Admiralty and Maritime Lawyers

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Miami injury lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey has extensive experience representing victims who are involved in admiralty and maritime law cases. Located in Miami, Florida, Hickey Law Firm, P.A. is an admiralty law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of cruise ship passengers and seamen injured as a result of cruise ship accidents, cruise ship assaults and other maritime-related hazards. We represent people from all over the world against cruise lines and others.

If you or someone you love has been injured on a vessel, either as a passenger or as an employee, and you believe you have a case involving admiralty and maritime law, contact our Miami-based law office today. A knowledgeable Miami accident lawyer can review your case and advise you of your rights.

Admiralty and Maritime Law

At Hickey Law Firm, P.A., we have substantial experience representing people with admiralty and maritime law claims in the Miami area. Admiralty and maritime law are specialized areas of the law that regulate accidents and injuries of the crew (seamen) and of passengers on ships, yachts and recreational boats.

Miami injury lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey represented cruise lines and shipping companies for 17 years before representing victims. Now he represents only passengers and crew (seamen) of cruise lines and shipping companies. If you were injured as a passenger in a cruise ship accident or on any other type of recreational boat or watercraft, maritime attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey can assist you in filing a personal injury claim to help ensure you obtain just compensation for medical costs, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. If a loved one has been killed, we can help your family file a wrongful death case.

Hickey is Past Chair of the Admiralty Law Committee for The Florida Bar, and he is Past Chair of the Admiralty Law Section of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and of the Florida Admiralty Trial Lawyers Association (FLATLA). Hickey has lectured on admiralty and maritime law for 25 years to various organizations, including The Florida Bar and the AAJ. Rest assured that your case will be treated with the due care it deserves and your rights will be protected if you have been injured in a maritime accident.

The Jones Act

Congress passed a maritime law called the Jones Act to protect seamen who work on ships, offshore oil rigs and other sea-going vessels, such as barges, riverboats and fishing boats, in the event of an injury accident. Under the Jones Act, a seaman is entitled to recover damages if he or she is injured during employment. If a seaman is injured or killed because of negligence or because of defective equipment, the employer may be liable. Federal courts have determined that the term “seaman” extends to people who are employed on a vessel to assist in the main purpose of the voyage, and whose duties are rendered on vessels engaged in commerce or trade. The Jones Act can also cover inland river workers and offshore workers, as well as divers and underwater personnel.

Much like FELA, the Jones Act does not work in the same way that workers’ compensation law does. In a case involving the Jones Act, the plaintiff must prove that the employer was negligent and, therefore, at fault for his or her injury. The statute of limitations for a maritime law injury suit by a seaman is three years, so it is imperative that you Contact our Miami-based law office right away to speak with a Miami and Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer experienced in admiralty law cases. At Hickey Law Firm, P.A., attorney Hickey offers invaluable legal counsel and years of experience dealing with maritime cases to those in need.

Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010

WHAT THE ACT IS. The Act provides minimal regulation of certain crimes onboard cruise ships. The regulations are designed to prevent certain crimes and to require some reporting of certain crimes. This Act is a compromise. The cruise lines and their lobbying group, the Cruise Line International Association, were allowed to provide input into the process. These groups have a lot of money to contribute to politicians and so they have a lot of power. The cruise lines kept the regulations down to a minimum, resulting in an Act with regulations that, for the most part, were already being implemented. If the cruise lines violate the Act, the violation is considered negligence in itself, or at least evidence of negligence.

WHAT THE ACT IS NOT. The Act does not define or even come close to a base line or minimum effort with which the cruise lines must comply. In other words, just because a cruise line complies with the Act does not mean or imply that the cruise line has acted safely or reasonably to prevent cruise ship sexual assault or other crimes. They can still be negligent by failing to incorporate other measures that the Act does not even address. The definition of negligence is acting unreasonably.

The cruise lines know that cruise ships have certain crimes onboard. These crimes often involve sexual assault, sexual battery and rape. The measures described in the Act certainly are not enough for the cruise lines to prevent these crimes. The cruise lines should have and enforce additional rules in their babysitting programs, camps, and teen programs and events to prevent these offenses. Some, but not all, of the measures cruise lines must take to prevent cruise ship assaults include keeping certain age groups separated, monitoring the activities of the kids and of persons around the kids, responding to complaints by passengers about the suspicious activities of passengers or crew and doing what it takes to prevent these incidents from happening on the ships.

HISTORY OF THE ACT. Congress enacted the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010. The legislation was proposed at first by a group of people who have suffered from the negligence of the cruise lines in failing to prevent crimes onboard its ships. Ultimately, the bill was a series of compromises by Congress based on pressure from the cruise lines themselves and the cruise line trade organization and lobbying group, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). These compromises require much of what the cruise lines already were doing and fail to require cruise lines to retrofit much of the cabins and cruise ships. For that reason, the Act may have little or no effect in the future.

RAILS. The Act has requirements for vessel design, equipment, construction and retrofitting. The Act requires that the rails on the vessel be located not less than 42 inches above the cabin deck. This may or may not prevent someone from falling overboard.

CABIN DOORS. The Act does require that stateroom and crew cabins be equipped with entry doors that include peepholes or other means of visual identification. Any vessels, the construction of which was started after commencement of the Act, are required to have security latches and time sensitive key technology on passenger cabins and crew cabins. The Act also requires that vessels use technology to capture images of passengers who have fallen overboard to the extent that technology is available.

PASSENGER GUIDE. The Act requires vessels to have available for each passenger a guide which describes medical and security personnel designated on board to prevent and respond to criminal and medical situations and that describes which admiralty jurisdiction is applicable. That is, the brochure will have contact information for law enforcement.

SEXUAL ASSAULT READINESS. The Act requires that vessels maintain supplies of anti-retroviral medications designed to prevent STDs and maintain equipment and materials for performing medical examination in sexual assault cases. It also requires that the ship evaluate the patient for trauma, provide medical care, preserve relevant medical evidence and make available on the vessel at all times medical staff who have certain credentials. The cruise line has to verify that the medical personnel possess a current physician’s or registered nurse’s license and have at least three years of post-graduate or post-registration clinical practice in general and emergency medicine or hold board certification in emergency medicine, family practice or internal medicine. These standards have been in place through the Cruise Ship Committee of the American College of Emergency Room Physicians for a number of years.

Under the sexual assault provision, the Act also requires that the patient be afforded free and immediate access to contact information for law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Coast Guard and other authorities by private telephone line and internet access through a computer terminal.

SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION. In order to prevent sexual assault, the Act provides that crew access to passenger staterooms be limited or that the owner of a vessel shall establish and implement procedures restricting which crewmembers have access to staterooms. It does not say what those procedures and restrictions should be.

RECORD KEEPING. The Act requires that the vessel owner maintain a logbook and have reporting requirements for “all complaints of crimes” as described in the Act and “all complaints of other crimes committed on any voyage that embarks or disembarks passengers in the United States.” That logbook has to be made available upon request to any agent of the FBI, any member of the United States Coast Guard, and any law enforcement officer performing official duties in the course and scope of an investigation.

REPORTING OF INCIDENTS. Finally, the Act requires that the Department of Transportation “maintain a statistical compilation of all incidents described in paragraph (3)(A)(i) on an internet site that provides a numerical accounting of the missing persons and alleged crimes recorded in each report filed under paragraph (3)(A)(i) that are no longer under investigation by the FBI. The data shall be updated no less frequently than quarterly, aggregated by cruise line. Each cruise line shall be identified by name, and each crime shall be identified as to whether it was committed by a passenger or a crew member.”

This, of course, excludes reporting of crimes which are not homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, any offense to which section 2241, 2242, 2243, or 2244(a) or (c) of title 18 applies, firing or tampering with the vessel, or theft of money or property in excess of $10,000. [Paragraph(3)(A)(i)]

Because the cruise lines are required to report these certain crimes — not all crimes — on to the Department of Transportation, which then reports the information on an internet site, the cruise lines have an incentive not to fully report all such crimes. It is our experience that the cruise lines tend to under-report. The cruise lines, some better than others, under-report cruise ship accidents, cruise ship injuries and cruise ship crimes that occur on each ship.

Contact Our Maritime and Admiralty Attorneys in Miami, Florida

State and federal courts have jurisdiction in maritime law cases. If you think you have an admiralty or maritime law case, it is important to seek representation from an experienced attorney who can advise you of your rights to fair compensation. To schedule a personal consultation with an admiralty and maritime law attorney, contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A. in Miami, Florida today. We have obtained significant verdicts and settlements for our clients.

OUR MISSION is to provide to you, the honest, seriously injured person, the advice you need, the representation you want, and the compensation you deserve. By doing this, we correct unsafe places, procedures, conditions and products on cruise ships, stores, commercial facilities, at work and at home.

We represent honest, seriously injured people in cases of personal injury, wrongful death, cruise ship accidents, maritime accidents, boating accidents, aviation and airplane crashes, slip and falls, trip and falls, car accidents, truck accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, professional negligence, wrongful prescriptions, sexual assault, assault and battery and negligent security. We help families whose loved one has suffered a wrongful death and injury victims with permanent impairments or disabilities, such as orthopedic injuries, which include broken bones or torn ligaments or tendons; injuries to the organs; neurological injuries; traumatic brain injury, which can cause permanent brain damage; burn injuries; psychological injuries from trauma or scarring and disfigurement.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a maritime accident, contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A. today to get the legal support you need. Call toll free today for a free consultation: 1-800-215-7117.