Accidents At Sea And Cruise Injury Claims
How to Claim for Accidents at Sea & Cruise Injuries
Ferries, cruise-liners and boats must comply with health and safety legislation. Most accidents can be avoided with adequate safety, training and planning
Sophie Davies Partner
Whether you are on the water for travel, work or pleasure, it is good to know that safety is the number one priority for vessel operators. However, things can and do go wrong. For example, this year 28 people died after their sightseeing boat capsized on the Danube. A month later, a 13-deck cruise ship crashed into a canal wharf and tourist boat in Venice, injuring five.
Setting aside these headline-grabbing boating accidents, there are many more common types of boat accidents, which may be more low-key but impact victims just the same. This month, we heard about INXS guitarist Tim Farris who lost a finger in a boating accident in 2015. The injury impacts on his ability to make a living. He said, ‘I don’t know if I will be able to play properly again’.
Common causes of accidents at Sea
Sadly, yet inevitably, accidents often arise from the most mundane causes. Outlined below are a few of the many causes of boating accidents throughout the world.
- Inexperienced crew: just like driving a car well, operating a boat requires practice and experience. Inexperienced crew are more likely to make mistakes are less likely to skillfully manage emergency situations.
- Inappropriate speed: again, just like driving, boating speeds should be adapted to their environment. Busy waterways will have slower speed limits to ensure that the operator has time to react to obstructions. In open water, the current, time of day and tide will need to be considered when determining a safe speed.
- Failure of equipment: all machines must be properly maintained to ensure that they operate safely and as they are designed to. Boats are no different. It is no good discovering during an emergency, that vital equipment is faulty.
- Disregarding weather warnings: poor visibility, changes of wind direction and storm warnings should be noted and acted upon. A sudden change in the weather could cause a small boat to capsize.
Other causes of injury caused by boat accidents may be due to slips, falls, trips, scalding from hot liquids or vapour, being struck by loose luggage and equipment and any other number of ways.
What is the Athens Convention?
For international shipping accidents, the relevant convention is known as the Athens Convention. It applies when you are travelling on a ship, ferry or other vessels.
The 1974 Athens Convention and its successor, the 2002 Protocol are agreed European Union regulations to do with the liability of water-going vessels and their insurers, and the values of any compensation awards.
Under the 2002 Protocol, vessels licensed to carry more than 12 passengers must hold liability insurance. In addition, the liability limits were also raised for death and personal injury, to between SDR 250,000 to SR 400,000 depending on circumstances. Finally, it was determined that an advance payment must be made to a victim or their family, to cover any financial shortcomings in the immediate aftermath of a death or injury.
Under the Athens Conventions, the shipping company is responsible for any injuries suffered while on the vessel or during embarkation/disembarkation. It works in much the same way as the Montreal Convention, except there is no ‘strict liability.’
This means you will have to show that the accident was caused by the fault or negligence of the shipping company or its employees to make a successful claim.
Can you claim compensation for an accident at sea?
The ins-and-outs of claiming compensation for an injury arising from an accident on board a vessel can be tricky, depending on the cause of the accident and where in the world it happened and whether the boat was moored or not.
It could be that you are covered under the Athens Convention and the 2002 Protocol or that you fall under the jurisdiction of a particular country. For this reason, it is strongly advised that you speak to an informed, specialist lawyer as soon as possible if you think you may have a valid claim.
What if my travel was part of a package holiday?
If you booked your sea travel as part of a package holiday, then a claim may be made against the tour operator under English law.
Your solicitor can help you decide who to claim against for the best chance of securing compensation.
How long do I have to make a claim?
The Athens Convention has a strict time limit of two years from the date of disembarking the vessel.
If the claim is not issued in this time period, the right to compensation is extinguished. This is absolute; no exceptions. Therefore, it is important to act quickly if you are thinking about making a claim.
How do I make a claim?
If you have been injured on board a ship, try to gather as much evidence as you can to give yourself the best chance to secure compensation. You can do this by:
- Taking photographs of the area where the accident happened
- Recording the names and contact details of any witnesses
- Reporting the incident to the carrier
- Recording details of any medical treatment you received, either on board, at your travel destination, or when you return home
- Keeping receipts to prove your expenses
The next step is to contact a solicitor who is experienced in international travel accident claims as soon as you return home. Both the Montreal and Athens Conventions give UK-based passengers the right to claim compensation through the English courts, no matter where the accident happened. You will not need to hire a foreign lawyer or issue proceedings overseas.
Proof of liability
For a higher value claim to be successful, liability must be proven. This means that intentional fault must be attributed to the vessel company. This liability is not always clear or proven in court, despite obvious deaths or injuries. Last month, a Paris court rejected a compensation claim rising from the sinking of an Estonian ferry in 1994, in which 852 people were killed. More than 1000 survivors and the relatives of the victims were seeking £36 million in compensation.
An investigation found that the locks on the ferry’s front door had breached under the force of the waves, resulting in flooding of the car deck, but the French court determined that compensation claims were not lawful as there was no attributable intentional fault.
Speak to us about an accident at sea
For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811
Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you
"Osbornes always provides work of excellent quality and the advice is sound."
"The firm has the ability to handle the most sophisticated and complex matters."
"Osbornes is always client-focused and works tirelessly to obtain the best outcomes."
'The team deals with multi-million pound, often multifaceted claims, involving such factors as severe brain, psychiatric, gynaecological and spinal injury, major trauma, amputation and fatality.'
"They are a boutique firm with highly experienced partners who are well-respected in the industry."
"The team at Osbornes deals with catastrophic injury claims with the same professionalism as the largest firms, but provides a much more client-focused experience."
"A really first-rate team, well capable of dealing with the most serious and complex injuries."
"This team has carved out an exceptional reputation in catastrophic injury work."
"Osbornes has impressed me with their personal touch for clients whilst offering a first-class handling of catastrophic injury claims. The partners all have vast experience and are highly respected in their field."
"This is a really excellent personal injury team that can be regarded as one of the major players in the London claimant personal injury market."
"Osbornes have managed to recruit a team of outstanding catastrophic injury lawyers who are at the top of the game."
"They punch well above their weight. The quality of service they provide equals that of any of the larger top-name firms in this area"
Ben Posford is fiercely bright, with an unrivalled passion for his clients’ cases. His encyclopaedic knowledge of all things PI is second to none. His foresight and commercial nous have propelled Osbornes into the highest echelons of the market where they rightly belong.
The firm has an excellent and innovative line in cases involving non-English speaking claimants, managed by recruiting paralegals with multi-language skills – an impressive route for expansion of the caseload.
Great expanding team with expertise and respect in the sector. Led by a commercially savvy and business minded team.
A really excellent group of PI solicitors, notable for their individual quality.’
A niche firm that punches well above its weight in the catastrophic injury sector, borne out by the quality of work they obtain.
This combination of experience and diligence reaps massive rewards for clients, Osbornes being well known in the industry as a fantastic firm.
The Osbornes personal injury team now comprises some of the most technically adept and hard hitting lawyers in the business.
Ben Posford is one of London’s best catastrophic injury lawyers, in my view. He is a real brain injury specialist.
Excellent coverage of personal injury, and traumatic brain injury. There is a real specialism in claimants who do not speak English as a first language.
The group is noted for its expertise in matters relating to cycling injuries, and is the official legal partner of the London Cycling Campaign charity.
To complement its strong reputation for high-value and complex personal injury work, the firm continues to develop its 'excellent and innovative line in cases involving non-English speaking claimants'
"Osbornes comprises some of the most technically adept and hard hitting lawyers in the business"
"A small but high-powered team, dealing with cases of significant value and complexity."
"An excellent firm which achieves fantastic outcomes for clients."
"Osbornes Law have captured the magic of keeping the customer service levels of a smaller firm whilst having all the expertise and power of the biggest firms."
"A superb boutique catastrophic injury firm."
"Really good at dealing with people who have suffered a serious injury."
"Affable and charming with very good client-handling skills."
"superb firm with consummate professionals and a human touch."
Osbornes now has a team of highly experienced personal injury lawyers; particularly strong on high-value quantum cases, workplace accidents and claims involving foreign workers injured in the UK.
The team provides fantastic strength-in-depth for personal injury claims. It is also particularly well placed to service clients from Eastern Europe with specialist native language speakers. From the smallest case to a multimillion-pound spinal injury case, Osbornes has the right staff to manage every claim.
Ben Posford remains pre-eminent in his field with expert understanding of litigating cases of the upmost severity. His experience builds on Stuart Kightley’s running of the firm with recent partner additions of Rob Aylott making a fantastic addition.
A firm going from strength-to strength-which retains its client care whilst being able to offer a full personal injury service.
Beneath Ben Posford’s calm and reassuring presence, which clients love, lies a formidable tactical and legal brain. His experience tells and he gets it right at every stage of the process from arranging the best possible rehabilitation, to ensuring, so far as possible, a polite relationship with those acting for the defendant in order to ensure best and early resolution of the claim.
"Clients say he is very impressive, in terms of both his experience and his management of the personal injury team."
"They have an expanding profile in personal injury and clinical negligence and offer a superb, broad service in accidents abroad, enabled by their recruitment of bilingual legal executives who can guide non-English speakers through complex litigation."
"Solid personal injury practice well equipped to advise on high-value and high-profile claims arising from fatalities and severe head and spinal injuries."
"Offers specialist expertise in cycling-related injury claims."
"Offers specialist expertise in cauda equina syndrome cases."
"An exceptional outfit. They take on difficult cases, fight hard and win."
"Stuart Kightley is an incredibly empathetic solicitor who is very knowledgeable about traumatic brain injury."
"They are an outstanding firm to work with. They are consistently impressive in their work."
"Osbornes often handles claims valued at over £1m, particularly relating to severe brain and spinal cord injuries and niche areas such as cauda equina syndrome and cycling accidents."
"The hard-working, thorough and committed Robert Aylott, who brings significant heavyweight personal injury experience."
"Key team members include the energetic and personable Stuart Kightley who is head of the personal injury department."
"Osbornes has a growing influence and impressive work load and is gaining a reputation for handling complex catastrophic work."
"Catastrophic injury cases head Ben Posford is an excellent practical litigator who offers exceptional service."
"Stuart is also very experienced in advising on fatal accidents and workplace accidents."
Thank you for the hard work and patience and for being so patient with my constant questions.
"I have found Osbornes to be thorough, clear and understanding from the initial call. They do exactly what they say they will and with passion! I would recommend them to anyone".
Very good efficient service. Would not hesitate to use again.
I will use Osbornes for any future needs.
I don't think I could have asked for anything more. One of the best dealings I've had with the legal profession.
Sam was excellent and very professional in dealing with our claim.
Head of the personal injury department, Stuart Kightley is a first-rate practitioner, wholly focused on getting his client the best outcome in a pragmatic, sensible and consensual manner.
As a real specialist in spinal cord injuries, Ben Posford is always looking at new angles on how to maximise his cases.
Ben Posford is one of the best catastrophic injury lawyers around.
They provide exceptional service, great knowledge and understanding of the law, excellent client care and tactical nous
Stuart Kightley is praised for his expertise in catastrophic and fatal claims. Clients say he is very impressive, in terms of both his experience and his management of the personal injury team.
My claim was dealt with efficiently and professionally. Communication was excellent, and timely. Shrewd and sound advice was provided at every stage of the claim from beginning through to completion. On the basis of my personal experience I would strongly recommend Osbornes.
I just wish to thank you for your hard work and successful outcome. I am pleased with the result and would recommend you and your firm to anyone in the future.
Ben Posford … is ‘tactically astute’ and ‘one of the best personal injury solicitors around’.
Ben Posford ‘knows how to maximise the value of the claim for his clients’.
Related InsightsVIEW ALL
Case Law: Dementia-Induced Mild Cognitive Impairment
Dementia is a harsh reality for increasing numbers of families. Sadly, it means the disputed wills solicitors at Osbornes Law...Read more
Declaration of Trust for Property
If you are buying a property jointly, you may want to consider making a declaration of trust to record your...Read more
If you have been excluded or removed from a property by your landlord who has failed to obtain and execute...Read more
Lease Extension Negligence
What is Lease Extension Negligence? Solicitors Negligence when a Tenant claims a new lease of a flat under the Leasehold...Read more
Overlooking Nuisance Claims
Overlooking Nuisance Claims – net curtains not necessarily! I refer to the article https://osborneslaw.com/blog/overlooking-nuisance-claims-buy-some-net-curtains/ which concerned the...Read more
Rent Repayment Order: Rakusen v Jepsen
Rakusen v Jepsen & Others 2023 Judgement was given in this case on the 1st March 2023 and when it was settled...Read more
Leasehold Reform expected by end of 2023
The government announced in 2021 the introduction of various leasehold reforms which will affect the leasehold system for properties in England...Read more
Cycling Accident Claims: Client Stories
GP Awarded £1m Settlement Kate Milton, a Senior Associate at Osbornes Law settled a cycling accident claim for a 52-year-old...Read more
German Court Rules on EU Succession Regulation
Succession laws vary from country to country which historically made the administration of cross-border estates potentially complex. Since 17 August 2015, the...Read more
Success in Court of Appeal in child disability...
The Court of Appeal has today handed judgment in the case of Harrington v Secretary of State for Work and...Read more
£250,000 settlement for client injured in forklift truck accident
Sophie Davies, a specialist personal injury lawyer at Osbornes Law, recently represented a client who suffered life-changing injuries following a...Read more
Osbornes Instructed After Local Authority Data Breach
Osbornes Law have recently negotiated a settlement on behalf of two clients who had their personal information inadvertently released to...Read more
Accident at Work Client Stories
£20,000 for Industrial Injury Claim Enviro-Strip (UK) Ltd have been ordered to pay £20,000 in accident at work compensation after a worker...Read more
Parenting Talk With Noël Janis-Norton
Osbornes Law are delighted to be hosting internationally known parenting expert, Noël Janis-Norton, who will be delivering the talk:...Read more
Is England/Wales the Right Jurisdiction for Your Divorce? When it comes to getting divorced, London has a lot of...Read more
Private Pregnancy Scans and Substandard Care
In the news, it has been reported that private clinics that offer pregnancy scans to women are not meeting the...Read more
Unmarried couples who live together do not have the same legal protection as married couples and civil partners when they...Read more
Does it matter if you’re a breadwinner...
When it comes to deciding how wealth is split, English courts do not discriminate based on your role within the...Read more
Understanding Parental Responsibility Parental responsibility is the legal term used to describe the duties and responsibilities that parents have for...Read more
Are trusts protected from divorce?
Can trusts protect an inheritance from your spouse? A trust is a separate legal entity. Neither spouse owns its assets. ...Read more
Is a limited company protected from divorce?
Is my spouse entitled to half of my business? If you are involved in running a limited company, then it...Read more
How is a pension split in a divorce?
Pensions and Divorce In a divorce, pensions are taken into account together with all other financial assets. Once all assets...Read more
Who gets the house in a divorce?
How is a house divided in a UK divorce? For most people contemplating divorce, one of the main concerns will...Read more
5-figure settlement for infusion leak to mother
Elline Demetriou has reached another successful outcome for a Claimant, who pursued a post C-section birth injury to mother claim...Read more