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

Attorney fees added to award after maintenance and cure denial

An injury suffered in the service of a vessel may render a seaman unable to support him- or herself in New York. Often, swift medical attention is needed to prevent the damage from worsening. Having a safe place to stay during treatment may also be critical to recovery. Without maintenance and cure to cover the costs of these, a seaman may suffer more harm. However, taking the company to court may be a time-consuming and costly endeavor that further harms the seaman's financial status.

According to the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit, the courts may award the seaman compensation for the financial damages specifically related to the delayed or denied maintenance and cure payments. This includes compensation for the additional pain and suffering, as well as the medical costs of treating the worsened injury.

The 'smart vessel' and the future of the maritime industry

Occasionally, maritime mishaps move into the spotlight of New York news, typically involving accidents offshore. And although technical accidents are often inevitable, any kind of machine-related operation can come with its fair share of risks. When it comes to the maritime industry, errors are possible, as with any other mode of transportation. In response to such accidents, will the future of offshore work keep up with the advancements made in everyday vehicles? 

Marine Insight, a website that informs and educates the public about the maritime industry, shares some common causes of work accidents on the water. A writer for MI found offshore oil rig mishaps to be one of the most common types of accidents, as this work requires heavy machinery with delicate components. If a worker disturbs or overlooks one of these complex components, the whole process can go awry--and can ultimately affect more areas than the one in which workers are involved. Human error is a major reason why many cruise vessels develop problems out at sea. Some workers find they cannot manage in extreme weather conditions; others wreck ships due to mere negligence. 

Accidents and crimes on the high seas: What you need to know

The authority of a ship’s captain and the protection of the Jones Act are two important items to understand if you work or travel in international waters. Here are eight frequently asked questions about laws covering accidents and crimes at sea.


Defining vocational rehab

After having been injured in a boating or maritime accident on Manhattan's docks or out the on the open water, your ultimate goal will likely be to return to work. Sadly, several of the clients that we here at Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha LLP have worked with in the past have found that to be impossible. After all of the time you have dedicated to your career up to this point (coupled with the new physical limitations that now prevent you from returning to it), you may believe a career change to be impossible. However, there are resources available to help make that happen. 

Vocational rehabilitation is designed specifically to help people in your situation adapt their skill sets to better accommodate their new physical or mental disabilities. The ultimate goal of such rehab is to help you secure gainful employment in a position that pays you equal or near the salary you earned prior to your injury. Vocational rehab programs include elements such as career counseling, skills and aptitudes assessments, as well as job training and coaching. Once you have completed training, many programs will work with you to help place you in a new job (even up to working with your new employer to ensure necessary accommodations are made to help bolster your success). 

Fatal boating accident statistics

Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard gathers data regarding fatal recreational boating accidents from throughout the United States, its territories and its waterways. According to this information, in 2016, there were 4,463 accidents leading to 701 deaths. New York saw 3.1 percent of the total recreational boating fatalities. In the state, there were 188 accidents, the highest number since 2012. 

The American Boating Association points out that reports for U.S. boating accidents in 2016 did not always contain all of the data requested, so some percentages do not provide a complete picture. However, of the fatalities where the cause was known, 80 percent involved drowning, and 83 percent of the people who drowned were not wearing life jackets. 

4 Important Takeaways From The El Faro Report

The long-awaited Coast Guard report on the 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro revealed what many had suspected. The captain and the ship’s owner were largely responsible for the tragic sinking, which resulted in 33 deaths, making it one of the largest maritime accidents in U.S. history.

The report, which was released at the end of September, revealed extensive safety violations related to training, staffing, decision-making and the ship itself. Here are four major findings from the report.

OSHA risk prevention regulations for longshoremen

Longshoring in New York involves its own specific set of hazards. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has noted many of these through a collection of fatal material handling incident reports that may serve as risk assessment and prevention tools

The primary types of fatal events in longshoring and marine terminals are struck by/crushed by accidents. In particular, workers may be struck or crushed by the following:

  • Improperly stacked materials or crates
  • Improperly secured loads
  • Heavy equipment or machinery
  • Falling parts or tools

Early reports indicate Navy collisions were preventable

After recent maritime accidents involving U.S. Navy destroyers and cargo vessels, many New Yorkers may be wondering how ships on an expanse of ocean could collide. According to The New York Times, investigators believe that the vessel collisions that claimed the lives of several men were, in fact, completely preventable.

U.S. Navy commanders describe high-stress conditions that servicemembers face in the waters around Japan, where the largest of the U.S. Navy fleet is located. In part due to unstable relations between the U.S. and North Korea, ships are sent out frequently, and those aboard receive few opportunities to rest.

Determining a shipowner's negligence

Unsafe conditions at sea can put a New York seaman's life in danger where those same conditions on land may not be much of a safety issue. Because of provisions in the Jones Act, someone who is injured while working on a ship may be able to hold the shipowner liable for negligence. According to Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute, negligence is acting without a reasonable level of care for another's safety, or failing to act in a reasonable way to keep another safe. 

Defining how a reasonable person would act could seem vague, but a legal definition has been created to help make this clear. A person who has the duty to act should be able to anticipate the potential for harm and the level of harm possible, and be able to take precautions to reduce or eliminate that possibility. To prove that negligence occurred, a person would have to prove that he or she was harmed, that someone owed a duty of care, that that person breached that duty and that it caused the injury. 

Cause of fatal boat accident unknown

The potential for a boat malfunction on the open water may be similar to the chances that a New Yorker will end up stranded on the side of the road with a vehicle out of commission. However, the consequences of a simple mechanical failure or design flaw are often much more serious for boaters. 

It is not known whether a recent boating accident was caused by a manufacturing error, maintenance error, collision or some other cause. However, authorities do know that three men were fishing on Lake Ontario when the boat began to take on water. The owner of the boat apparently became trapped in the cabin as the vessel sank. The rescue teams involved included the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards, firefighters, local law enforcement and divers. He was found two days later at the bottom of the lake.

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