Falls - Onboard
The veteran boating injury lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, know onboard falls are some of the most common injuries sustained by those at sea.
The very nature of a vessel at sea poses a high fall risk: There is the constant motion of the waves, slick surfaces, heavy machinery, equipment, steps and stairs. A slip and fall in a maritime environment can result in serious injury or death, even if the victim never falls into the water.
Many times, these incidents are preventable with proper safety precautions. Too often, vessels and docks are poorly maintained or equipment that is not properly secured. If injury results from these conditions, there may be grounds for bringing a negligence lawsuit to secure monetary damages.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) indicated that of 736 reportable accidents in 2013, falls in boat were cited as the primary type of accident in 23 cases. It was cited in 64 cases as a secondary type of accident.
Some of the common causes of onboard slip-and-fall accidents in Florida include:
- Wet or slick surfaces
- Surfaces that are unsteady
- Lack of non-skid surfaces
- Loose cargo
- Loose lines
- Equipment not appropriately secured
- Hazards that are unmarked or poorly marked (lack of safety guards, improper angle of stairways, etc.)
- Improper storage of equipment (e.g. fishing nets, ladders)
- Insufficient traffic control
- Lack of proper training and safety procedures
Even though many of these conditions are relatively simple to address, many charter companies, cruise lines and boat owners place pocketbooks before people, and attempt to cut corners when it comes to safety. The results can be devastating.
Our experienced boat accident lawyers are committed to furthering your best interests by pursuing fair compensation for your onboard fall injury.
Some of the most commonly-cited injuries resulting from onboard falls include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Shoulder damage
- Neck injuries
- Eye damage
- Broken bones
- Knee injuries
- Sprains and strains of wrists and ankles
Many slip-and-fall claims stem from onboard injuries occurring on commercial cruise lines. Generally, these fall under the umbrella of premises liability law, which holds business owners to a high standard to protect those onboard from unreasonable risk of injury.
A number of recent federal cases out of Florida have been successful in this regard.
One of those, Kaba v. Carnival Corporation, tried in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, resulted in an award of $3 million for a woman injured when she slipped and fell on the deck circling the cruise ship pool.
According to court records, the fall happened in 2009, when a passenger slipped on a resin-like surface that was slick. The cruise line reportedly had prior notice of accidents caused by this type of slippery surface, but did nothing to address it.
Another recent complaint was brought in Florida after a cruise ship operator failed to properly assist a woman from a tender to a dock, causing her to fall back into the tender, resulting in permanent bodily injury and handicap.
Other common areas for slip-and-falls to occur on board include bathrooms, stairways, gangways and dining rooms, which are all prone to have wet or slick surfaces.
Cruise lines as well as charter boat companies have a duty to keep areas of the vessel free of fall hazards, and to tell passengers and employees when potentially dangerous conditions exist.Falls Onboard Smaller Boats
Just because the onboard fall did not occur on a major cruise liner or fishing charter does not mean it will not be compensable.
This is particularly true if the operator of the boat is careless in operation of the vessel, hitting a wave too hard or traveling too fast without warning passengers. In some instances, the operator of the vessel that created the wake could be held negligent, particularly if it violates a boating safety rule (such as a creating wake in a “No Wake” zone).
Given the most common onboard injuries are falls, and especially in smaller boats, it’s important to recognize the risks and minimize the danger by wearing a life vest, not standing up or moving about when in motion and following the directions of the captain.
Even in cases where your actions may have contributed to the onboard fall, compensation may still be attainable.
Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.