soon as possible.

Cruise Injury Statistics

Cruise injury statistics show that a wide array of accidents and incidents can cause injury to those onboard.  From 2005 to 2011, around 100 million people boarded cruise ships.  Since 2005, at least 448 major accidents have been reported, which resulted in:

  • 16 deaths
  • 300 reports of a passenger falling overboard
  • 66 ships ran aground
  • 72 reports of sexual assault

Any of these incidents could result in a cruise injury.  Further, in addition to accidents, cruise ship passengers also face the risk of illnesses, which are a common cause of cruise injury.  In 2010 and 2011, there were at least 14 gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on cruise ships.  That number rose to 16 outbreaks in 2012.

Norovirus is one of the leading causes of cruise ship illnesses.  It is estimated that more than 56,000 people are hospitalized each year in the U.S.  due to Norovirus.

Cruise Ship Accidents and Your Legal Rights

No matter how much we would like to believe that accidents and injuries won’t affect us on vacation, for thousands of people each year, that is exactly what happens.  Not all accidents on cruise ships are devastating or result in life-altering injuries, but even minor injuries can have a profound impact on those involved.

Some accidents are purely that, and cannot be avoided no matter how careful we are.  However, in the case of a cruise injury like what Mr.  Holladay suffered, the accident may have been preventable.  If the court determines that the cruise ship staff did not properly and safely operate and maintain the Sky Pad activity, then Royal Caribbean may be held liable for Mr.  Holladay’s injuries, expenses, and other financial losses.

If you have been injured while on a cruise ship, and you believe that your injury was the result of negligence, contact a maritime injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.  At Maritime Injury Guide, we can help you explore your situation and determine if you have a case.  Our injury consultations are always free.  Fill out our online form to get started.

 

 

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Cruise Ship Safety Statistics

Taking a cruise may seem like the adventure of a lifetime, but here are some cruise ship safety statistics and information that consumers should know before deciding to embark.  These statistics and information could be helpful for consumers who are concerned about cruise ship safety and want to ensure that their adventure doesn’t turn into a disaster.

Cruise Ship Safety Information

Cruise ship operation and safety is overseen by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United States Coast Guard, and the companies operating the ships.  Unfortunately, these organizations have not implemented a comprehensive, consistent database documenting incidents or accidents occurring at sea.  For consumers, that means there is no public database to review cruise ship safety or incidents.

While there are safety guidelines and regulations for cruise ship operators, for many years, there has been little consistent and systematic gathering of data to explore cruise ship safety and accidents.  Another problem with obtaining accurate safety statistics is the fact that cruise lines are essentially outsourced.  Most ships are incorporated and registered overseas, which means there is little oversight beyond the state under which the ship is operated.

While organizations and regulatory agencies may not operate a comprehensive database, there are other sources focused on gathering information and providing the public with much-needed information about safety.

If you are concerned about your safety, take the time to do some research before deciding to take a cruise trip.  If you want to learn more about how accidents at sea are managed, or what you should do if you have been injured while on a cruise, contact Maritime Injury Guide.  Our maritime injury attorneys can help ensure your legal rights are protected.

Cruise Ship Safety Statistics

Gathering research and reports from the U.S.  Department of Transportation (DOT), National Geographic, BBC, and cruisejunkie.com, here are some of the statistics that consumers should know before buying those cruise tickets:

  • According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), between 2005 and 2011, there were 100 million passengers on cruise ships.
  • Since 2005, there have been 448 major cruise ship accidents reported.
  • Between 2005 and 2011, 16 people died in cruise ship accidents.
  • Since 2000, around 300 people on cruise ships have fallen overboard. There were 17 overboard incidents in 2017 alone.
  • Between 1979 and 2013, 55 cruise vessels sank, with 15 of those occurring between 2010 and 2013.
  • From 1972 to 2011, 98 cruise ships ran aground. Between 2005 and 2013, 66 passenger ships reportedly ran aground.
  • In 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, there were around 100 serious crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The most common crime was sexual assault, of which there were 72 incidents reported over that 15-month period.

Not only are accidents like those above a concern, but so are illnesses, which can quickly spread and contaminate thousands of people.  Consider these statistics about illnesses on cruise ships:

  • Between 2010 and 2011, there were 14 outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses on cruise ships.
  • In 2012, there were 16 gastrointestinal illness outbreaks.
  • In 2013, there were nine outbreaks.
  • Norovirus is considered the most likely cause of illness on cruise ships. Every year in the U.S., there are an estimated 19-21 million cases causing over 56,000 hospitalizations.

Cruise Ship Safety Concerns

Based on research and reports that are available, here are some of the most common cruise ship safety concerns:

  • Loss of power resulting in being adrift at sea
  • Evacuation due to fire, collision, sinking, or other incidents
  • Fire (there were around 79 fires on cruise ships between 1990 and 2011)
  • Plumbing issues (overflowing toilets, etc.)
  • Spread of viruses, such as norovirus.
  • Improper sanitation
  • Running aground
  • Sinking
  • Crime

These are some of the causes of cruise ship accidents that have made national headlines, such as:

  • Costa Concordia: In 2012, the Costa Concordia ship sank after running aground near Tuscany. The cruise ship – incredible in size and amenities – was carrying 4,200 people including passengers and crew.  After running aground, the ship began to sink, causing those onboard to flee.  The accident resulted in 32 deaths and numerous injuries, not to mention the mental and emotional trauma suffered by everyone involved.  The Costa Concordia is the largest cruise ship ever to wreck.
  • Triumph: In 2013, a fire in the Triumph’s engine room shut down power, sewage, and air conditioning systems throughout the ship. The fire left the 4,200 passengers essentially stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for days.  Passengers were forced to endure few food options, raw sewage seeping through the ship, and delays in rescue.
  • Pacific Dawn: In April 2018, a passenger on board the P&O Pacific Dawn fell overboard west of New Caledonia. The crew immediately initiated a “man overboard” protocol, and turned the ship around.  Nearby vessels responded and aided in the search for the woman, but she was never found.  Weather conditions were poor with strong winds and 3-4 meter swells.
  • Explorer of the Seas: In 2014, around 600 people became ill with a severe gastrointestinal illness. So many people were sick that the cruise returned to port early.
  • Emerald Princess: Around five percent of all passengers came down with what was dubbed a “gastrointestinal flu”. These individuals were quarantined, and were warned of “unnamed consequences” if they tried to leave their rooms.  Hardly the dream vacation.

Protect Your Rights on Cruise Ship Voyages

Whether you are an employee, crew member, or passenger of a cruise ship, you deserve a safe and healthy environment.  If you have been injured or become ill while on a cruise ship and you believe that negligence contributed to the harm you suffered, it is important to learn more about your options.  At Maritime Injury Guide, we can help you understand your legal rights as an employee, or as a passenger.  Fill out our online form to schedule a free injury consultation.

Sources:

  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/cruise-overboard-safety-travel-spd/
  • https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-12/woman-overboard-vanuatu-pacific-dawn-cruise-ship-search-underway/9649162
  • https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140128-cruise-ship-royal-caribbean-nation-health-science-virus/
  • https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/05/costa-concordia-sinking-scandal-italy
  • https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=240
  • https://theweek.com/articles/467569/7-reasons-never-ever-ever-vacation-cruise-ship
  • https://www.transportation.gov/mission/safety/cruise-line-incident-reports
  • http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20120127-travelwise-what-is-the-safest-mode-of-travel
  • http://cruisejunkie.com/

Just How Dangerous are Oil Derricks for Workers?

The oil and gas industries are considered among the most dangerous professions.  And while there are many dangers involved in these industries, we want to focus this article on the question of “just how dangerous are oil derricks for workers?” What are the unique hazards of working on an oil derrick, and how can workers prepare or prevent injuries? Let’s take a closer look.

Just How Dangerous are Oil Derricks for Workers?

Year after year, the oil and gas industry continues to prove to be incredibly dangerous.  According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workers in the oil and gas industry are six times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than workers in “average” jobs.

In 2008, 120 workers were killed in these industries.  In 2014, 101 workers were killed.  Most years on record have similar data, with some significant incidents causing hundreds of injuries or deaths on their own, such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The majority of fatalities on oil derricks in 2014 occurred in Texas, with a reported 44 percent of fatal injuries occurring here.  Other states reporting significant injuries and fatalities include Oklahoma and North Dakota.  The most common causes of death were attributed to:

  • Falling objects
  • Material handling – using a forklift, crane, or winch
  • Moving rigging up or down
  • Laying down or picking up tubulars

While these were the primary causes of death in 2014 accidents, there are many other dangers that come with working on an oil derrick.

Why are Oil Derricks so Dangerous?

In considering the question “how dangerous are oil derricks for workers” we need to look at the dangers themselves – not just the number of injuries or deaths.  Some of the most notable reasons why oil derricks are dangerous include the following:

Fire

Petroleum is a highly flammable substance, and combined with the various chemicals used for oil drilling, fire is a significant risk.  According to the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around seven percent of all oil worker fatalities between 2003 and 2006 were attributed to fire.  Oil drilling often requires chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, which can build up pressure and cause explosions.  Various chemicals used for cleaning, lubricating parts, or operating machinery can also increase fire risk.

Falls

According to the CDC, another seven percent of worker fatalities between 2003 and 2006 were caused by falls from “higher to lower levels”.  In the same study, the CDC reported that 22 percent of worker fatalities could be contributed to falling objects, such as tools or equipment.

Equipment and Machinery

On oil derricks, there are many machines and a lot of equipment.  Drills, cranes, forklifts, and other machines are heavy, noisy, and dangerous if they are not properly maintained and inspected.  Between 2003 and 2006, six percent of oil worker deaths were caused by crush injuries.  Workers can easily become trapped, entangled, or in the path of moving machinery.  The noise of these machines can also post a unique danger in that workers cannot adequately communicate with one another.

Fatigue

Most workers on oil derricks work 12-hour shifts, which is difficult in the best of circumstances.  In the case of oil derricks, workers have to deal with a variety of unique circumstances that make a 12-hour shift particularly dangerous.  A few examples include:

  • Working with heavy equipment
  • Working around combustible materials
  • Exposure to weather conditions
  • Being isolated on offshore rigs

Transportation

Transportation to and from oil derricks or fields can also be dangerous for workers.  In fact, some reports suggest that transportation-related accidents may be the leading cause of death among oil and gas industry workers.  Workers who are fatigued are often required to drive long distances to wherever they may be staying.  After 7-14 days of 12-hour shifts, this drive can be particularly dangerous.

Another transportation concern is the fact that offshore workers often must rely on helicopters to get them to and from the oil derrick.  Helicopter malfunctions, improperly maintained helicopters, or flying in poor weather conditions can all contribute to crashes.

Reducing the Dangers of Oil Derricks for Workers

With such a broad range of dangers, is there any way to prevent or reduce the dangers of oil derricks for workers? There are some strategies that could prove useful in preventing injuries and deaths, which boil down to improved workplace safety policies and procedures.  Consider the following prevention strategies:

  • Improved Safety Policies – Companies can prevent accidents and injuries on their oil derricks by providing more oversight of the facilities, conducting tougher inspections, and making safety requirements more strict.
  • Training and Equipment – It is also important that companies adequately train their workers and provide them with proper safety equipment for the job. Going above and beyond the basic safety standards can improve the workplace environment and improve safety.
  • Implementation of Existing Regulations – It is not uncommon for oil and gas companies to fall under the umbrella of government regulations, but choose not to follow them as strictly as they should. According to a CDC report in 2016, in 86 percent of fall-related deaths reviewed, proper protection was not used, or was improperly used, or equipment failed.  These deaths might have been prevented had regulations been followed.

Protecting the Legal Rights of Oil and Gas Industry Workers

If you work in the oil and gas industry and have been injured on-the-job, you likely have many questions about how to get compensation for your injuries.  Workers commonly have questions about workers’ compensation, disability, lost wages, and personal injury laws and processes.

To find out more about the dangers of oil derricks for workers or how you can protect your rights, contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with one of our maritime injury attorneys.  Fill out our online form and our staff will be in touch shortly to schedule your free consultation.

 

Sources:

  • https://work.chron.com/dangers-onshore-oil-rig-23643.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2017-193/2017-193.pdf

Oil Rig Dangers: Work-Related Injuries and Safety

 

Are Oil Drilling Accidents Becoming More Common?

The oil and gas industry is known for being hazardous, but some sources suggest that oil drilling accidents are becoming more common.  According to the US Energy Information Administration, forecasts for 2018 suggests that crude oil production will average 10.7 million barrels per day (bpd), up from four million bpd 10 years ago.  Those numbers are estimated to increase further in the upcoming few years.

As crude oil production has increased, so have the number of oil drilling accidents.  These accidents have a devastating impact on the victims and their loved ones, shareholders, and the industry as a whole.  For several years, researchers and investigative reporters have chronicled the increase in accidents.  Let’s take a look at some of this information about the increase in oil drilling accidents, as well as relevant example cases.

If you have questions about a specific work-related injury, contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with one of our maritime injury attorneys.

Oil Drilling Accidents Becoming More Common

In 2014, the Houston Chronicle published an investigation titled “Drilling Boom, Deadly Legacy“.  This story focused on how an industry that built prosperity for so many has also built a legacy for death and injuries.  In 2012, accidents and injuries in the oil and gas industry hit a 10-year high, with 65 deaths occurring in 2012 alone.  That number was 60 percent higher than the previous year.

According to the U.S.  Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2007 and 2012, 663 workers died while working in oil-related industries, including oil drilling and fracking.  Around 40 percent of those workers died in Texas.

What may come as a surprise to many readers is the fact that onshore drilling operations seem to be more dangerous than offshore drilling operations.  According to data from OSHA:

  • The federal government has had 22 years of failing to implement safety standards and protocols for onshore oil and gas drilling.
  • Even major incidents like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have only resulted in more strict regulations for offshore drilling, but have not included regulations for onshore drilling operations.
  • OSHA is only required to investigate accidents that cause hospitalization of three or more workers, or death of one or more workers. That has resulted in about 150 of 18,000 work-related injuries or illnesses being investigated.
  • Of the accidents that OSHA did investigate, 78 percent included safety violations.

Oil Drilling Accident Example Cases

“Bogie Pad” Failure Case

In August 2018, the family of one oil rig worker filed a lawsuit in Harris County for $150 million.  The lawsuit named Occidental Petroleum, Helmerich & Payne, and AIP as defendants in the case, which stemmed from an accident on a land-based oil rig.  According to reports, the accident occurred in January 2018, when the worker was struck on the head by a 30-pound object that fell over 100 feet before hitting the man.

The object, known as a “bogie pad”, was not properly secured, and it was determined that the bolts designed to secure it were either damaged or missing.  The lawsuit further states that the design itself was dangerous, and that workers had used the wrong materials to operate and maintain the bogie pad.

The worker who was struck on the head suffered severe brain damage and was in a coma for several weeks.  He is now permanent disabled and will require ongoing medical treatment and assistance with care and supervision for the rest of his life.

Explosion Claims Multiple Lives

In July 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Patterson-UTI Drilling, Crescent Consulting, and Skyline Directional Drilling after an explosion on an oil drilling rig in Oklahoma killed five workers.  The companies were cited for failure to maintain proper controls, failure to inspect slow descent devices, and failure to implement emergency response plans.  All three were cited for failure to ensure that heat lamps used were approved for hazardous locations.

In this case, the three companies were facing penalties of just over $118,000.  Media sources have identified that the penalties are virtually “negligible” for companies with resources like these, especially in light of the violations and loss of life.

Will Oil Drilling Accidents Continue to Increase?

There are a few reasons why investigators and researchers believe that oil drilling accidents may continue to increase.  First, crude oil production in the U.S.  is slated to rise in upcoming years.  Second, regulatory oversight has been a contentious element among U.S.  government officials, including the President.

In the past year alone, regulations have not been implemented to keep up with the increase in lease sales and drilling.  Further, government officials have pushed for less strict financial penalties for violating rules.  In July 2018, the Trump Administration took further steps that could inhibit independent oversight of nuclear facilities.  That action caused many to fear what the future holds for hazardous industries like the oil and gas and power industries.

According to Robert Alvarez, who was influential in developing the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, “we shouldn’t have to wait for something to blow up or catch fire in order to pay attention to a safety problem”.  With oil drilling accidents and deaths on the rise, Mr.  Alvarez makes a strong point.  It’s time for officials to look hard at safety policies, regulation, and oversight, and ensure that workers are protected.

Learn More about Oil Drilling Accidents and Your Rights

If you or someone you love has been injured while working in the maritime industry, including oil and gas related jobs, there may be several options for compensation that could help cover medical and other expenses.  Your options will depend largely on your job title and description, any contracts, and the details of the accident or injuries suffered.

To find out more about your legal rights and what you may have, contact Maritime Injury Guide for a free consultation with one of our skilled maritime injury attorneys.  Fill out our online form to get started.

 

Sources:

  • https://www.equities.com/news/oil-drillers-facing-increase-in-accidents-and-potential-liability
  • https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/special-reports/article/Houston-Chronicle-exclusive-Drilling-boom-5259311.php

How To File A Maritime Injury Lawsuit

If you work in the maritime industry, the Jones Act and  Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) help protect you and preserve your rights and livelihood if you are injured on-the-job. When injuries occur, it is important that you know how to file a maritime injury lawsuit, and what your rights and responsibilities are.

How to File a Maritime Injury Lawsuit

Before you make the decision to file a maritime injury lawsuit, you should consult an attorney who can help determine which laws apply to you, and how best to proceed with your injury case. A general overview of the process of filing a maritime injury lawsuit may consist of the following:

  • Preparing Your Case: The first step in filing any lawsuit is preparing your case. Your attorney will gather information from you and other sources, and will research applicable laws in order to draft the complaint, also called a petition. These documents, known as “pleadings”, are what gets filed with the Clerk of Court to initiate a legal claim.
  • Summons: After the court has filed the pleadings, a summons will be issued to notify the named defendants that they are being sued. The summons and a copy of the complaint or petition are delivered to the defendant by a third party, or via the mail.
  • Legal Process: After filing pleadings and notifying the defendant, the legal process will continue with a series of answers, requests for information (called interrogatories), filing of motions and additional documents, and communications between applicable parties. This process can be lengthy, but it is important that you have patience and work closely with your attorney to keep momentum going.
  • Resolution: The next step in the maritime injury lawsuit process is pursuing resolution, or recovery. Most maritime injury cases are resolved through settlements, but some do proceed to trial. If you win your lawsuit, resolution may include compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and other losses if applicable. There is not a “cookie-cutter” process or resolution for injury cases, and what you can expect here will depend on your case.

Understand Your Legal Rights

Understanding how to file a maritime injury lawsuit can be complicated. Fortunately, you are not alone. If you have questions about your rights or legal options, visit our contact form. Our team will review your information and contact you to schedule your no-obligation consultation. Follow this link to learn more about maritime attorneys.

Sources:

Offshore Injury Lawsuit

https://attorneypages.com/hot/filing-maritime-lawsuit.htm

Maritime Injury Highlights Cruise Ship Floor Safety

We have all heard of the dangers of slip-and-fall accidents, but what happens when there is a slip but no fall or vice versa? Or better yet, when the no-slip flooring works too well and causes a maritime injury? These are questions readers may be asking after learning about a cruise ship cornhole injury that is highlighting the issue of cruise ship floor safety.

Let’s take a look at the cornhole injury case, as well as cruise ship floor safety.  If you have been injured while a passenger onboard a cruise ship, contact our maritime injury attorneys to learn more about your legal rights. Learn more about maritime attorneys.

Cornhole Injury Case Information

A passenger onboard the dinner cruise “Spirit of Norfolk” is suing the owners after he reportedly suffered an injury while playing the game cornhole.  According to reports, in June 2016, the 66-year old man fell and was injured while in a part of the ship used to play cornhole.  The man alleges that the no-slip flooring resulted in his being unable to properly shift his weight while attempting to throw a beanbag.  The injuries he sustained have not been identified.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal Court, reportedly seeks around $375,000 in damages.  The Virginia-based owners deny that their flooring presented a risk to passengers.

Damages Sought in Maritime Injury Cases

When a personal injury lawsuit is filed, the case generally details the damages being sought.  In the cornhole injury case, the damages sought have not been specified.  In general, in maritime personal injury cases where a cruise ship owner or operator is found to be liable, damages awarded to the victim may include:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Non-economic damages (pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, loss of enjoyment, mental anguish, etc.)
  • Interest that could have been, but was not earned, due to the injury

The damages that can be sought in any maritime personal injury case are unique to the individual facts and details of the case.  Any time you suffer an injury due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, it is advisable to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your individual situation.

Remember, just because you suffered an injury does not mean you are guaranteed compensation.  It is your burden to prove that the owner or operator were negligent, and that said negligence caused your injuries.  For questions about maritime injury laws, contact Maritime Injury Guide to speak with one of our personal injury and maritime personal injury attorneys.

Case Highlights Cruise Ship Floor Safety

Slip-and-fall and other floor safety-related accidents are among the most common accidents cited in maritime injury cases.  There are policies and regulations relating to floor safety and ensuring that ship surfaces stay dry and free from hazards.  Safety regulations are governed by the U.S.  Coast Guard, but unfortunately, there is a lot of inconsistency between laws and regulations.

In a case where there the no-slip surface is allegedly the cause of the injury, we must consider what the law says about liability.  In general, cruise ship owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that the ship is safe.  The owner or operator is liable for injuries occurring on the ship if a “reasonably careful ship operator” knew, or should have known, about something that could cause an injury.  Some of the most common cases where liability has been easily proven include when a passenger:

  • Slipped on a wet floor or surface
  • Tripped over a threshold (doorway)
  • Tripped on bunched carpet
  • Tripped on uneven flooring
  • Stumbled or fell down a stairway
  • Fell over a handrail
  • Fell overboard

These are just a few examples of situations that may cause a passenger to be injured.

Information about Maritime Injury Lawsuits

If you have been injured while on a cruise ship, it is best to contact a maritime injury attorney before taking any action of your own.  Maritime law can be complicated, and there are several steps to the process, beginning with determining if you are able to file a lawsuit at all.  Consider the following:

  • Check the fine print on your cruise ticket or passenger information. The Terms and Conditions of your ticket and purchase may include specific instructions related to injuries or lawsuits.
  • Some cruise lines require disputes be settled in a certain manner (arbitration or mediation), rather than in court. The terms may also include specific instructions for which jurisdiction cases must be brought in.
  • Every state has a statute of limitations for filing lawsuits in personal injury cases. Check with your state to see how long you have to file a lawsuit.
  • Collect all documentation of the accident and injuries you suffered, including medical summaries, billing statements, insurance documents, photographs, and any reports made by the cruise line. These will be valuable in proving your case.

In order to “win” any form of personal injury case, the victim must be able to prove that negligence was the cause of the accident and injuries.  That does not mean that the owner or operator has to knowingly do something dangerous.  Negligence includes acts and omissions – regardless of will or intent.

Proving negligence and establishing your losses can be a daunting process.  To schedule your free consultation, fill out our online form or call us toll free at 1-877-363-6148.

 

Sources:

  • https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2018/07/11/lawsuit-cruise-ship-cornhole-injury/775749002/
  • https://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2018/07/cruise-ship-sued-for-no-slip-flooring-injury.html
  • https://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2015/06/can-i-sue-a-cruise-line-for-an-injury.html
  • https://www.injuryattorneyfla.com/cruise-ship-staircase-accident-attorneys.html

 

What Does Maritime Law Say about Recent Duck Boat Accident?

Millions of people around the world have seen headlines about the duck boat that capsized on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.  With 17 deaths and numerous injuries, headlines now question – “what does maritime law say about the duck boat accident?” Could the victims and their loved ones pursue compensation? Let’s review the boat accident and take a look at what maritime law has to say.

If you have questions about maritime law, or have been injured in a boat accident as a passenger or employee of a maritime vessel, contact us today. Maritime law is a specific area of personal injury law, and you deserve to know what your individual situation could mean for your chances of pursuing compensation.

Missouri Duck Boat Accident Information

Table Rock Lake is located near Branson, MO – a popular vacation spot only 200 miles from Kansas City.  One of the most popular attractions at Table Rock Lake is the “Ride the Ducks” boat ride.  On Thursday July 19, 2018 dozens of people boarded the duck boats for what should have been a fun adventure.  For the 31 people onboard one boat, however, it became a nightmare.

According to reports, a storm hit the area and caused high winds and massive waves to develop.  Two duck boats full of passengers attempted to navigate back to shore, but only one made it.  One of the boats took on water and eventually capsized.  17 people died in the boat accident and numerous others were injured.

Following the accident, investigators enlisted the help of a barge crane, water pumps, and divers to retrieve the duck boat from the bottom of the lake.  According to reports, the boat came to rest on the bottom of the lake, under about 80 feet of water.

The ages of the individuals who died in the accident range from one to 76.  Several families onboard together lost loved ones.  One survivor has recounted the ordeal, including the deaths of three children and her husband who were with her when the accident occurred.  According to a witness, when her husband’s body was found, he had all three children with him.

Investigating Deadly Boat Capsize

Like most accidents of this proportion, the investigation into this duck boat capsize will likely take some time.  There are numerous factors that investigators must consider as they reconstruct the boat and the events leading up to it sinking.  Some of these issues include:

  • When did the captain know about the weather forecast and severe storm warning?
  • When did the captain decide to alter the planned route, and what led to that decision?
  • What actions did the crew take during the storm to prevent injuries?
  • Could life jackets have made a difference?
  • Did the crew have access to weather reports onboard?
  • Did the design of the boat canopy make it difficult for passengers to escape from underneath?

Law enforcement reported that none of the people who died were wearing life jackets when their bodies were found.  Officials stated that life jackets were on the boat, but passengers were not required to wear them.

Another factor that investigators are looking into is the design, structure, and operation of the boat itself.  Rather than the exhaust being emitted from the back of the boat, beyond the passenger compartment, the exhaust was emitting from the front of the boat.  According to the Department of Transportation, such an issue would not pass regulations.

The mechanical inspector further noted that with the exhaust system in the front of the boat, as the unusually high waves hit the boat, water would be pushed up into the exhaust system, potentially causing the engine to be disrupted or eventually fail altogether.

Are Duck Boats Really Safe?

Duck boats are unique, as they are made as replicas of the amphibious vehicles used during World War II.  They have wheels for land use, and can be driven into the water as a water craft.  Because they are both land and water vehicles, they are regulated by two agencies – the Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation.  Both agencies have regulations, but unfortunately, regulations and consistency between the two agencies are often “disconnected” when it comes to the duck boats.

Over the past few decades, many engineers and boat designers have augmented the original design of the duck boat.  Of particular note is the fact that the owner of the Ride the Ducks boats used on Table Rock Lake altered the design in the 1980’s, and the boats were “stretched” by 15 inches by the 1990’s.  Media sources have noted that the individual who designed the stretched model does not have education or experience in engineering or mechanics.  His redesign of the boats was based on personal experience with mechanics.

The boat that capsized on Table Rock Lake recently was one of the newer designs.  Investigators will work to determine if the design of the boat was a factor in the capsizing and sinking.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is considering the design and previous concerns about safety, and has specifically identified this boat as a “stretch” model.

Maritime Law Considerations

Following the duck boat accident, a popular online news source published an article about the nuances of maritime law and what legal issues the victims and their loved ones face.  The article mentions that the victims and survivors could potentially be entitled to millions of dollars, or simply a piece of the shipwreck.  What the victims and their families may be entitled to depends on several factors that will be investigated, and must be proven if a lawsuit is filed.

The owner of the duck boat may attempt to claim limited liability for the accident, which could limit the ability of victims to obtain compensation from him or her.  Limited liability may be established if:

  • The owner of the duck boat can prove that the vessel was completely seaworthy as established by law
  • The owner had no way or reason for knowing that the storm was a danger

The limited liability may be broken if the victims can prove that:

  • The vessel was not seaworthy
  • The owner or operator did not do their due diligence
  • That the owner or operator was negligent in maintaining the safety of the vessel

Part of establishing duty, liability, and damages will depend on the individual facts of your case, as well as applicable laws.  In most vessel sinking cases, the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act allow victims and their loved ones to pursue compensation.

To learn more about your legal rights and what options you may have, follow this link to learn more about maritime injury attorneys.  Fill out our online form to schedule your free injury consultation.

 

Sources:

  • https://www.businessinsider.com/victims-of-capsized-missouri-boat-entitled-to-millions-or-just-debris-2018-7
  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/07/26/self-taught-businessman-with-no-engineering-credentials-designed-missouri-duck-boat-records-say/?utm_term=.1b9bc51716df

$20.3 Million Awarded in Crush Maritime Personal Injury Lawsuit

A former Royal Caribbean employee was recently awarded $20.3 million in a crush maritime personal injury lawsuit.  The crush maritime personal injury, which took place in 2008, occurred during a routine fire safety drill.  The injury was catastrophic damage to the woman’s hand.  Read on to learn more about the lawsuit, the dangers of crush injuries on cruise ships, and how you can protect yourself.

Crush Injury Lawsuit Information

While in port in 2008, the Royal Caribbean ship Voyager of the Seas underwent a routine fire safety drill.  A nurse onboard was unaware of the drill and as she attempted to pass through one of the semi-water tight doors, she tripped and fell.  The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who worked as a marketing manager, saw the nurse fall and lunged to help her.

The plaintiff grabbed the door handle to keep the door open long enough for the nurse to right herself and pass through.  As she did, the door lurched back into position in the recess in the wall, crushing the plaintiff’s hand into a space only large enough for a pencil.  The bridge was notified and an attempt was made to disable the door.  Unfortunately, the tremendous force on the door caused the woman’s hand to be sucked into the recessed pocket three more times.

The force of the crush maritime personal injury resulted in a broken middle and index finger, and the fingernails on both fingers were torn off the cuticles.  Following the injury, the woman was referred to a doctor in Barcelona (the ship was docked in Spain).  The doctor splinted her fingers in the improper position and misdiagnosed her condition.  For two years following the injury, the woman attended therapy.  She was subsequently diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome related to a nervous system malfunction.  She suffers from severe pain running from her head to her other arm.  She has lost mobility and proper use of her right hand.

Two years later, in 2010, the woman was discharged from Royal Caribbean who cited her inability to perform necessary safety tasks, which require the ability to lift 50 pounds.  In 2016, the woman filed a lawsuit claiming that the staff was not properly trained to operate the dangerous doors, and that Royal Caribbean was negligent in failing to provide proper medical care, discharging her for non-performance reasons, and breaching their contract with her.

In June 2018, a court ordered Royal Caribbean to pay the woman $20.3 million in damages, which included lost wages, medical expenses, and future medical expenses.  Royal Caribbean is planning to appeal the decision.

Anyone who has been injured while working on a cruise ship should contact an attorney right away to discuss their legal rights.

A String of Similar Crush Injuries Caused by Powerful Doors?

Attorneys in the above case hope that this substantial award will highlight the dangers of hydraulic and automated doors on cruise ships.  This case is not the first case against Royal Caribbean alleging hand injuries caused by the same type of door.  Between 2004 and 2007, 12 Royal Caribbean employees sustained hand injuries when the same type of door slid into the recessed pocket.

Royal Caribbean is not the only cruise line that has seen its share of crush injuries.  In 2001, an engineer officer on a P&O Princess Cruises ship suffered a severe crush injury to his arm after it became trapped in a power-operated watertight door.  The injuries were so severe that his arm had to be amputated.  In 2002, a subcontractor was killed when a watertight door with only an eight second closing time squeezed him to death.

In 2017, a chief engineer on a small passenger ship was killed after becoming trapped in a hydraulic watertight door.  He was trapped in the door for at least eight minutes before being found.  The pressure was estimated to be around 1,650 kg.  The speed of closing for the doors was found to be twice what is allowed by regulations.

Crush Injuries on Offshore Units Caused by Doors

There have also been several similar injuries reported on offshore units.  In 2001, a subcontractor on the Deepwater Nautilus died after being jammed in a hydraulic door.  His body was obstructing the operating lever.  In order to free his body, the door had to be forced open after the hydraulic pipes were disconnected.

Also in 2001, a worker suffered a severe crush injury to his chest when a hydraulic door closed on him.  He was able to activate the operating lever before losing consciousness and open the door.  The door was found to close too fast, and it was suggested that lights designed to signal workers that the door was closing may not have been operating properly.

In 2003 a crew member on the West Alpha drilling rig suffered serious injuries after a hydraulic door closed on him as he walked through it.  Regulations suggest closing time for such doors to be between 20 and 40 seconds, but in this case, the door closed in only four seconds.

In 2005, a worker on the offshore installation Kristin was killed when a watertight door closed on him.  Investigators suggest that a broken spring caused the door to close unexpectedly when it should have been in the open position.

Why are Doors so Dangerous?

Hydraulic and automated watertight and semi-water tight doors are dangerous for several reasons.  Consider the following:

  • Watertight doors often have different modes, such as “local control” or “remote”. These different modes determine who has control over the doors and how they are open or closed.
  • During safety drills, these doors may be set to automatically close. If those onboard are not properly trained, accidents and injuries can easily occur.
  • On offshore units, hydraulic doors are numerous, with some units having in excess of 48 or more of these doors. Workers may become too comfortable with the doors and controls, which can lead to lax attention to safety.
  • Many of the injuries described in this article suggest that ship operators are not following regulations in terms of how fast the doors open or close. Doors that open or close too fast can be hazardous to anyone passing through them.
  • Power fluctuations or loss can affect hydraulic doors. Further, some doors are set to continue operating on hydraulics for a certain number of openings or closings even after power has been cut.

What to Do after a Crush Maritime Personal Injury

If you have suffered a crush maritime personal injury while working on a ship, it is important to take steps to protect your health, and your legal rights.  Maritime personal injury cases are often complicated by statutes of limitations, applicable laws based on your position, and any contracts or agreements you may have with your employer. Learn more about Maritime Attorneys.

To find out more about protecting your rights and the possibility of getting compensation for your injuries, fill out our online form and schedule a free crush maritime personal injury consultation with one of our attorneys.

Sources:

  • http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/tourism-cruises/article212495699.html
  • https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/547c710ee5274a42900000ff/royal-princess.pdf
  • https://www.marineinsight.com/case-studies/watertight-door-fatality/
  • http://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/20651844/injuries-and-deaths-caused-by-watertight-doors