October 25, 2004

P&I warning on pilot personal injury claims

The London P&I Club is stressing the need to provide ships' crew and visitors with safe passageways as they go about their business, to avoid potentially significant personal injury claims.

The London Club's latest StopLoss Bulletin looks at a claim made by a Mississippi river pilot who slipped while leaving a club member's bulk carrier, which had just completed loading a cargo of grain.

The pilot claimed damages of over $2 million. He alleged that a combination of humid/dewy weather, compounded by earlier rainfall, as well as grain dust blown about the ship's Ędeck during loading, had created the slippery deck conditions in which he fell and injured his shoulder.

He also alleged a failing on the part of the crew to clear a grain-free path between the ship's accommodation block and the pilot ladder.

P&I attorneys reported that the shipowner had a number of defense arguments, especially since it seemed clear that it was impossible to avoid grain dust on deck during loading. It would also have been against the law for the crew to have washed the grain dust from the deck during passage down the Mississippi.

The Club says, "These defenses were reflected in the favorable settlement that it was possible to negotiate on the shipowner's behalf. But the case nevertheless illustrates the importance of precautions to provide visitors and crew with safe, non-slip passageways as they go about their business."

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