Maritime Accidents

In the high seas, many incidents can and do go wrong aboard a cruise ships, watercrafts, or other admiralty vessels. Given the nature of ocean and waterway travel, historical and contemporary legal proceedings in the United States treat cases of involving questions or locations of admiralty or maritime law as separate forms of civil or criminal matters, usually under federal jurisdiction.

For those considering legal action following a maritime accident, it is important to discern your status as an individual under admiralty law, usually either as employed by the vessel or a private party passenger on the vessel. At this juncture, differing federal statutes on resolving maritime accident personal injury claims take effect, with passenger claims incurring a three (3) year statute of limitations from the date of any maritime accident before the legal right to file suit expires. Moreover, maritime accidents not involving injury are much more common than those involving bodily injury or death, and as such, those most common maritime accidents or incidents leading to maritime accidents claims include claims relating to property damage and vessel ownership disputes.

Common Causes of Maritime Accidents that Vessel Owners Are Legally Obligated to Prevent

  • Generally maritime or admiralty claims stem from any situation in which the equipment on board or the vessel itself has become unseaworthy, or in short, the vessel is unfit for its intended use at sea.
  • Another common cause for a maritime or admiralty claim also includes negligence on part of the owner.
  • Negligence on part of the marine vessel owners typically manifests as one of the following situations exhibiting itself as the proximate cause of damages in maritime accidents claims, including lack of appropriate equipment, unsafe working conditions, safety statues and standards, inadequate training have been provided or appropriate training has not been provided, lack of necessary safety measures, failure to provide the necessary safety equipment in light of an accident, or an inability to provide medical treatment in the aftermath of an accident
  • Additionally, there are potential injury hazards that are result of poor upkeep or negligent design. Many of these kinds of incidents or accidents deal with wet or slippery surfaces, toxic chemicals, moving, swinging or falling objects, faulty electrical devices or wiring as well as injuries that occur because of poorly ventilation or sanitization of enclosed spaces.
  • Catastrophic and potentially preventable incidents such as fires, collisions and groundings have all been known to lead to possible injury or death. Fires in particular are becoming more of a frequent occurrence, particularly in the cruise line industry. Fires often occur due to a lack of upkeep or regularly scheduled maintenance when it comes to the ship or vessel’s hazard equipment
  • Maritime accidents involving vessel collisions on the other hand are rare in this day and age due to the many technological advances with ship navigation. But, nevertheless collisions still happen on occasion. Moreover, when ships or vessels do collide, the ensuing damages typically entail extensive property damage and liability for maritime passenger injury claims
  • Lastly, groundings, which tend to occur somewhat frequently, involves a vessel running aground, typically causing significant movement to the ship and its passengers, leading to both hull damages most likely and the strong possibility of collision trauma and whiplash injuries in maritime workers and vessel passengers 

The Maritime Accidents Laws to Know

Typically, injury claims that occur on or near a vessel in navigable waters are governed by maritime or admiralty law. Maritime law has special provisions and laws in place to ensure the vessel owner’s obligations to the crew, employees and passengers are upheld. General maritime law principles, the Jones Act, the Death on High Seas Act, and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act were all enacted to uphold a standard of safety and seaworthiness as well as to hold the necessary parties accountable in the legal system should the duties owed to seamen, passengers, and other vessels be violated by maritime vessel operators.

Resources:

https://www.osha.gov/dts/maritime/sltc/ships/

http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/court-role-and-structure