Millions Recovered

  • $5,400,000.00 settlement involving a seaman who fell from a stairway during fire and boat drill aboard a container ship sustaining quadriplegic injuries. Partners Mellusi and Shisha personally inspected the vessel taking hundreds of measurements and still and videos of every stairway in the ship’s main deck house. The data was compared with the vessel’s design plans in our library which demonstrated the vessel had been negligently constructed in that it failed to follow the naval architect’s original design specifications.
  • $2,400,000 jury award to a licensed marine engineer who sustained permanent knee injuries while attempting to remove a 200 lb. valve from an overhead piping system. Partner Mellusi personally inspected the ship’s engine room taking detailed photos and measurements. A duplicate valve was obtained from a maritime junkyard and was brought into court along with an auto-shop mechanical hoist capable of lifting it 12 feet to demonstrate the vessel lacked suitable means to perform this work safely. The jury award was in top ten verdicts in the United States for a comparable knee injury. The case was tried to verdict in a New York Federal Court.
  • $2,980,000.00 jury award to a ship’s cook for back injury resulting from insufficient procedures for moving ship stores. Case tried in New York federal court.
  • $2,700,000.00 settlement to a mate on a Tanker vessel who sustained multiple fractures.
  • $2,000,000.00 was awarded to a barge deckhand – wrongful death.
  • $1,827,000 awarded to a marine engineer working on a US Government supply vessel who fell into an unguarded ventilation fan causing neck, shoulder and hand injuries. The case was tried non-jury before a federal judge in Baltimore Federal Court. The court award was subsequently determined to be within the highest ten verdicts for the State of Maryland in 2009.
  • $1,200,000.00 jury award to a ship’s Bosun who sustained shoulder and neck injuries while attempting to move plywood sheets on main deck of vessel during 40 knot winds. Case tried in New York Federal Court.
  • $950,000 awarded to passenger killed when his recreational boat came into collision with tow wire of tug and barge
  • $850,000 settlement, Federal Court Allentown PA., to seaman sustained herniated disk while lifting a 110 lbs crane hooks.
  • $840,000 jury award to a seaman who fell from ladder while painting sustaining fractured wrist.
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New York Maritime Law Blog

New York laws for boat operators

It may seem as if the wide-open spaces of New York waterways would lessen the risk of a collision or other accident. The vulnerability of boating passengers out on the water can turn even a small incident into a major catastrophe, though. New York has instated laws that should guide the actions of any boat operator.

Boat Ed. Points out that just like on land, speeding in the water is unsafe. Even when there are not posted speed limits, boaters should be aware of how fast is too fast for the current conditions. For example, in a congested area, a driver could be cited for reckless operation if the boat is moving at a high speed. When a boat is within 100 feet of a dock, raft, pier, float, anchored or moored vessel, or the shore, the speed limit is always five miles per hour.

Lifeboats: Help or hazard?

When you leave New York or another port and head to sea, it should go without saying that your ship will have an adequate number of lifeboats to rescue everyone on board in case of an emergency. Safety4Sea.com notes that merely having them is not enough, as statistics indicate that a lifeboat may be as likely to kill you as save you.

The lifeboats on your vessel require constant maintenance, and this goes beyond making sure that they will not take on water. For example, if you are on a ship that transports hazardous cargo, accidents may cause a fire on the surface of the ocean. To escape the situation, you must have a system that protects the boat from the blaze, and the engine of the boat typically pumps the water spray as well as moving you through the water. Regular maintenance may require you to start the engines weekly and let them run to ensure that they are ready for an emergency.

Human error may have caused fatal crane accident

Shipbuilders in New York may be all too familiar with the many things that can go wrong in a shipyard. While a misstep can cause a shipyard employee’s own injury or fatality, mistakes due to negligence, noncompliance or carelessness can just as easily affect those in the surrounding area. When it comes to heavy equipment, the responsibility is high for those who operate it, and also those who perform maintenance and ensure that safety standards are met.

The collapse of a tower crane killed five workers who were in a break area on an oil platform being built by Samsung Heavy Industries. Authorities speculate that the workers responsible for operating and signaling may have made errors that caused the heavily loaded tower crane to collide with a gantry crane. An investigation into the circumstances is ongoing, and compliance issues with the equipment have not been ruled out as a factor in the accident.

Illnesses such as cancer may be covered by maintenance and cure

Health conditions that occur while a New Yorker is working on a vessel at sea may lead to hefty medical bills and the inability to return to work for some time. These financial challenges may not be so devastating, though, because of maintenance and cure. According to KDLG.org, this financial benefit covers almost any injury or illness if it happened while the seaman is in service on a boat.

To ensure that they are not paying expenses for someone’s pre-existing condition, some employers will provide a medical questionnaire that must be filled out before an contract is signed. Experts encourage owners to carry insurance because illnesses such as cancer are typically covered by maintenance and cure if they arise while the employee is working on the vessel.

Accident on tugboat leaves crew member without an arm

Working on a tugboat in New York Harbor presents unique challenges and hazards, as these vessels are designed to push or pull other vessels from place to place. Equipment and duties on a tugboat may put seamen at risk in cases of negligence, such as improperly performed maintenance or inadequate training for the jobs at hand.

A recent accident involving a tugboat is under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard as authorities attempt to discover the circumstances that led to the serious injury of the operator. The New York Police Department responded to the call reporting the incident and upon boarding the boat, they discovered that the lower portion of the man’s arm had been severed.

Study: Boats hit whales more often than previously thought

What are the chances of your boat hitting a whale? New research suggests the odds might be higher than you think.

Vessels have hit about 15 percent of the humpback whales feeding in the Gulf of Maine, according to a new study. And researchers believe this estimate is probably lower than the actual number of humpbacks who have been hit by boats, since the study only looked at injuries to living whales, not whales that have been killed by vessels.

Common marine terminal fatality causes

One of the purposes of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is to ensure that employers carry insurance that provides benefits to those in New York who load and unload ships and are injured on the job. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that not only does the Act require coverage for medical expenses and compensation for those who are injured while performing these duties, it also includes provisions for a longshoreman’s family after a fatal injury.

Because of the extreme dangers unique to the jobs, these fatalities are all too common. They are also often preventable. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has gathered data on the causes of worker deaths in the longshoring and marine terminals industry in order to promote the development of safety guidelines.

  • Vehicle accidents are among the most frequent sources of fatal injuries. For example, a worker may be struck by a front-end loader that does not have the required functional safety alerts. While working on roll-on/roll-off ships or unloading and transfer operations, a longshoreman may be struck by a vehicle in areas with poor visibility. Forklifts also contribute to many “struck by” accidents.
  • Falls cause longshore worker deaths from both injuries and drowning. Improper procedures, a lack of guard rails and safety harnesses, and other unsafe working conditions have led to many fatal injuries. While falling into the water may seem like less of a risk, failure to wear life vests, defective life vests and inadequate life rings significantly increase the chances of a drowning death.
  • Working with the cargo itself also leads to “struck by” and “crushed by” injuries due to improperly secured or stacked crates and materials. Cranes, trucks and forklifts that are not loaded correctly can tip or release their loads, as well.

After 2 deaths, MAIB urges Clipper organizer to check race safety

In the past two years, two participants in the Clipper Round the World yacht race have died in maritime accidents. Now, Britain's Marine Accident Investigation Branch is recommending that the race's organizers review and, if necessary, revise both its shore-based management procedures and its yacht-manning policies. Furthermore, the agency urges Clipper Ventures Plc to challenge all participating skippers to make certain safe work practices are adhered to during the race.

According to the BBC, 40-year-old Londoner Sarah Young was washed overboard in the Pacific leg of the race last April. Her body was recovered, but she was buried at sea. Andrew Ashman, a 49-year-old paramedic also from London, was struck in the neck by a boom in September 2015 and died from his injuries.

Liquefaction of bulk cargo can sink ships

Cargo on ships may undergo conditions much different from those that may occur on a train or in a semitrailer in New York. Even calm seas may cause significant shifting if goods are not secured, and often, there is settling of bulk cargo that may lead to a serious imbalance. When storms arise, the situation may become much less stable. However, with certain cargoes, the motions caused by choppy seas could lead to a new threat: liquefaction.

Marine Insight explains that agitation can cause some mineral concentrates and substances such as iron and nickel ores to suddenly turn from solids to liquids. Moisture content can also be a factor, and this information should be listed on the shippers declaration. It is the chief officer's responsibility to review this document carefully before allowing any cargo to be loaded. During the voyage, levels of moisture may need to be checked repeatedly, if the load has unstable capabilities.

What caused last year's rise in Staten Island Ferry injuries?

Whether you commute by subway or ferry, it's easy to stumble while rushing through crowds to catch your ride. But ferry commuters may face a few additional hazards once they're on board.

Between July and October of last year, 10 people were injured badly enough aboard Staten Island ferries and in terminals that they needed to be taken to the hospital, according to city data reported by SILive.com. This bumped the ferry service's annual accident rate up to 1.16 per million passengers, an increase over the same period in 2015.

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