Near Drowning Aboard RCCL’s Anthem of the Seas Ship

It appears that most cruise lines do not want to spend the money needed to protect young passengers from drowning in their pools.  If it is not that they are trying to save money, I cannot understand the reason why they continually resist hiring and placing trained and competent lifeguards at their pools. Perhaps they argue that they would be exposed to even greater legal liability by not positioning the lifeguards in the proper places, not training them correctly, or for their failure to respond quickly enough. However, if they can find people qualified to get a massive mega cruise liner with 6000 passengers and crew from Miami to Cozumel three times a week, they can hire some Red Cross-approved teenagers who want to make some money and live on a cruise ship for three months–and most importantly save some lives. Unfortunately, until the cruise industry–Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, and Carnival–puts passenger safety ahead of profit, parents will need to make sure they put their vacation on hold whenever their kids want to enjoy the pools. Cruise lines simply prefer to place the responsibility for pool safety on untrained parents who have been plied with unlimited drink packages and spa days, and can easily fall asleep or be distracted from maintaining constant visual contact with their kids who are splashing around in overcrowded swimming pools with dozens of strangers. For example, last week RCCL’s Anthem of the Seas was forced to make an emergency return to port shortly after it left the Port of Bayonne, New Jersey, after an eight-year-old Dutch boy nearly drowned in one of the ship’s...

Disney Facing Potential Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Alligator Attack?

Tragedy strikes in Orlando, FL, yet again as the remains of two-year-old Lane Graves have been discovered after the child was reportedly attacked and pulled into the water by an alligator at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort. The incident was said to have happened while the toddler and his mother were attending an outdoor movie night at the resort. Witnesses of the incident said that they saw the mother with the toddler, who was wading on the edge on the lake, which seems to resemble a small beach. At approximately 9:00 p.m., Lane Graves was attacked and pulled into the lake by an alligator reported to be four-to-seven feet in length. His father’s attempts to dive in after him and force the alligator’s mouth open to release the child were unsuccessful as the boy had already been pulled under the murky water. Tragically, his remains were discovered, 12-15 yards from where the attack occurred, by an Orange County dive team after a grueling 16-hour search of the property. His body was found intact with a few puncture wounds and, while an autopsy has yet to be performed, it is likely that the cause of death was drowning. Disney World commented on the incident by saying that in the 45 years since the canals have existed there has never been a report of an attack like this. The Seven Seas Lagoon, as the lake is called, is a man-made body of water that separates the resort from the Magic Kingdom park and stretches into a series of canals that wind through the entire Disney property. While the hotel did...

Is There Insurance Coverage for a Summer Camp Accident?

Summer camp is just around the corner for millions of children across the State of Florida and around the country. Our Miami injury lawyers are frequently asked if there is insurance coverage for injuries when kids are hurt traveling to and from summer camp and on camping field trips. The acid test for every Miami children’s injury lawyer who sues summer camps–or cruise lines, and other businesses–is did the injury occur “in the course and scope” of the counselor’s duties? For nearly 25 years I have battled insurance companies on this issue and have learned that commercial insurance policies are designed to protect the insurance company’s profits–not the camps, not the counselors, and certainly not the injured campers. Camp Volunteer Causes Head-On Traffic Accident Recently a “Registered Volunteer” camp counselor for Troop 370 of the Boy Scouts of America, Alan Norton, was involved in a terrifying head-on collision. Mr. Norton was driving back from a Florida cemetery where he had been supervising a Boy Scout who had, over the course of eight visits, assisted in cleaning up a Florida cemetery, in hopes of earning an Eagle Scout Merit Badge. On the last and fateful visit, Mr. Norton had forgotten to photograph the cemetery to verify the Scout’s work, so he drove home to retrieve his camera with the intention of returning to the cemetery to take pictures. Photographing the work was mandated to verify that the Scout had in fact met his requirements. On the return drive, Mr. Norton hit Chris Hubner head-on, seriously injuring Mr. Hubner and himself. Mr. Hubner sued the Boy Scouts of America for his...

Suing Disney Cruise Lines

A cruise on the Disney Line’s Dream turned into a nightmare for a 13-year-old female passenger who was molested during her family’s vacation onboard the ship. Crew member Ahmed Sofyan, a resident of Jakarta, Indonesia, was arrested in Florida by the Port of Canaveral Police after being accused of molesting the child during their four-day cruise to the Bahamas. According to reports, he was arrested on two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment. Sofyan is currently incarcerated at the Brevard County Jail Complex. How long the crew member worked for Disney and the nature of his duties aboard the Dream are unknown at this time. Following his arrest, Disney’s issued the following statement: “We have no tolerance whatsoever for the behavior alleged in this incident . . . . We are sorry that anything of this nature could have occurred on one of our ships. We place enormous value on the trust our guests have in us, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of each and every one of our guests.” The case should serve as a warning to all parents that they must be vigilant aboard cruise ships just as though they were vacationing with their family at a hotel in a large city. Cruise ships often appear to be safe playgrounds, and parents–also in need of a vacation–want to believe that their children, teenaged and younger, are safe to wander the ship. As a lawyer who sues Disney, I recommend never leaving children alone and without parental supervision while onboard a cruise ship. Our thoughts...

Warning from Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers: Swim at Your Own Risk

Our cruise ship injury lawyers want to warn families about to take a cruise with their children to be extra careful to supervise them closely whenever they are using one of the ship’s swimming pools. This is especially important as virtually no cruise lines provide lifeguards. We find this extremely difficult to believe, especially in light of a number of recent tragedies that have killed and severely injured children who have drowned onboard cruise ships. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death by drowning among children one to four accounts for more deaths than any other cause except birth defects. Yet currently no U.S. laws require cruise lines to provide lifeguards at their pools, and some of those ships carry hundreds or even thousands of children on every voyage. Boy Drowns on Norwegian Cruise Ship Our condolences go out to the family of a four-year-old boy who died aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway when he drowned in one of the ship’s swimming pools, off the coast of North Carolina. He and a six-year-old boy were airlifted to Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern with his grandmother and one of the ship’s nurses. He died on the way. The Breakaway is one of Norwegian’s newest mega cruise ships with 18 decks and the capacity to carry up to 4,000 passengers. The ship, based in New York City, has a Manhattan-inspired theme, several swimming pools, and a designated aqua park for young children. Its Splash Academy provides supervised swimming for children ages 3 to 17. It is unknown if these kids were signed into care at Splash...

Child Safety: Understanding Releases and Waivers

This week my daughter Sara Rose’s elite prep school has taken her 9th-grade class out to the Florida Everglades for something called “Outward Bound.” It is purported to be a “life-changing experience” where the sometime sheltered and often coddled members of her class get to experience nature and solitude in a new and profound way. I wanted desperately for her to go; I am not sure how enthusiastic Sara Rose was. In order for her to attend this event, she–along with presumably every other member of her class–was asked to have her parents or guardian sign a release and waiver for her to attend the event. In other words, they had to enter into a contract not to sue the school (or anyone else, for that matter) in the event of an accident or worse. As a children’s lawyer in Florida, I have spent nearly 20 years trying to help kids who have been hurt in daycares, theme parks, public schools, city parks, swimming pools, summer camps, on cruise ships, and by dangerous medications. I have represented injured children who have been inadequately supervised, left to play on dangerous playground equipment, bullied, or involved in car accidents. SHOULD I SIGN A WAIVER FOR MY CHILD? When Sara Rose presented me with the release, my first instinct as a parent was to sign it and hope for the best. But my years of being a lawyer caused me to pause, put my glasses on, and read it. I was astounded. The language in the release gave away any right or claim that she or her parents would have in the...
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