When a maritime-related personal injury occurs, Fisher Maritime can provide you the benefit of our experience in defending or asserting claims resulting from improper design, construction, operation, or training. The seafarer, the vessel passenger, and the shipyard worker are affected by a variety of codes, statutes, and standards. The injured's status (crewmember, passenger, etc.) under statutes such as the Jones Act may also be in question.
Our familiarity with these regulations, as well as industry custom and practice, enables us to develop analyses that are central to the issues. The synopses of some sample assignments have been included below to better familiarize oneself with the services we have provided that pertain to maritime personal injury matters.
Fisher Maritime analyzed the circumstances surrounding a seaman's fall to the bottom of a cargo tank from a tank entry ladder. We then compared the actual access to various worldwide standards for ladder and platform designs.
Although there were no regulatory standards applicable to that ship's ladder due to the ship being in a gap between flag-state requirements and classification requirements, the actual design violated every identified published standard. The defendant shipowner and its insurance company apparently agreed as the seaman received significant compensation from the shipowner well in advance of the trial date.
Pull-start outboard motors are outfitted with a safety feature that prevents the outboard from being started in gear -- only in neutral. In a particular case, the operator's manual cautioned the user to not try to start the motor in gear -- in other words, do not verify that the safety feature is operable. A severe personal injury resulted when an operator inadvertently started the motor in gear -- which occurred because the safety device had previously failed. According to the operator's manual and the design of the motor, there was no way a user could have determined that the safety feature had failed without having the outboard motor stripped down by a qualified technician.
Additional sample cases underscoring Fisher Maritime's experience are presented in the link below.
A shipboard pedestal crane malfunctioned when the ship came to a northeast US port after departing South America in February. As a result of a short-circuit caused by condensation within the control cabinet, the operator could not stop the crane from slewing when it was activated in the US port. A personal injury and shipboard damage resulted because the limit switches were inoperable.
The crux of the problem was that the limit switches could not be independently tested before crane operation. The crane manufacturer's operating manual dissuaded the crew from testing the limit switches by specifically stating that such testing may result in damage to the crane. Thus, at perhaps the only time in the crane's lifetime that the limit switches were vital to safety, they did not function.
An overnight stay aboard a small boat ended in asphyxiation by onboard generator exhaust. Fisher Maritime's analyses uncovered deficiencies in design, construction, and maintenance that led to the casualty. Our experts focused on the generator exhaust system, the electrical systems, the generator high-exhaust-temperature shutdown, the carbon monoxide detector, and the permeability of the machinery space bulkheads.