Gangway Accidents

Gangway accidents are common ways cruise ship passengers and crew members are injured. Gangways are commonly used on cruise ships and other large maritime vessels. Gangways are the narrow ramps or passages used by passengers to embark or debark from a ship. The types of gangways passengers encounter vary from ship to the port. Gangway accidents usually involve either the ship gangway, or the gangway provided by the local port authority. Because many gangways are removable connecting fixed point between a floating object and the stationary docks or shoreline, they can create a variety of safety hazards to passengers if they are not properly maintained or supervised by the cruise ship employees and docking facility staff provided by cruise line operators.

Cruise lines control when and where you get off the ship. Thus, gangways, like any other surface must be kept safe, must be inspected, and must comply with certain rules and regulations both under international law, port regulations, and both and general maritime law. Gangways must be regularly maintained and provide adequate slip resistance especially under wet and dry conditions. MSC.1 Circular, 1.331, promulgated by the International Maritime Organization, provides guidelines for construction, installation, maintenance, inspection regarding gangways. Under these international regulations, the use of non-skid surfaces, handrails, adequate risers, treads, and safe floor surfaces are required safety features that all gangways must have in order to reduce the potential for a slip, trip and fall accidents for all marine going vessels.

The gangway type, size, angle of the gangway at the time of embarkation or disembarkation, in connection with the weather, sea, and tidal conditions are all factors which much be taken into account to ensure its reasonably safe. Our cruise ship accident lawyers represent cruise ship passengers injured in numerous gangway accidents. Common gangway accidents and injuries involving gangways that can occur are due to slipping on wet or slippery surface areas, steep inclines, steep declines, lack of crowd control, negligent supervision, and tripping over uneven panels, and other unsecure surfaces located at the top of the gangway where it meets the boat. Other gangway injuries often occur at the bottom of the gangway where gangway deck meets the dock resulting in tripping hazards.

Common gangway accidents may occur due to:

  • Steep inclines and declines due to the angle of the gangway
  • Lack of adequate tread
  • Failure to provide slip resistance
  • Dangerous gangway surfaces
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Negligent supervision
  • Overcrowding
  • Tripping hazards
  • Failure to monitor to the number of passengers during embarkation and disembarkation.
  • Failure to provide passenger assistance during embarkation and disembarkation

Other gangway accident cases and serious injuries may also result in passengers falling over the railings of the gangway, or if children or intoxicated passengers are not properly monitored. Even gangway collapses can occur due to faulty maintenance, passenger overload, or failure to monitor the number of passenger and improper deployment procedures by the cruise line company. Accidents on gangways are often very serious, and occur with regularity.

A Complicated Area of Law

As with any time when a person is injured due to the negligence of others, if you are injured in an accident involving a cruise ship gangway you may be entitled to compensation, either through a claim with the cruise line. Many cruise lines will lead you to believe that they are going to resolve your legal claim. You should not be fooled. Cruise lines companies impose a one year limitation for injured passengers to pursue legal claims and they also limit the forum or court of law where you can pursue litigation in the courts.

Other complicated aspects relate to ships and cruise lines very often make these difficult matters to pursue, and ones in which it is in a person's best interests to quickly retain a law firm specializing in cruise ship accidents. Because many gangway accidents occur in foreign or outside of the jurisdictional limits of the United States, questions often arise about the appropriate court for an injured person to bring a lawsuit in. In some situations, your case may be governed by General Maritime Law, which has significant differences from the "regular" law most attorneys and law firms are familiar with, and will require an attorney that is familiar with these issues. And, if your accident occurred at a port of call that is outside of the United States, which is a strong possibility when people are passengers on a cruise ship vacationing in exotic locations, the law governing your case may be that of a country other than the United States. This also makes it critical that you have an attorney with experience in cruise ship litigation and is prepared for these eventualities.

Contact An Experienced Florida Cruise Line Litigation Attorney

If you have suffered an injury involving a gangway or other accident while on a cruise ship, the Miami offices of Gerson & Schwartz, PA can provide the experienced legal help you need to get the recovery you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your potential claim and learn your options.

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