Injuries from Improper Vessel Piloting & Navigation

Commercial vessel in navigation on water with full cargo container load on blue water


The captain of a ship is one of the most critical roles someone can play onboard a vessel.

Broadly speaking, the captain is responsible for the safety of both the vessel, the cargo, and its crew, and every decision the captain makes can affect the well-being and livelihood of everyone onboard the vessel. 

The decisions perhaps most likely to endanger anyone aboard the vessel are all related to piloting and navigation. We’re all familiar with tales of boats colliding with one another, or with obstructions of various kinds in the sea, and while a number of factors are to blame for these tragic accidents, improper piloting is frequently a contributing factor.


Causes of Improper Ship Navigation & Piloting

Modern vessels are more complex than ever before, and without proper training and oversight, a lot can go wrong when the vessel is in navigation. A few of the more common causes of these accidents include:

  • Over-reliance on radar, where a captain relies solely on the radar screen and not secondary forms of navigation or watchfulness
  • Misuse of Safety Management System, where the navigation is performed based on the Safety Management System without taking into account any other forms of navigation or vessel security
  • Ignoring or misreading buoys, leading to collisions with other vessels in the area
  • Improperly monitored rudder angle, leading to errors in the chain of command or confusion among navigators
  • Misreading of weather conditions, leading to a much rougher course than anticipated

Any one of these, or a combination thereof, can lead to accidents, property damage, and injury among the crew.


Common Injuries From Improper Navigation

Improper navigation, more often than not, leads to collisions between two vessels, or the vessel and a stationary object such as a dock or an obstruction in the water. These collisions are frequently serious, and are a very common cause of injury and damage among the crew and any items aboard the vessel. Injuries like this can include, but are not limited to:

  • Falling injuries when a crew member is knocked over or loses balance during the collision
  • The risk of a man overboard scenario, when the collision is strong enough to knock a crew member off the vessel and into the waters
  • Cargo toppling over and injuring a worker, or being damaged in its container
  • Damage to the vessel causing wires or pipes to be damaged, leading to a risk of electrocution or burn injuries

Whatever the resulting injury, improper captaining or navigation can be a major cause of injuries and accidents onboard a vessel – accidents that could’ve been prevented, in many cases.


What Can I Do If I Am Injured By Improper Captaining or Navigation?

If a mistake or dangerous decision made by your captain has led to you and/or your crewmates getting injured on the job, the first thing you should do is seek immediate medical attention. Once this has been done, you should contact the maritime lawyers of O’Bryan Law. We can help determine the cause of your injuries, and help you fight for the justice and compensation you deserve, no matter how serious or life-changing your accident may have been.