lifeguard-20343192-300x200Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean announced its implementation of a new water safety program fleet wide starting with Oasis of the Seas.  The program includes stationing of lifeguards trained by StarGuard Elite at every pool including Solarium, the adult-only area.  RCL will also offer a 15-minute water safety presentation during the embarkation-day open house session for its youth program, Adventure Ocean.

Additionally, the new program will include the introduction of water safety instruction signs throughout the ships, which include signage around pool areas and cabins encouraging parents to use the life jackets made available to children ages 4-12 since late 2015.

Amid mounting pressure, Norwegian Cruise Line announced last week its decision to hire lifeguards to its four largest ships—Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic by summer, 2017.  Norwegian expects to add lifeguards fleetwide by March, 2018.

The Florida personal watercraft accident attorneys of Brais Brais Rusak have recently brought a lawsuit against a Miami area rental and tour company for negligent conduction of a WaveRunner Tour.  The facts surrounding this case involved a couple from New Jersey vacationing in South Florida.  They decided to take a Biscayne Bay personal watercraft tour and purchased such a tour from one of the many companies operating at the Bayside Marina.  After paying for the tour, the couple were directed the WaveRunners to start the guided tour.   Once on the water, it became apparent that the weather was deteriorating and the waves began to become larger and larger.  Though the bay waters were turning rough, the tour guide not only kept taking the couple out farther but started to separate himself from the couple riding behind.  In fear of getting left behind, the couple attempted to catch up to their tour guide.  While attempting to catch up, the WaveRunner struck a wave causing the wife to separate from the craft then slam back down on it.

The impact resulted in a fractured patella and torn meniscus.  The patella, more commonly known as the knee cap, is the triangular bone which protect the surface of the knee joint.  A meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions the knee which prevents the femur and tibia from rubbing against each other.  The wife underwent surgery for her injuries.

Court papers assert that the guide failed to provide the statutory required instruction before beginning the tour and failed to conduct the tour in a reasonably safe manner.  Under maritime law, a company that provides personal watercraft tours must follow statutory requirements including specific safety briefings before allowing their customers on the water.  Furthermore, the tour operator must provide a tour which is reasonably safe.  The lawsuit claims that the tour guide’s decision to take the couple in exposed waters of Biscayne Bay during rough weather coupled with the fact that he separated from the group fell below minimum legal standards.  The case is currently pending before the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Finger-Injury-LawOur Miami personal injury attorneys are currently representing a college student who was severely injured when a kinetic horse sculpture’s head rotated down on his right middle finger pitching it between the sculpture’s head and neck.  On April 4, 2014, our client, his mother and cousin was visiting the Kenneth Meyers Park located in the Coconut Grove section of Miami.  It was the first time they visited the park.  Near the front of the park stood two brightly colored animal sculptures created by Fredrick Prescott.  One was of a giraffe and the other the horse.  Our client’s cousin, who is fond of giraffes, wanted to get closer have her photo taken with the sculpture.  Since there were no signs stating not to touch the sculptures or any barrier erected around the sculptures, the family thought it was safe to touch the sculptures who having their pictures taken.  While the cousin was interacting with the giraffe, our client’s mother suggested that he imitate petting the horse for a photograph.  As our client reached up and placed his hand on the bottom of the horse’s head, the head swung down pinching his middle finger against the horse’s neck.  The scissoring action of the horse’s head with the neck severed a portion of the young man’s right middle finger.

It was later discovered that the two animals were kinetic sculptures whose heads were designed to sway in the wind.  Unfortunately, on the day of the incident, there was no wind and the heads remained static until our client touched the underside of the horse’s head.  Given there was no warning signs or barriers, the family was unaware that the heads of the sculptures moved.

Our law firm brought a lawsuit against artist who designed and assembled the sculpture alleging he was negligent for failing to incorporate finger guards or at least providing labels on the sculptures warning people that parts move and to not touch the sculptures.  We also brought a lawsuit against the City of Miami alleging it was negligent for failing to place warning signs or barriers to access so that a reasonable person would know not to touch the sculpture.  The artist and City responded to the lawsuit denying their negligence and asserting, among other things, that they should not be held liable because the hazard was open and obvious.

Carinval-Cruise-Club-O2The Florida maritime lawyers of Brais Brais & Rusak have been retained to represent a female minor passenger who was allegedly sexually assaulted and raped on board the Carnival Breeze on October 3, 2015.  The incident occurred when the child left the cruise ship’s Club O2 teen lounge and upon heading to a nearby elevator was surrounded by five adult men who forced her into the elevator, down a ship’s hallway and into a cabin of one of the men.  The men were able to target the child as their victim because Carnival failed to keep the unrelated men out of the Club O2 lounge earlier in the cruise.  On at least one occasion the men were told to leave of the Club O2 lounge, but by then it was too late and they simply waited outside the Club O2 lounge until their unsuspecting victim left the teen club.

The Club O2 lounge is advertised as a dedicated lounge aboard Carnival ships for children ages 15 to 17 to “hang out and do stuff like watch movies, listed to music from this decade, play sports and video games, join karaoke jam sessions . . . maybe even have a pool party or two, all with other high schoolers ages of 15 to 17.”  Carnival states on its website, that Club O2 is designed specifically for 15-17-year-olds, which means no kids and no adults.  It is further described as a safe and comfortable environment for teen cruise passengers.  Carnival notes that “as legal adults, 18-year-olds are not permitted to participate in or use the Club O2 facilities or any other Youth Program facilities.”

Based on the above description, parents, like our clients, reasonably believe that Carnival has in place measures to keep out persons not supposed to be in the Club O2 lounge. At the very least, parents believe that Carnival has a person at the door of the lounge confirming the ages of the guests attempting to enter the lounge and that they are there for legitimate purposes.

Florida_Tug_Boat_Accident_Law-188x300The Florida maritime lawyers of Brais Brais & Rusak successfully obtained an Order dismissing a counter-claim brought against their client by a tug and barge company.

On March 9, 2016, the firm’s clients were fishing in the Indian River when their boat’s outboard engine broke down.  The two men were able to navigate the disable fishing boat along the shore next to the Beyel Bros.’ tug and barge facility located in Ft. Pierce, Florida.   Beyel Bros. dispatched a small Jon Boat to tow the disabled fishing boat away from its facility and to a nearby boat ramp.  While in the process of towing, a Beyel Bros. tugboat backed down on and collide with the fishing boat.  The collision caused firm’s clients to be ejected into the water and the boat to overturn.  The men suffered personal injures as a result of the boating accident.

Brais Brais & Rusak filed a lawsuit in a Florida Federal court alleging the tug and barge company’s employees were negligent by towing the fishing boat in the path of the backing down tug as well as the failing to keep a lookout posted on the tug to observe the fishing boat under tow.  The tug company filed a counter-claim against the fishing boat’s owner for what is known contribution.  A contribution claim is a legal theory where a defendant may seek re-payment against a contributing tortfeasors for the amount paid in damages beyond the percentage of fault attributed against the defendant in causing the accident.   In order to be successful, the Defendant must show that the injured party’s harm emanated, at least in part, from a duty that the would-be contributor breached.

Cruise-Pool-Drowing.jpgThe Florida Board Certified Maritime Attorneys of Brais Brais Rusak have been retained by the family of a child who died from complications caused by a near drowning incident aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship. We are honored to have the opportunity to help this family in their time of need.

The incident occurred on June 30, 2016 as the Anthem of the Seas was leaving the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey. The child, along with his brother and other children, entered into the children’s pool located in the H20 Zone on the 14th deck. A cruise ship attendant was posted within the H20 zone and appeared to be looking after the children. Though there was a cruise ship attendant in the area, the child was allowed to take off his life jacket, leave the children’s area and enter the much deeper main pool. The child, who could not swim, sank to the bottom and was underwater for an estimated eight to ten minutes. He was removed from the water and shipboard medical staff preformed resuscitation efforts. A pulse was established and the child was medevaced by the Coast Guard to Staten Island University Hospital in New York. Tragically, the boy died two days later.
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WaveRunner-Accident-Miami.jpgOur Florida Board Certified Admiralty & Maritime lawyers have brought a lawsuit against a Miami Beach WaveRunner rental company for its violation of boating safety laws which contributed to our client’s injuries. The complaint filed in Federal court alleges that our client was a part of a group of people who rented a yacht along with WaveRunners from the concessionaire. The concessionaire supplied the yacht captain. During the course of the day, the yacht passengers took turns operating the WaveRunners. Our client was given no training on how to properly operate the personal watercraft. The yacht captain had a practice of operating the yacht in close proximity to the people riding the WaveRunners. The yacht, given its size, produced a significant wake. While our client was operating the WaveRunner, the yacht gave off a wake that was parallel to the path our client was heading. Having little of no time to maneuver away from the wake, our client hit the wake causing him to be thrown into the air and land hard onto the personal watercraft.
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Degloving Injury Royal Caribbean Zip Line Accident.jpgThe cruise passenger injury lawyers of Brais Brais & Rusak have filed lawsuit on behalf of a Texas woman against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and a Honduran shore excursion operator for injuries sustained while participating in a zip-line excursion offered, advertised and marketed by the cruise line on its website.

The Complaint alleges that on the morning of September 3, 2015, our client paid for and participated in a Royal Caribbean advertised zip lining excursion offered by MC Tours at Roatan, Honduras. While zip lining from one platform to the other, our client followed the safety briefing by crossing her legs and lifting them as high as she could. Court papers assert that because there was too much slack in the line, when our client reached the other platform she violently struck her legs on to the front of the platform suffering severe injuries. The platform consisted of essentially a sheet of unpadded wood. Upon impact, the exposed wooden platform ripped the skin off her lower legs leaving bone, tendons and muscle exposed. Our client had open wounds on both lower legs, soft tissue loss measuring 18 x 32 cm on the left leg and 14 x 7 cm on the right leg. She underwent 11 operations consisting of incision, debridement and drainage procedures with wound vac exchanges and eventually skin grafts from skin taken from her left thigh.
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Florida-Keys-Dive-Lawsuit.jpgOur firm has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of a Florida Key’s dive boat crewmember who lost his life. On the night of November 15, 2015, the crewmember was serving as a deck hand aboard a dive boat while seventeen SCUBA divers were participating in a wreck dive. Court papers allege that at the end of the dive profile, four of the seventeen divers had not returned to the dive boat. The captain observed two of the divers approximately 300-400 feet away and the other two further down current. The crewmember entered the water to assist the divers back to the dive boat. He reached the first two divers and provided them a fixed line so they could be pulled back to the dive boat. He then continued to swim to the other two divers further down current — now about a half mile from the dive boat. While the crewmember was swimming to the two remaining divers, the Captain retrieved the dive boat’s anchor, stowed the deployed appurtenances. By the time the captain made way and maneuvered the dive boat to the crewmember, he was found floating unresponsive. He later perished leaving behind a wife and two minor children.
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Jet-Ski-Accident-1.18-Million-Dollar-Verdict.jpgOur client Khalila Jenkins was enjoying Labor Day Weekend in Miami Beach in 2013 when she decided to go jet skiing with friends. The group rented the personal watercrafts and took off to ride in the area designated by the rental company. The rental company required the group as well as other people who rented personal watercrafts to remain in an area which was marked by floating markers. Ms. Jenkins was riding on the back of the Jet Ski while her friend operated the craft. Before long Ms. Jenkins noticed that some of the people were operating their jet skis in a reckless manner, playing games of chicken and trying to splash one another with the spray from the crafts’ pump. Ms. Jenkins told her friend who was operating her jet ski to move away from those people which he did. While returning to shore, Tony Jakes of Nevada, t-boned the personal watercraft Ms. Jenkins’ was riding at full speed. This collision caused a displaced fracture of Ms. Jenkins’ left tibia and fibula before ejecting her into the water. Luckily, she was wearing a life jacket at the time. This, perhaps, saved her life.
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