Boating, Watercraft and Watersport Accidents

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Boating, Watercraft and Watersport Accidents

Florida boasts approximately 663 beaches, over 1,100 miles of coastline, and nearly 1 million registered vessels and watercraft. Hundreds of businesses and clubs are set up to rent boats, personal watercraft, provide watersports activities and there is very little regulation governing how they operate and what instructions they give. In the parasailing industry for example, despite the presence of a law on the books, it does not require vendors and operators to inspect their equipment, notwithstanding the fact that equipment failure is the causal factor in the majority of the reported accidents to date. As consumers and tourists, we believe that because it is offered or available, it must be safe. This simply is not so and potentially catastrophic for the unwary consumer and any innocent victims that consumer injures engaging in boating and water-sports without the proper training, credentials, equipment and experience.

Jeannete Lewis has over 25 years of experience in litigating boating, watercraft and watersport accident cases in Florida and internationally for the purpose ofhelping victims obtain the compensation they deserve, which includes medical bills, pain and suffering, specialized equipment, lost wages, physical therapy, and lost earning potential.

Cruise Ship Accidents

Many people take vacations on cruise ships and while on the cruise engage in a multitude of exciting on-shore excursions.While, countless accidents occur on the cruise ships themselves, such has slips or trips and falls, outbreaks of food poisoning, medical negligence, defective gym equipment or spa services, rapes, etc., still more occur while engaging in the off-shore excursions offered by the cruise line, such as helicopter tours, horse riding, and zip lining. As a passenger you trust that the cruise line has done their due diligence before directing you to a particular shore vendor and that they already have made sure that vendor employs properly trained individuals, does things safely, has a good record and liability insurance. Unfortunately, this is not always so, and many times passengers are shocked to find out that by merely accepting their cruise ship ticket, they have waived any right to sue the cruise line for the shore vendor’s negligence.

Even further, the passenger tickets almost always contain land mines buried deep within the passenger ticket about which unsuspecting consumers do not realize or know, until it is too late. Nearly all cruise lines’ tickets contain a much shorter mandatory time frame within which a lawsuit may be filed, dictate a single venue or location where your lawsuit must be brought, (and many times it is thousands of miles away from where the passenger lives), and also contain a very short period of time within which the passenger must notify the cruise line of a claim in writing in order to be able even to file their lawsuit. Last but not least, in cases wherein death occurs while the ship is on the “high seas” outside the territorial waters of the United States, Federal Law known as the Death on the High Seas Act, severely limits what damages, if any, you may recover. Cruise vacations are meant to and can be very relaxing and fun-filled. Doing your homework and informing yourself ahead of time will make for a safe and fulfilling experience.

If you or your loved one was injured while at sea, or while boating or engaging in watersports domestically or in another country, Jeannete Lewis has the experience and would like to help you and your family obtain the compensation you deserve.

Notable cases include:

Walker v. Wedge Hotel Management (Bahamas) Ltd., – $1.8 Million – Verdict (S.D. Florida)
Tosha Walker and friends were on a cruise that stopped in Nassau, Bahamas. While there they went to the public beach adjacent to one of the hotels where they were approached by a parasail vendor whom they paid to go parasailing. Unbeknownst to Tosha and her friends, the equipment and specifically, the polypropylene rope that connected the 32’ parasail to the boat, was worn, compromised by hours in the salt water, and had not been inspected. Despite looming storm clouds, the vendor sent Tosha and a friend up, tandem. The winds picked up and the rope broke. Tosha and her friend were carried further out by the wind as they fell to the ocean waters below. Tosha, who was not taught how to release the harness was dragged under water and drowned. We sued the hotel that controlled the vendor’s activities on the beach for Tosha’s wrongful death and a jury agreed that the hotel, by virtue of its control over the vehdor, and who profited from the vendor’s activities thereon, was responsible for the vendor, Sea & Ski’s negligence. Other issues in the case were which law was to govern the liability of the defendant and the damages recoverable by Tosha’s Mom who lived in North Carolina.

Lum and Mendoza v. Carnival Cruise Line – Confidential Settlement
Mr. Lum and Mr. Mondoza were two unrelated passengers on board the Carnival Jubilee when a foodborne outbreak of Norwalk virus occurred. During the cruise several passengers became ill. Mr. Lum became so ill and vomited so much that he died due to bleeding from a perforated esophagus. Mr. Mondoza suffered permanent gastrointestinal issues as a result of the virus. Suit was filed, and Carnival raised the Death on the High Sea Act as a defense to Mr. Lum’s death claim. The Act does not allow recovery for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering but allows only for the recovery of economic losses such as medical and funeral expenses and lost wages, hence its application would seriously diminish the value of the Lum Plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff, through expert testimony proffered that Mr. Lum ingested the contaminated food while the ship was still in port in the United States territorial waters as opposed to the “high seas” to which DOHSA applies. Plaintiff also argued, again using expert testimony, that Mr. Lum ultimately died while the ship was within three miles of a rock that Mexico declared to belong to Mexico and hence, was within the territorial waters of Mexico, not on the “high seas.”