Cruise Ship- Accidents and Injuries- Gangway Injuries

Gangways are walkways that are used by passengers and crew to embark and disembark from a ship. To ensure the safety of everyone boarding a cruise ship, gangways are inspected regularly to detect any issues that require maintenance or to remove any obstacles that can cause injuries.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act imposes regulations for cruise ships to implement measures to ensure the safety and security of their passengers embarking or disembarking in the United States. Nevertheless, incidents of boarding accidents and injury are reported each year.

Proving Negligence

Boarding injuries are not only sustained by trips and falls but may also occur when a gangway is not properly secured. Maintenance crews should inspect them before use, to ensure that all spills are cleaned up, and no obstacles are left on the walkway that could cause accidents.

There are several industry safety standards that must be followed to prevent incidents of this kind. Failure to do so would constitute negligence on the part of the crew responsible.

In the past, there have been a few high-profile gangway accidents:

  • A passenger negotiating a gangway on the Norwegian Jade fell and suffered injuries to the left side of her body. She alleged the accident was due to negligence and filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian Cruise Line.
  • Passengers were disembarking from the MSC Fantasia in Palma, Majorca in Spain when a strong gust of wind dislodged it from its moorings. One passenger sustained head injuries and three crew members landed in the water.
  • In 2010, a Spanish woman was killed when the gangway of the MSC Splendida collapsed and fell more than 30 feet into the water at the Italian port of Genoa. Her husband sustained severe head injuries.
  • In 2003, a gangway gave way on the Queen Mary 2 while it was docked in St. Nazaire in France. Maritime workers and their families were on the gangway at the time of the incident, boarding the ship for a special tour before its maiden voyage. The gangway collapsed and fell about 50 feet, killing 13 people and injuring 32.

All safety precautions should be strictly adhered to when securing a gangway. If these standards are ignored, the risk of an accident is enhanced. Injured crew members must prove negligence on the part of fellow workers or the shipping company in order to claim compensation.

Claiming Compensation

Anyone injured on board a cruise ship can be due compensation under the maritime law. Passengers injured in such accidents must initiate action by filing a lawsuit against the shipping line. The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) requires cruise ship operators to provide proof that they have the financial means to settle any claims for passenger injury.

Maritime workers including the crew aboard cruise ships are protected under the provisions of the Jones Act. Following a gangway injury that may be attributed to negligence, crew members may claim compensation under the Act. Claims must be filed within three years of the date of injury.

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