August 21, 2012 8:53 AM
MIAMI/MARIGOT--Victims of the July 19 Loterie Farm tour bus crash are seeking legal representation to make sure their rights are preserved, according to an article on the Website
Six of the bus passengers from Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise ship were treated for minor injuries and shock while the driver of a taxi van with which the bus collided also was injured.
The driver of the bus with 39 passengers on board en route for Loterie's zip line excursion lost control as the bus was descending the road into Loterie Farm. The bus collided with the taxi before ending up against an embankment in a shallow ravine. The investigators' conclusions on the cause of the accident are still awaited.
Cruise industry representatives have long argued about the extent to which the cruise lines are duty-bound to ensure the safety of their passengers while on on-shore excursions. (See Smolnikar v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., 787 F. Supp. 2d 1308, 1322 (S.D. Fla. 2011).
"This is a unique area of the law, because you are dealing with incidents which occur in foreign countries, which raises issues regarding personal jurisdiction; that is, whether a court in Florida has power over a foreign defendant. Nonetheless, every victim has rights, and we do our best to protect them," said Miami cruise accident lawyer Michael Winkleman.
Winkleman tries personal injury cases with a focus on maritime law for the firm of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman P.A. The law firm has made numerous successful recoveries for clients who were involved in on-shore excursion accidents.
"Our firm prides itself on preparing and trying the cases we handle. We do not advertise on the Web to attract new clients who are then farmed out to another law firm as a referral.
"That practice is fairly commonplace in the profession. When the cruise ship company falls short of its own duties under the law passengers have legal recourse to recover damages. Many of the passengers will incur medical bills well into the future for treatment required for healthy living, and in some cases to limit the intensity of the lasting pain."
Medical care is just one form of damages injured passengers are entitled to recover. Other items include pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment or life, mental anguish, disfigurement, bodily injury, loss of earning and earning capacity in the past and into the future.
"At this stage, just three weeks after the incident, the full extent of the victims' injuries and damages are unknown, but it goes without saying that the victims are lucky to have even survived the incident," said Winkleman.
Cruise injury lawyers combine the knowledge and expertise of civil litigation and personal injury with knowledge of the principles relevant to law in international waters, or in foreign ports of call. They are well versed in the specific laws that govern cruise lines and protect cruise ship passengers.
There are approximately 90,000 attorneys in Florida alone. Picking the right attorney is of the utmost importance. A number of the victims in the recent St. Martin incident have retained Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman to represent their interests. Michael Winkleman is an associate with the firm founded in Miami in 1971.
"We are pleased that so many of the victims of this unfortunate incident have chosen us to represent them," he said. "Shore excursion cases such as this often face difficult legal hurdles, many of which stem from the cruise line trying to enforce the tiny fine print in the passenger ticket contract, which is little more than a tool designed to deprive its passengers of their rights.
"We look forward to working tirelessly on our clients' behalf in order to obtain for them the maximum recovery under the law, and to continue to shape the law regarding shore excursion liability."
(The Daily Herald)