Truck drivers are asked to drive hundreds of miles in a single day, make their deliveries on time, and take their pay by the mile – so is it any surprise that fatigue is a constant concern?
But just how much of a concern it is depends on who is doing the talking. Safety researchers believe fatigue is the single greatest hazard that truck drivers face, while some trucking groups claim it’s practically irrelevant. Of course, what matters is what the federal regulators believe, but even they may not have an accurate picture of the situation.
In short, fatigue is a difficult to assess issue, but it is clear that tired drivers do cause accidents, and some of the worst in the industry.
Tired Drivers Are Accidents Waiting to Happen
Every year, 30,000 people die on U.S. roads, and commercial trucks are involved in one out of every seven of those deaths, or a little more than 4,000 annually. Commercial trucks are only involved in a small portion of vehicle accidents, but their much larger size makes them a major threat, even in low-speed crashes. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the primary regulatory agency in charge of the trucking industry, there were about 5.6 million vehicle accidents on U.S. roads in 2012, and only 333,000 involved commercial trucks, or about 6% of all crashes. But commercial vehicles are responsible for approximately 14% of all traffic accident deaths.
To what extent does fatigue play a part in this gruesome picture? Unfortunately, no one knows for sure, but several groups have put forth their best guesses. Remember, though, that some of these groups have a vested interest in defeating regulations that attempt to hold motor carriers to greater safety standards. That being said, here are several attempts to quantify the problem:
- In 1990, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reviewed 182 commercial truck accidents and determined that fatigue was a primary factor in 31% of the studied crashes. The sample size is small, but the study is believed to be a watershed moment for trucker fatigue, as other safety institutes, including the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, state that drivers are twice as likely to cause a crash if they are behind the wheel for more than eight hours at a time. Also, the National Sleep Foundation states that 37% of all U.S. adults are so tired on a daily basis that it interferes with their activities, which dovetails with the NTSB’s data.
- A 2006 data review by the FMCSA, using its Large Truck Crash Causation Study, determined that fatigue was the principal factor involved in 13% of all commercial vehicle crashes. This data is what the FMCSA and Department of Transportation use to build their safety regulations.
- The American Trucking Association (ATA), among the trucking groups that has fought fatigue regulations, claims that only 2% of truck accidents involve fatigue, citing a 2002 study authored by Kenneth Campbell and presented at the International Truck and Bus Safety Research and Policy Symposium. However, what the ATA usually doesn’t mention is that Campbell himself admits that his study’s methodology cannot accurately determine fatigue as a cause, and likely underestimates it as an extent.
- The ATA has since stated that it estimates the rate of accidents caused by fatigue to be around 7%, claiming that it uses federal data to come to that conclusion. However, given the ATA’s obvious conflict of interest and the FMCSA’s published federal data, it’s unclear just how trustworthy this estimate is.
These are only estimates, but the problem of fatigue in the truck cab is seen in some of the worst accidents that commercial drivers are involved in. In fact, experienced accident investigators can often tell when fatigue is present based on how the crash occurred. For example, an accident caused by fatigue typically looks like the following:
- A fatigued driver often suffers from “microsleeps” just prior to causing an accident. Microsleeping is when the brain effectively shuts down for several seconds at a time, unable to properly respond to external stimuli. Drivers in the middle of a microsleep behave similarly to drivers under the influence of alcohol, and may not notice road signs, lane markings, or even other vehicles. To illustrate how dangerous a microsleep is, in the five seconds that a driver may lose focus, their vehicle will have traveled more than the length of a football field.
- A fatigued driver usually does not apply the brakes before hitting an obstacle or vehicle, plowing into it at full speed.
- A fatigued driver may exit the road without inclement weather or other obstacles forcing them off the road.
- Fatigued drivers usually cannot point to weather or road conditions as a reason for their unsafe driving.
Investigators often point to fatigue when all other possibilities have been eliminated, and when no other explanation is easily available. For example, consider the 2010 truck crash in Oklahoma that killed 10 people. The truck driver, who suffered from sleep apnea, fell asleep at the wheel and smashed into a line of cars stopped on the highway. The driver did not respond until he had struck the line of vehicles, and his truck was not equipped with any warning system to alert him.
With so much at stake, most people would believe that motor carriers would do everything possible to avoid such outcomes, but if anything, many motor carriers are demonstrating the exact opposite behavior.
Motor Carriers Are Making the Problem Worse
Ask any motor carrier or company that employs a fleet of drivers and trucks, and they will claim they abide by all safety regulations. Those regulations include weekly driving limits and ensuring their drivers are given adequate rest. However, there is a pervading belief within the motor carrier industry that drivers alter their driving records to conform to any regulator inspections, and that their employers look the other way.
An investigative report aired on the TV show 20/20 in 2014 showed an example of how companies prod their drivers into taking dangerous risks. During the report, a driver with K&B informed several dispatchers within the company that he was too tired to drive safely after traveling 400 miles in the middle of the night to the first of two stops. At first, K&B dispatchers merely encouraged him to drink coffee and get back on the road, but after insisting on getting rest, the trucker was threatened with docked pay. According to the driver, this is a common occurrence he and others in the industry experience.
Part of the problem may be due to the extensive deregulation of the trucking industry, which reached its zenith in 1980, through the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. Among the many changes it brought to the industry, including reduced entry and price controls, the act eliminated the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was responsible for tightly regulating commercial trucking.
Now, consider the pressures placed on truck drivers:
- Drivers are almost always paid by the mile. This means that motor carriers are constantly pushing per mile wages down.
- As a result, drivers often work 60+ hours a week. This fact alone veers drivers close to the maximum driving limits allowed by the FMCSA’s safety regulations.
- Driver hours are not planned or scheduled with any consistency, so they may be required to drive at times when their fatigue is likely to peak.
- Drivers are only paid when they are moving, so when stopping to fuel or sleep, they are not earning wages.
- Drivers stopped in traffic or by poor weather are losing money, and they have to make up for it by spending more time behind the wheel or increasing their speed.
These problems are further exacerbated by the influx of motor carriers into the industry. The ATA states that in 1980, there were about 30,000 motor carriers in the U.S., but more than 500,000 just 20 years later. With so many companies in the field, it’s never been easier for motor carriers to put the pressure on drivers to accept lower wages and poorer working conditions.
What’s Being Done to Solve the Problem?
FMCSA safety regulations do provide a measure of safety to the industry, and the latest moderation of the regulations in 2013, which established an 11-hour daily limit behind the wheel, were estimated by the DoT to eliminate 1,400 truck crashes, 560 injuries, and about 20 deaths per year. However, these regulations are constantly being resisted by trucking groups, and in 2015, their lobbyists succeeded in getting parts of the FMCSA’s regulations suspended until further studies could confirm their efficacy.
Perhaps a more promising angle is the required adoption of electronic logging devices (ELD). In 2012, Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century bill, which among its many provisions was a call for the FMCSA to produce rules requiring the usage of ELDs. In December 2015, the FMCSA announced that all motor carriers must outfit their fleets with ELDs by December 2017, and those with devices already in place will have until December 2019 to verify they are within compliance standards.
ELDs are a major step forward for safety because they no longer allow drivers to alter their paper records and avoid scrutiny for driving while fatigued. ELDs are robust enough to do more than just log driving records, as they can track engine and brake performance, both of which can clue investigators in on whether a driver was fatigued prior to a crash. The first step to preventing fatigued driving is understanding the extent of it, and ELDs are an excellent tool in that regard.
ELDs may provide a way forward for the FMCSA to produce more precise and effective regulations, but whether it does or not, it will at least curb any attempts to suppress the issue of truckers and fatigue. And that will ensure drivers are sharper and more alert, and motor carriers safer.
Many people are injured every year due to another party’s negligence, which is why it’s important to understand which types of cases accident lawyers often help with. There are a variety of circumstances that can result in personal injury. Let’s examine some of the most common personal injury case types that experienced accident lawyers regularly encounter.
- Car Accidents: Many people go from point A to point B every day in vehicles, whether a sedan, truck, or bus. Many of these same people have witnessed an accident on the roadway. Unfortunately, car accidents are all too common today, and if the driver causing the wreck was negligent, a lawyer may be able to help.
- Product Liability: People use a variety of products in their daily lives, and each one of these items went through a stage of production and a period of distribution before arriving in the hands of a consumer. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line things can go wrong, whether by negligence or an attempt to cut costs, possibly later causing serious injury to the consumer.
- Medical Malpractice: An enormous amount of trust is placed in the hands of medical professionals, and that trust is generally well placed. However, now and then negligence can occur, potentially causing injury or death.
- Slip and Fall: Commercial and public spaces generally go to great efforts to keep walkways clear of obstructions and safe to traverse. Yet when this isn’t the case, innocent people can suffer unjustly. In a slip and fall case, like all of the above, getting the assistance of legal professionals can make all the difference in receiving the justice one deserves.
No game has ever captured the world like Pokemon Go. Why are so many people trying to catch them all? How can people stay safe while doing so?
Anyone who came of age in the 90s, or anyone who had a child who came of age in the 90s, probably remembers the world of Pokemon to some extent. The first games were released in the U.S. in 1998, the card game was released in 2000, and from there, the Pokemon phenomenon never let up. Pokemon Go is the newest entry into the franchise, and it may end up being its most memorable. Not only is it a massive success for Nintendo and Niantic (the game’s developer), Pokemon Go also confirms the power of augmented reality, which will likely become an increasing focus of game developers in the future.
But for those not familiar with augmented reality, what’s the big deal about Pokemon Go and its risks?
Augmented Reality: A New Way of Experiencing the World
Pokemon Go is largely successful due to the way it integrates a player’s surroundings with the game world. Augmented reality (AR) is nothing new, and in fact, it was invented in 1968. Back then, the technology was simple, requiring a full head-mounted display system, and only capable of producing wireframe drawings.
In 1998, AR was adapted for the NFL. Most people take the 1st and 10 yellow line that’s projected on the screen for granted, but the technology behind that humble line is based on improved AR methods. Before Sportvision offered the technology to the NFL, it was impossible to project informational markers on the screen during a live game.
Various gimmicks were coupled with AR in the early 2000s, and though it showed increasing promise in a number of fields, including the aerospace, film production and military equipment industries, it wasn’t until the late 2000s that game developers started taking advantage of it. And Pokemon Go is not the first game to reap a lot of success from AR. Niantic’s first AR game, Ingress, was also extremely successful, garnering 7,000,000 players at one point.
By all accounts, Pokemon Go has fully eclipsed Ingress in terms of popularity and profitability. Just three weeks after its release, the game had been downloaded more than 100 million times by Android and Apple users, according to an article in Engadget. And in that same article, Engadget also revealed that Pokemon Go makes about $10 million every day, and Nintendo’s valuation following the release of the game spiked up $11 billion before settling in at about $5.5 billion higher than its previous valuation.
To AR enthusiasts, Pokemon Go represents a watershed moment.
Pokemon Go: Combining Novelty and Nostalgia
Niantic’s hit title brings more than modern AR methods to the table, though. Pokemon is still a recognizable trend for millennials (those aged between 18 and 34)– 83% of players are part of the millennial generation, according to a marketing survey by MFour. In fact, more millennials recognize Pikachu, the game’s mouse-like mascot, than Vice President Joe Biden, which was revealed in a poll taken by Morning Consult. These millennials grew up with Pokemon, Pikachu, and a plethora of related products and merchandise. Various media reporting on the game has determined that millennials are drawn to the game for the nostalgia and socializing it offers.
But how does the game work?
Player avatars are represented in a game world that is mapped on top of the player’s surroundings. The game keeps track of the player through their phone’s onboard GPS, so when they move around in real life, their avatar moves in the game world accordingly. So, instead of being whisked to an alternate world that has no connection to the real one, Pokemon Go uses street-level maps as the setting for the player to romp around on. It’s important to note that almost all the gameplay interface involves real world maps of cities and communities.
Various landmarks, which may include schools, libraries, parks, or nearly any other point of interest, are represented in the game world as “Pokestops.” At these locations, players can accrue items that they use to catch the eponymous Pokemon. And these Pokemon are encountered randomly (or at least governed by algorithms that mimic randomness). They pop up on the map and players tap on them to attempt a capture.
There are other mechanics as well, but the basic gameplay loop encourages players to go outside, walk around (often for miles at a time), and stop at points of interest before carrying on. People unfamiliar with Pokemon Go may wonder why hundreds of players are gathering around in parks and markets. The reason is because these are high activity areas in the game, and this tendency to congregate has added a social element to the game that sparks cooperation and competitiveness.
It also, however, puts players at risk.
A Constant Distraction
The news isn’t all bad when considering Pokemon Go’s impact on health and safety. Players are walking long distances, and the sheer number doing so has attracted the attention of doctors, many of whom consider the game to be an excellent way to promote cardiovascular and mental health. For example, a fitness app known as Cardiogram tracks users’ heart rates throughout the day. This data is gathered by Cardiogram, and according to the app developer, the percentage of users getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day rose from about 45% on July 6th, the game’s release date, to about 55% just four days later.
Pokemon Go does require constant attention from the player, though, which encourages them to stare into the phone while walking and driving, even though players are cautioned by the game itself not to do so.
Most of the injuries and problems players have suffered have been due to distraction. Some examples include:
- Two men in Encinitas, CA fell off a 90-foot ocean bluff while playing the game. One man landed on the beach 90 feet below while the other landed on a ledge 50 feet down. Both were taken to a local trauma center with unspecified, though serious injuries.
- A player online claimed to have fallen in a ditch the first night after release, breaking several bones in their foot.
- A Pittsburgh, PA teenager was hit by a car while distracted by the game and suffered several deep contusions. The teenager claims that she looked both ways before crossing the street, but was lured across a busy highway by the game.
- A Baltimore man crashed into a police car while playing the game and driving at the same time. The crash occurred in the middle of the night, and several officers were standing by the car at the time of the crash. No one was hurt, but the driver was cited for failure to control his vehicle.
- Police arrested four men in O’fallon, MO responsible for robbing nine Pokemon Go players at gunpoint. According to the police, the robbers waited for players at a popular Pokestop and ambushed them while they were distracted.
This is just after one month following the game’s release. Reports from other countries include hit and runs, people wandering into secure military bases, and even warnings for players to avoid walking into areas where live mines may still be buried.
If players remain aware of their surroundings at all times and put the phone away while in the car, they will greatly reduce their risk of injury. In addition, players should consider the following before hitting up the local Pokestops:
- Police may be suspicious of players loitering in parks and around public buildings at night. Be prepared to explain the game to a patrolling officer.
- Distracted players are easy to spot at night, as their phone’s glow can be seen from a distance.
- Thieves may use this as a way to mark potential victims.
- During the day, make sure to carry adequate water and stay close to shade. Heat stroke can sneak up on players who aren’t paying attention.
- Parents should know exactly where their child are traveling before leaving the home. Also, parents should ask their child if they encountered anyone while attending Pokestops. Though there are no publicized cases yet, some police fear that predators may use the game as a way to meet unsupervised children.
In short, as long as players keep an eye out while tracking down the digital monsters, they can help avoid running, walking, or even driving into danger.
When a consumer suffers personal injury or loss due to a product that did not perform as intended, a defective products attorney may be an option. The victims in these types of cases have often suffered a terrible injury or loss of life that simply could have been avoided had the manufacturer been more diligent in the production of the item.
Examples of a defective product are a vehicle that has airbags that do not deploy correctly, a children’s toy painted with toxic paint, a pharmaceutical drug that causes organ failure, a bike helmet that does not effectively protect the head in the event of a crash, a health or beauty product that causes chemical burns on the skin, or a kitchen oven mitt that is made with materials that are flammable. Of course, there are countless other examples of product defects that have entered our marketplace and eventually our homes – and other realms of our daily lives. Major categories of products that are often involved include automobiles, children’s toys, baby items, health and beauty products, household appliances, and medical items and devices.
Product defects can cause severe burns, bodily injury, long-term health conditions, and possibly even loss of life. If an injury, illness, or death occurs due to a manufacturing defect, a defective products attorney may be able to assist in seeking compensation for the victim or their loved ones.
When an automobile accident occurs due to the negligence of another party, a car accident attorney can be helpful in many ways.
First, they can help determine who is the at-fault party or parties. For example, if a mechanical defect was present in the vehicle, but the manufacturer failed to inform all customers in a way that is in compliance with the law regarding these kind of defects, the lawyer may be able to determine that the manufacturer is at fault for the incident. If there was a malfunction in a traffic light, causing the intersection to become dangerous and resulting in the crash, it may be determined by the lawyer that the city or the manufacturer of the traffic light was ultimately at fault. Each of these examples is different, and each car wreck involves different circumstances, which is why so many injured people reach out to an attorney for help.
Second, a car accident attorney can help sift through and compile the necessary evidence to legally prove that the negligent party was at fault. Their experience in previous vehicle crash cases and education in law can help them determine the best course of action for their client. Every client and situation is unique, meaning the tactics used for each case will likely differ. The work to put together a case, should the client ultimately choose to file a lawsuit, is tedious and time consuming. Victims should seriously consider the advantages of having legal representation to deal with the very complicated and stressful aftermath of an accident that causes injury.
The ugly cloud of asbestos has been a burden on American workers for decades, causing numerous health problems and deaths over the years. A mesothelioma cancer attorney can work with you in an attempt to help you secure compensation for your hardship.
Asbestos had been a known carcinogen for many years. But some companies chose to continue implementing asbestos as insulation material in their buildings, opting to save money rather than lives. Although many buildings have been stripped of their asbestos or destroyed, many lingering health-effects exist for those initially exposed. Those in the construction industries are at risk of developing mesothelioma, as are those in the aviation and vehicle repair industries, and even those working in the oil and gas industries. Asbestos was widely used in many industries prior to its being labeled as potentially-deadly.
To receive compensation, a mesothelioma cancer attorney must be able to prove the relationship between the cancer and the time frame that their client was in contact with the asbestos. Once the relationship has been determined, they can pursue a claim. This compensation can come from the company that had installed the asbestos, a representative insurance company, or a victim trust fund. A victim should ALWAYS consult a lawyer to understand the exact deadline after diagnosis or death to file a potential claim.
If someone you know has died due to what you believe to be negligent behavior by another individual, a wrongful death suit may be the most effective way to receive suitable compensation.
A wrongful death can be defined as a situation where a victim’s demise was caused by a lack of safety and care. In order for a suit to be successful, a lawyer must be able to prove that an individual was negligent, and that significant financial or emotional suffering was endured by the victim’s loved ones. Examples of common lawsuits of this type include:
- Death from a vehicular accident
- Death from medical malpractice
- Death from intentional harm
Not everybody is eligible to file a lawsuit for a wrongful death. The more distant a family member or friend is, the less likely it is that they faced significant financial distress. Also, not all states allow for the award of all categories of damages, but many will award compensation for lost wages, lost benefits, medical costs, and interment expenses.
The death of a loved one is intensely traumatic, and can cause a lot of uncertainty about your financial future. An attorney may be able to help you achieve peace of mind and security after the untimely death of a loved one. Consider an attorney with specialized experience in wrongful death suits that will serve as the support you need in this difficult time.
Statistics indicate that roadways across the United States can be dangerous even for the most careful driver. Regardless of how experienced a driver may be behind the wheel, how cautious a driver may be around other vehicles, and how defensive a driver’s outlook, there’s always the chance that an accident can occur due to the negligence of another driver.
Unfortunately, safety rules are sometimes weakened rather than strengthened. This is all too often done by those in power for the financial benefit of special interest groups, and at the expense of others.
In recent years, traffic safety laws aimed squarely at some of the most powerful interests on the road—18-wheeler companies—have at times been weakened rather than strengthened. Only one party benefits and it’s neither the general public nor the truck drivers themselves. Instead, these changes are often pushed by the trucking industry and other entities with vested commercial interests.
Profit over Safety
After intense lobbying pressure by the trucking industry, a variety of policies favoring profit over safety are currently being considered by Congress. Backed by shipping giants UPS and FedEx, as well as trucking industry trade association behemoth the American Trucking Associations (ATA), changes proposed as recently as 2015 would mean longer big rigs, sleepier drivers, and drivers as young as 18-years-old behind the wheel:
- Regardless of a state’s current prohibition of such truck sizes, trucking companies would be allowed to attach two 33-foot trailers, which is a significant size increase over today’s limit of two 28-foot trailers.
- Whittling away at what little rest drivers get today, proposals include a reduction in current rest period law requirements.
- 18-year-olds would be allowed to drive 18-wheelers, yielding more inexperienced drivers on the road.
The Cold Reality of Trucking Fatalities and Injuries
Whether on their daily commute or enjoying a cross-country road trip, most drivers have experienced a dire sense of unease around 18-wheelers. That sense is well-founded. After all, tractor trailers are involved in a disproportionate amount of accidents on the road, with many crashes resulting in fatalities. Given the comparative size of these trucks to passenger cars, this should surprise no one.
While trucking industry groups are likely to continue pushing further for a profit-over-safety model, there are fortunately some things that a driver can do to avoid or minimize the possibility of an accident with an 18-wheeler:
- Drive Defensively: When around 18-wheelers, keep an eye on truck behavior and maintain a significant distance from the vehicle whenever possible. If there are multiple lanes available and they are easily accessible, safely move further away from the truck. While driving defensively is wise in every circumstance, extra care should be taken around trucks. Never tailgate a semi and keep a cool head, regardless of the circumstance. By driving defensively and maintaining a safe distance, a driver is more likely to be prepared for another vehicle’s next move and with the size and weight of large trucks, this is doubly important.
- Pass with Caution: When passing an 18-wheeler, do so with extreme caution and vigilance. Remember, it’s impossible to know the state of the driver: he or she may be fatigued, stressed, or inexperienced, for example, and if there’s no reason to take a chance, don’t do it.
- Beware of Turns: Large trucks make wide turns. For an 18-wheeler to make a right turn, the truck driver may first need to veer to the left. Again, in this circumstance it’s wise to keep a safe distance from an 18-wheeler.
- Avoid the Truck’s Blind Spots: As some truckers warn with stickers or other signage, trucks have blind spots. As the name implies, there are locations around a truck in which the driver cannot see other vehicles. If a trucker cannot see a vehicle, the likelihood of an accident may increase dramatically. As a result, it’s wise to avoid these spots altogether by keeping a generous distance.
Have you or someone you know been injured in a workplace incident? If so, workers compensation lawyers may be able to help hold your employer fully accountable.
Employers and insurance companies don’t always grant requests for compensation; in fact, some have been known to reject them just because they don’t think you’re going to appeal the decision. An attorney can guide you through the appeal process and cater the claim and lawsuit to your specific case, as not all workers compensation cases are created equal.
For example, if your injury is so severe that you may not be able to return to work in the near future, an attorney can help you sue for your medical bills as well as potential wages lost during the recovery process. Also, if you believe an employer is punishing you for filing an initial claim through cutting your hours or reducing your pay, an attorney can help fight to end the discrimination.
However, not every injured employee is eligible for workers compensation. The list of injuries that are covered varies by state, as some states allow a broader range of injuries to qualify for compensation. In any case, a distinct association between the workplace accident and your injury must be proven. Also, if you are not a full-time employee at the time of your injury, you may not be eligible for reimbursement.
Workers compensation lawyers could be your best chance to get the payment you deserve. A reputable attorney will stand beside you throughout the process and will guide you down the road to recovery.
Each year thousands of people enjoy vacation cruises to ports all over the globe. There is no question that a cruise can be a delightful experience for all involved, with a chance to visit exotic locales and enjoy gourmet dining twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The trip may include shopping and entertainment at your fingertips, beautiful white sandy beaches and azure seas, dreamy cocktails, fascinating cities, and the chance to soak up some foreign culture along with the sun. Cruises provide a sumptuous and leisurely way to travel and are often more about “getting there” than they are the destination. In short, vacation cruises are almost the ideal way to see different parts of the world in comfort, while playing and feasting as you go.
Unfortunately, there is a side to cruises that is not often talked about in the travel brochures or the travel shows, and that is the possibility of fatal accidents. Like any other form of travel, many cruise ships may be safe, where the majority of guests enjoy themselves and suffer no mishaps whatsoever. However, considering the number of individuals that take cruises each year, it is inevitable that fatal incidents will occur.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Death on a Cruise Ship?
- Falling Overboard – Fortunately, it is not easy to accidentally fall overboard. Cruise ships take precautions to make sure that passengers do not go on deck during inclement weather and high seas. Many of these types of deaths may be attributed to suicide. Still, accidentally falling overboard can and does happen, generally due to negligent safety issues on board.
- Murder – A cruise ship is a floating and closed environment where you just cannot walk away. Issues on land can be aggravated by the proximity that a cruise ship forces on passengers. Although rare, murder has occurred aboard cruise ships.
- Sinking Ships – This is a rarity in the Cruise industry, fortunately. However, it does happen. Ships that are not adequately maintained or do not use accepted safety protocols are at risk. Crew errors and malfunctioning equipment can lead to disaster as well.
- Medical Malpractice – Cruise ships have fully-functioning clinics on board that are typically well-equipped and staffed. Sea sickness is the most common complaint, but these floating hospitals can perform minor surgery if necessary. Just like land-based hospitals, mistakes can be made in the treatment and medications given.
- Slip and Fall Accidents – Wet decking, slippery pool decks, and stairs can be dicey to navigate. Most of the accidents that occur due to these circumstances are not lethal, but serious and/or permanent injuries are possible.
- Physical Assault – Intoxicated passengers have been known to get rowdy, and this can quickly turn into a violent atmosphere.
- Excursion Vehicle Accidents – As at home, buses, boats, and recreational watercraft such as jet skis can be involved in fatal accidents. Poorly maintained vehicles and driver negligence are common reasons why these accidents happen.
- Excursion Deaths – Snorkeling, diving and countryside tours, while fun for most can turn problematic if the crew is negligent or the equipment fails.
- Ship Catastrophes – Two of the most common ship catastrophes involve collisions with other vessels or stationary objects and fire. Collisions can cause the death of passengers and crew members, as can a fire. Fire is a serious threat, and when flames erupt onboard, it is difficult to get everyone safely into lifeboats as the smoke and flames may hinder sight and cause mass-confusion.
There are some questions an attorney will ask to help determine the best course of action to take after a loss on a cruise ship. To better prepare you in the event one occurs, we have listed a few examples:
- Date of the accident? Cruise lines often dictate when claims can be made, so it is important to contact an attorney soon after the incident. Each cruise line is different concerning requirements for claims.
- What is the name of the cruise line? Each line controls where hearings occur. Travel may be necessary.
- How did the injury or death occur? The more specific the details, the better.
- Where did the injury or death happen? Was it aboard ship? Did it happen on an excursion? This knowledge may provide insight as to the reason why the fatality occurred.
- Why do you think the cruise line or crew is at fault? Is there any evidence to substantiate the claim?
- Are there any witnesses? Witnesses are a great resource and can often offer a clear picture of what happened.
- Do any photos or video of the moments leading up to or the accident itself exist? This type of evidence can prove to be crucial in any proceedings.
- What kind of expenses have you incurred dealing with the aftermath? This would include medical expenses, repatriation of the deceased, funeral costs, loss of income, etc.
If you or anyone you know has been seriously injured or lost a loved one during a cruise, you may want to consider contacting a law firm that has experience with maritime law and representing cruise passengers, workers, and their families. Every case is different, but the best way to find out if you can seek compensatory damages is to speak with a qualified attorney.