Gangway accidents are one of the most common reasons for both cruise ship passengers and crew members’ injuries. To embark and disembark these large vessels, passengers must use the gangplank. A gangplank is a removable ramp used to bridge the gap between the vessel to the dock. Unfortunately, these necessary devices can create many safety hazards for passengers.
If the gangway is not properly installed, supervised, inspected, or maintained, it may be dangerous. The International Maritime Organization set forth guidelines and safety features for creation, installation, and maintenance for gangways, which state that each gangway must be secure with slip resistant surfaces, railing, adequate risers, and grip treads.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also states that each side of the gangway must be equipped with midrails and handrails that are at least 33 inches high and made of wood, chain, wire, rope or pipe. The gangway must be well illuminated and free of crowding. Additionally, if the gangplank cannot completely meet the dock, a net must be placed below the gap to keep passengers from falling between the vessel and pier. Lastly, a lifebuoy, should be present and readily available for instant use within close vicinity of every gangway that is in use. These life rings should be self-lit and come with a buoyant lifeline.
Furthermore, there must be signs posted at the entrance of the gangway warning passengers of any potential, common dangers and safety precautions that come with using a gangplank. The most common dangers on a gangplank include:
- Uneven or wet surfaces
- Steep incline and decline of steps
- Negligent supervision and/or lack of training
- Inadequate tread
- Insufficient lighting
- Faulty railing
- Weather changes or shift in currents
All of these dangerous hazards can lead to serious injury or even death. Potential injuries that may be sustained are soft tissue damage of the neck, back and shoulders, torn ligaments, lacerations and contusions, fractured bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, disfigurement, drowning, and emotional distress.
If you suffer any of the injuries mentioned above, you may be entitled to compensation for any physical, mental, and financial damages. A fair settlement or judgment can include a reward for:
- Past, present and future medical expenses;
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity;
- Travel expenses; and
- Pain and suffering
Maritime law considers the gangplank as part of the ship, so the cruise line or owner of the vessel will be liable for any injuries caused by a gangway accident. If you or a loved one has been injured on a cruise ship, the Cardone Law Firm is here to help you. New Orleans personal injury attorney, Cliff Cardone has represented clients all over Louisiana for nearly 50 years. He is determined to help every client receive the compensation they deserve. Do not let the cruise line make it difficult for you to pursue your personal injury claim after an accident.