Archive for October, 2010

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Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer: Information On The Cruise Ship Sexual Assault Law

October 30, 2010

Vacationing on a cruise recently got safer for many women. In 2009, after victims advocacy groups lobbied Congress to pass better laws regarding the significant problem of sexual assaults on cruise ships, Congress enacted the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. Although it is hard to believe, prior to the passage of this Act, women who were sexually assaulted while on a cruise were not provided with any significant medical attention while on board the ship. Also prior to this Act, cruise ships did not carry forensic kits, so it was difficult to preserve forensic evidence, making it much less likely that the responsible party would be caught and brought to justice.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act requires that cruise ships provide women who claim they have been the victim of a sexual assault while on the ship with access to national sexual assault hotlines. The victims are also now entitled to medications that can help to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and are entitled to a sexual assault forensic exam. In addition, it is now mandatory for cruise ships to install both security latches and peep holes on cabin doors to make them more safe and secure. Furthermore, the cruise lines must also now report any sexual assault incidents to the FBI.

Keep in mind while on your cruise – you need to be as aware of your surroundings on a ship as you would if you were in a big city:

  • Avoid walking down darkened hallways alone.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Never agree to go to the crew only section of the ship!
  • The senior crew is there to increase the safety of passengers and to help keep them from suffering a sexual assault or a cruise ship injury, but they can’t cover the entire ship at one time so take the necessary steps and watch out for your own safety.
  • Listen to your gut – if it tells you something is wrong, it probably is.
  • Notify the Purser’s Office as soon as you suspect trouble.

Hopefully, your cruise vacation will be wonderful and will be all that you’d hoped it would be, but if you suffer a cruise ship injury or a sexual assault, contact a cruise ship accident attorney as soon as possible. Attorneys who specialize in cruise ship injury cases should be experienced with both State and Federal laws that may apply to your accident claim.  Cruise ship accident claims, whether occurring on-board, or during an on-shore excursion, can be governed by State, Federal or Maritime laws and it is critical to identify which laws control your accident case.  One important distinction for cruise ship accident claims involves the Statute of Limitations for on-board accident claims.  Most Cruise Ship companies have a clause in the terms and condtions of its ticket which requires an accident claim to be brought within one year of the date of the accident, and in a specific court.  For instance, Carnival Cruise Lines requires claims for on-board accidents to be brought in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Miami).

For more information about your cruise ship injury or sexual assault claim, contact cruise ship accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today. Mr. Maus provides a free, no obligation consultation to answer your questions as to whether you have a claim against your cruise line. He is an experienced cruise ship injury claims lawyer who has handled thousands of claims ranging from sexual assault, slip and trip and falls, cruise ship viruses and violations of safety and cleanliness standards, injuries during onshore excursions, and many other types of claims which are related to cruise ships.   His office handles claims on a contingent basis which means there are no attorney’s fees charged unless a recovery is made on your behalf. Mr. Maus is licensed to practice throughout the State of Florida, in the Southern and Middle Districts of the United States District Court, is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court, and is an “AV” rated by Martindale Hubbell, the highest legal ability rating awarded, and the highest ethical rating awarded to attorneys.

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Cruise Ship Passenger Safety Tips

October 29, 2010

It seems almost weekly we hear about a cruise ship scandal involving a missing passenger, crew member accident or other strange story.  Perhaps this increase in maritime cruise incidents led to the passage of The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, signed this summer by President Obama.  The new Act requires cruise lines to improve their onboard safety measures and to report any suspicious or dangerous activities such as passengers vanishing, crew members going overboard, suicides, murders, and sexual assaults.

Cruise vessels are often foreign-flagged from countries like Liberia and Panama which affects the laws they have to follow if a crime occurs.  In addition, filing lawsuits is also much more restricted for cruise ship passenger injury cases.  Most American passengers have to bring their cases in Miami, Florida courts, forced into a venue not of their choosing.  In addition to the venue issue, these cases have drastically shortened notice and filing requirements.  Read your ticket carefully.

About 12 million North Americans set sail on a cruise this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.  Cruise companies are required to report serious incidents involving Americans to the FBI and Coast Guard.  The FBI opened 184 cases on crimes that occurred aboard cruise ships between 2002 and 2007.

Sexual assaults on cruse ships have been heavily reported in the news.  Sexual and other physical assaults were the leading crimes committed onboard cruise ships in recent years, according to the FBI.  The rate of sexual assault on cruise ships is almost twice the U.S. rate of forcible rape, according to at least one cruise industry expert.

Readily available alcohol and a partying mentality on the vessels can change the mindset of travelers who are out for a good time.  Of the attacks investigated by the FBI, a majority involved alcohol.  The number of attacks on ships is probably higher than reported, because rape victims are afraid to come forward with their attackers nearby on the ship.  FBI statistics show that in nearly half of the incidents, a crew member is the suspect.

In addition to physical violence, cruise ship passengers need to watch out for illnesses.  Stomach ailments spread quickly and easily in close quarters like a cruise ship.  Norwalk virus is a stomach sickness occurring on cruise ships.  You can reduce your potential exposure to stomach bugs by washing your hands frequently, washing all produce before eating it, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you touch.

For all onboard accidents and health issues, be prepared for inadequate medical care.  Ship doctors are usually not U.S.-trained or licensed and the shipboard supplies are not that great.  A cruise line won’t assume liability for the medical care you receive onboard so taking out travel insurance is recommended by experts.

 

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I-595 Accidents On The Rise

October 28, 2010

Since construction began on I-595 in Ft. Lauderdale on February 26, 2010, there has been a 10 percent increase in car accidents on the 10.5 mile stretch of the only east to west expressway in Broward county. A report by the Sun-Sentinel states that in the past six months, 272 car accidents have been reported, including three major accidents in the past four weeks alone. A major accident on Friday caused westbound I-595 to be shut down for nearly three hours.

This is expected to continue until 2014 as construction in the area is causing narrow lanes, little or no shoulders and changing traffic patterns. Although the changes are going to provide express lanes, crisscrossing ramps, and new outside lanes to ease merging, one can’t help but wonder how many car accidents in Ft. Lauderdale, Davie, Weston and Plantation this $1 billion dollar project will cause.

Drivers feel that since the lanes have shifted it has become increasingly difficult to stay in your lane and to keep track of where the lane is going. To make matters worse, with no shoulders, accidents that occur block the road, causing a severe impact on the already gruesome traffic. For instance, the 3 vehicle accident which occurred this past Friday resulted in a second accident involving 5 vehicles who were attempting to avoid the first crash.

Although traffic accidents will eventually ease on I-595, driving during the next few years could be extremely dangerous. To avoid car accidents Florida Auto Accident Attorney Joseph Maus recommends drivers should exercise caution when driving through the construction sites over the next few years.

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Woman Receives $125000 Settlement for Cruise Ship Injury

October 27, 2010

A 67-year-old woman said she had hoped her first vacation on a cruise ship would be smooth sailing.

But Elizabeth Reimer, who lives in Texas, said things turned turbulent when she took a misstep while boarding a Carnival Cruise ship that sailed out of the Texas coast.

She reached a settlement with the Miami-based company on Thursday, but Reimer wishes the cruise ship accident had not occurred in the first place.

In April, she got on the Carnival Conquest cruise ship, which sailed to the Grand Cayman Island. The ships in Grand Cayman must stay anchored off shore, Carnival said in a statement. Passengers need to board a small tender boat to get to the dock. They are operated by another company. As Elizabeth exited the tender, she fell. Her leg was caught between the boat and the dock.

Reimer fell as she was exiting a small tender boat. It became a trip she’d never forget because, she says, she was left to fend for herself.

“The boat fell away from the dock and it was an open place, and I could see the water as my leg went down,” said Reimer, describing how, she says, she almost drowned. “It has made me have nightmares about falling into this void that I can’t get out of and drowning.”

“When they said, it’s just bruised, just walk it off, I thought maybe I could walk it off,” she said.

She couldn’t. Her lower leg, her tibia, was fractured.

“I wanted only to get back in the bed and not hurt anymore,” said Reimer.

She spent the rest of the cruise in a wheelchair.

Attorney Joseph Maus says people might be surprise to know that if they’re injured on a cruise ship, they need to work quickly.

“People have only one year to file a suit, which is three years less than if you fall anywhere else,” said Maus.

On Thursday, Carnival settled with Elizabeth for $125,000. Elizabeth says she wishes she wouldn’t have taken the cruise at all.

Maus wants to remind people that there are main things to consider before filing suit against the cruise ship company after a cruise ship accident. There are limitations to where a suit can be filed as listed on the cruise ticket. There are also limitations to the time in which you have to file suit. If you or someone you know has been injured it is best to consult with an attorney immediately.

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Biktoberfest Accidents Leaves Pregnant Woman Dead and Three Injured

October 20, 2010

A car accident involving a 27 year old man who was drinking and driving leaves a 22 year old pregnant woman dead and several others injured during the annual motorcycle festival in Daytona Beach. The Sun-Sentinel reports that a Jeep Cherokee driven by Joshua Blades crossed into the path of three motorcycles Friday night, causing the deadly accident and then fleeing the scene.

All the passengers were thrown from the motorcycles, and though they were all wearing full face helmets and jackets, they sustained serious injuries. Reports state that there was a police officer about 300 feet east of the intersection who witnessed the accident. A second officer was able to catch the driver a few minutes later. The report states that Blades left the scene of the accident because he was drinking while on probation, and he feared someone was dead.

A second motorcycle accident was reported Saturday, and a man is now critical condition after sustaining head injuries.

Biketoberfest draws about 500,000 people each year, but sadly it often involves serious motorcycle accidents. In 2006, 6 deaths were reported.

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Auto/Bicycle Safety Tips From a Top Fort Lauderdale Accident Lawyer

October 19, 2010

Several recent South Florida accidents underscore the need for both bicyclists and drivers to follow
motor vehicle laws and
bicycling safety regulations. In North Lauderdale, two boys riding bikes on Tam O’Shanter Boulevard near Rock Island Road were struck by a motorist. According to police, one boy was towing the other boy who
was also riding a bike, when they were struck. Both boys were taken to the hospital with non-life-treating injuries. In a second accident, a Boynton Beach man was not so lucky. He was riding a motorized three-wheel bicycle when he was struck: he later died from his injuries.

Many people are not aware that bicycles are classed as vehicles and riders are considered drivers. As such, Fort Lauderdale accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus says that Florida Statutes require bicyclists to follow the same rules of the road as the drivers of cars, trucks, and motorcycles. In addition, there are specific regulations that apply to bikes, such as the requirement that, if being ridden at night, bicycles must have a front light that can be seen for 500 feet and a rear light that can be seen from 600 feet away. Furthermore, Florida law requires bicyclists under 16 years of age to wear a properly fitted helmet that meets nationally recognized standards when riding: the helmet increases cycling safety and helps make cyclists more visible to drivers.

The Fort Lauderdale accident lawyer notes that there are simple steps that can be taken by both motorists and cyclists to help increase cycling safety:

  • Teach children that bicyclists must obey the traffic controls and signals just as motorists do.
  • Drivers should not follow a cyclist too closely and should move over, if possible, to give the rider room.
  • Tape emergency information (contact information, medical conditions, etc) inside the brim of the bicyclist’s helmet in case the unthinkable happens.
  • Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic (with traffic).
  • Drivers should be watching the bicyclist as they approach them, in case the bicycler falls or swerves unexpectedly. This isn’t the time to look away from the road to change a radio station or reach for something on the seat beside you!
  • Bicyclists can not lawfully wear a headset, headphone or other listening device while riding.
  • Drivers must use their turn signal during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
  • Did you know that you can get a DUI while cycling if you ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? You can, because, as mentioned before, bicycles are classed as vehicles and riders are classed as drivers.

The most important safety tip this Fort Lauderdale accident lawyer gives is that it is extremely important to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, especially for children. The cyclist’s head is hit in 38 percent of accidents and head injuries account for more than 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths. In addition, it is estimated that between 45 to 88 percent of a bicyclist’s brain injuries can be prevented just by wearing a helmet. Children don’t always think of safety first, so it is important to start them out right when they learn how to ride a bike: require them wear a helmet at all times while riding.

For more information, contact Fort Lauderdale accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.

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Costa Classica cruise ship involved in accident with cargo ship

October 19, 2010

News agencies are reporting the Costa Classica, a cruise ship with a 1,308 passenger capacity, was involved in a collision with a Belgian flagged cargo vessel. If the reports are accurate, this would be the second time in a few years the Classica has collided with another ship. In 2008, it was reported the Costa Classica had a collision with the MSC Poesia when the Classica was sitting at anchor.

The Classica was built in 1991 and is one of the older ship in the Costa fleet. The ship is 723 feet long, has 654 cabins onboard, and carries a crew of 590 members. A photograph being posted by Eastbay.com shows an approximate 60 foot gash down the starboard side of the ship, resulting from the accident.

Costa Classica Accident

News reports also indicate that several passengers reported to the infirmary for injuries suffered during the cruise accident. At least three passengers were taken ashore for further medical treatment. The accident occurred at the mouth of the Yangtze River on the Classica’s return to Shanghai.

Cruise ship accident attorney Joseph M. Maus says that passengers injured during the Classica accident need to be aware of ticket limitations contained in their ticket contract. These limitations include where and when a claim for injuries resulting from the Classica accident can be brought.

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