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Maritime Lawyer, Drowning Accidents

How Falling Overboard Injury and Death Occurs

Even the strongest of swimmers can find themselves in a life-or-death scenario should they fall overboard. Drowning accidents are frequently caused by unexpected falls overboard. Various causes of falling overboard  and drowning include:

  • The release of mooring lines at dock’s edge. It’s easy for workers to slip and fall into the water and drown, especially if they’re not wearing a life jacket.
  • Unlocking spreader cables on a barge. If no life ring or jacket is available, consequences can be deadly.
  • Working aboard a tugboat or barge. In many cases, the life-saving equipment on such vessels is defective.
  • Operating a Bobcat on a barge. Though you might not associate Bobcats with drowning, an unpredictable lurch can send someone overboard.
  • Closing covers on a hopper barge. Falls from barge covers can indeed be hazardous, especially without a life vest on.
  • Egress from a tramper vessel. When an inadequate Jacob’s ladder comes into play, falls onto the deck can occur.
  • Operating a front-end loader on an open deck barge. It’s surprisingly easy to drive right over the edge of the barge. Without a life vest on, tragedy occurs quickly.
  • Accessing a barge from a floating dock. In many cases, there is no safe access to the barge, causing workers to fall off and become crushed.
  • Operating a catwalk alone. Without co-workers keeping watch, a fall from a catwalk can be deadly.
  • Walking atop stacked containers. While containers may seem steady, falls are likely when spreader bars pull away.

Richard Serpe: Master of Laws in Maritime/Admiralty

The best personal injury attorney who devotes their practice to injuries occurring on land will be familiar with state law concepts.

Maritime matters, on the other hand, are governed by federal law. If you are injured in a maritime accident you need an attorney who understands these laws.

  • Master of Laws in Maritime: After law school, Richard Serpe obtained a Master of Laws in Admiralty law from Tulane University School of Law.
  • Proctor of Admiralty: He has obtained the highest ranking (Proctor) from the Maritime Law Association of the United States.
  • Jones Act Case Success: He has successfully prosecuted cases under the Jones Act, bringing fair and just compensation to those who were injured while performing their duties.
  • Protecting Injured Seamen: Richard Serpe has years of experience in protecting the rights of injured seamen. He knows how the insurers of commercial vessels will do everything they can to minimize their financial liability, even if it is at the expense of decent treatment for the injured.
  • Protecting Families: Richard Serpe has successfully settled cases for recreational boating victims that resulted in the death of a loved one by a maritime vessel.

Maritime Injury and Drowning Accident Lawyer

Sea workers face all sorts of injury risks, sometimes from the negligence of a shipowner or captain. One of those dangerous—and one of the most dangerous, at that—is falling overboard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falling overboard is “the second leading cause of death among commercial fishermen, nationwide.” This problem is severe enough that in 2010, the United States Congress passed the US Coast Guard Authorization Act, which was intended in part to prevent sailors and crew members from falling overboard.

Preventable Tragedies

Sadly, such tragedies still occur—and many of these falling-overboard events are entirely preventable. For instance, a crew member can fall overboard if he or she uses or leans against a handrail that has been improperly managed or is otherwise defective. As well, if a ship fails to warn its crew members of a rough or violent sea, then a crew member may be at risk for being pitched overboard if he or she steps outside during bad weather. And finally, a crew member can die after falling overboard if the ship fails to execute a timely or safe search and rescue effort.

Experienced Maritime Lawyer

These falls can happen on commercial vessels, but they can also happen on vessels such as cruise ships, as well. If you’re at sea, you’re at risk for falling overboard. If such an event occurs, you may want to contact an experienced Maritime Lawyer. Those in charge of a vessel are tasked with keeping her safe and keeping her crew free from harm. If you were seriously injured due to the negligence or error of a ship’s manager or other authorities, then it’s worth speaking to an experienced maritime lawyer.


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Kelli S., Portsmouth, VA
He listened carefully to our concerns and gave us honest legal advice
My husband and I worked with Richard for the past year and had a wonderful experience. At our first meeting, he did not push us to sign anything or make
- Kelli S., Portsmouth, VA
Shaniqua J., Winchester, VA
Richard Serpe, and his staff did a thorough investigation into the dog owner
My 7-year-old daughter was outside playing with friends in front of our home when she was viciously attacked by our neighbor’s Rottweiler. The Rottweiler dug a hole under the fence,
- Shaniqua J., Winchester, VA
Angela Woodson, Richmond, VA
Richard Serpe was able to get an excellent recovery for my daughter
When my daughter suffered an injury from lead poisoning, I did not know where to turn. There did not seem to be many lawyers who could help. The landlord responsible
- Angela Woodson, Richmond, VA
Elizabeth C., Virginia Beach, VA
Thank you Richard Serpe and your firm
This firm has been beside us through the whole process from when we first found out that our home had been built with Chinese drywall until justice was served. They
- Elizabeth C., Virginia Beach, VA
Mikhal Taylor, Richmond Virginia
The people who work for him were always great to work with
Richard Serpe handled the case for my daughter for injuries she received over 10 years ago. The people who work for him were always great to work with! They responded
- Mikhal Taylor, Richmond Virginia
Allena A., Eastern Shore of VA
Such a wonderful group of people to have by your side
Such a wonderful group of people to have by your side! Genuinely cares and wants to help you and your family 🙂
- Allena A., Eastern Shore of VA
Melissa Baumann, Norfolk, VA
Richard acted as my advocate, my friend, my partner and my champion
Within seconds of meeting with Richard Serpe, he identified a number of potential mistakes I was making – many of which could have been quite costly. Throughout the entire process,
- Melissa Baumann, Norfolk, VA
Art Serratelli, Virginia Beach Immigration Lawyer
I endorse this lawyer
I endorse this lawyer. Richard is an extremely intelligent person and a very kind man. Not only is Richard a top-notch attorney, but he also is very compassionate one. You
- Art Serratelli, Virginia Beach Immigration Lawyer
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