When Ships Collide, Our Maritime and Jones Act Lawyers Help Pick Up the Pieces
Out on the open sea, collisions are rare. Open water and the ability to see for miles should prevent ships from colliding with other ships or with land or rock. Ships do collide, however, and often these collisions result in serious maritime injuries or wrongful death for the crew. Ship collisions can cause explosions, fires, drowning and severe injuries such as traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. But how do collisions happen? Although sometimes an accident is really an accident, often someone´s negligence or the vessel´s unseaworthy condition is to blame.
Ship Collision Causes
Negligence and unseaworthiness are often factors in vessel collisions. Whether the ship collided with a rock or with another ship, the collision is usually avoidable. Common causes of collisions at sea include:
- Failure to follow the rules of the road, established by International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS) for ships and vessels or the Racing Rules of Sailing
- Inadequate, faulty or lack of proper lighting on vessel
- Faulty or lack of radar on vessel
- Failure to have captain, mate or crew at wheel/helm
- Inexperience of captain, mate or crew at wheel/helm
- Intoxicated operation
- Inattention or exhaustion of the captain or crew and falling asleep at the wheel
- Faulty steering because of defective ship construction or unseaworthy condition
- Failure to follow proper safety procedures and regulations
- Failure to use equipment properly
- Improperly trained or unqualified crew
- Failure to heed warnings about inclement weather or failure to navigate in the careful manner necessary during a storm or in fog
Why You Need Experienced Legal Counsel
Because of the serious and complicated nature of a ship collision, hiring experienced maritime counsel is the key to obtaining the maximum money recovery for your injuries. If you are a maritime worker and the collision injured you during the course of your employment, hiring an experienced maritime and Jones Act attorney can ensure that you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled, including maintenance and cure.
If you were injured in a collision as a passenger on a cruise, ferry or personal watercraft, other federal maritime laws may apply. Maritime law is complicated, and hiring an attorney with little or no experience with maritime law and federal courts could cost you. Additionally, the owner of the vessel has the option to file a Petition for Limitation of Liability, which would allow the owner to limit your recovery to the value of the vessel at the time of the accident, which in many collisions is zero due to the fact that the vessel it is sitting on the bottom of the ocean.
A maritime attorney knows the specific laws that apply and the best way to maximize damages whether under state or federal law depending on the location of the sinking and whether the accident was fatal. The location of the accident, the victim’s status as a passenger or employee and the victim’s number of dependents can affect the type of damages to which the victim or his family is entitled, from pain and suffering to wage loss.
The maritime attorneys at Latti & Anderson LLP have been involved in many high profile ship collision cases, including the case of the F/V STARBOUND-M/T VIRGO collision, so we know how to effectively obtain the highest damages award available under the maritime law. Contact our maritime trial lawyers to tell us about your case. We represent clients nationwide.