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Lifeboat Accidents


Even safety protocol and life saving equipment can cause cruise ship injuries and deaths when the proper care and attention are not given, or when equipment fails due to poor construction, manufacturing, or maintenance. Such was the case of a 2016 tragedy aboard the world’s largest cruise ship, the Harmony of the Sea. Late in 2016 during a safety abandon ship drill, a lifeboat fell 33 feet into the ocean from the fifth deck, killing one crew member and seriously injuring four others, all of whom were aboard the lifeboat at the time of the fall, according to Fox News. According to the Deputy Mayor of Marseille, France, the location of the tragic accident, “It seems the people didn’t get the time to secure themselves so the fall was quite a violent one, like if you or me fell around 10 meters from a building.” Earlier that same year, another crew member was killed and three others seriously injured during a similar incident aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway, according to World Maritime News. The incident occurred while the ship was docked near Bermuda during a rescue drill when the lifeboat unexpectedly broke loose and plummeted down into the ocean.

How Lifeboat Accidents Happen and Determining Who is to Blame

While the previous two stories did not involve any passengers, such is not always the case with cruise ship or charter boat lifeboat accidents. Similarly, other injuries and even fatalities can occur when objects are being hoisted or lifted with cranes, rope, rigging, or chains. Seawater, heavy use, and other factors all create rough conditions for even the toughest materials to hold together, and when constant maintenance and inspections fail to take place, lives can be lost. Common reasons for lifeboat accidents and other falling object accidents to occur include:

  • Improper use of equipment or inexperience on the crew’s part;
  • Poor training of the crew;
  • Crew or management negligence;
  • Rigging errors;
  • Loading negligence (during loading and unloading of supplies and other equipment);
  • Lack of maintenance and upkeep of equipment;
  • Manufacturing error;
  • Construction error;
  • Cruise ship company negligently cutting corners by cutting cost; and
  • Extremely rough conditions.

For crew members, who enjoy protection under the Jones Act and the doctrine of seaworthiness the mere occurrence can impose liability on the employer/shipowner.

When passengers or crew members are injured or killed by falling objects, lifeboat failures, or other accidents, the cruise ship, employer or ship/boat owner shall be held financially responsible for those injuries. An attorney can help determine the cause of the accident and hold that party liable for damages, both of which are necessary for seeking a fair settlement or winning a civil lawsuit in court.

Do Not Hesitate to Call a Miami Maritime Attorney Today  

If you or a loved one were injured by a falling lifeboat, another falling object, or injured in another type of lifeboat accident at sea or in port, you need the assistance of an experienced Miami maritime accident attorney. We encourage you to call the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. today at 305-359-1999 today.




  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

It's Your Time To Win

Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998