Cruise Ship Injury Claims
Most cruise ship passengers enjoy trips to places like Fort Lauderdale or Miami, Florida, without incident. Other than sea sickness or a hangover in Hawaii or Alaska, things go well on most major cruise lines. But accidents do occur—sometimes, as a result of the cruise ship operator's negligence. The process of filing a lawsuit for a cruise ship injury is dictated by a combination of:
- Maritime law (and rules for international waters);
- Federal regulations and state law; and
- Private agreements or cruise ticket contracts
For instance, you may have a shore excursion contract with Holland America, Carnival, Princess Cruises, or Royal Caribbean. The cruise ship agreement might have a forum selection clause. This means the agreement might limit claims to a specific geographic location, so you may only bring a complaint to the courts near the U.S. port where your ship departed. There may be additional limitations or disclaimers on the back of your ticket.
What To Do if You're Hurt on a Cruise Ship Accident
A cruise ship injury may result from a travel accident. If you are injured at sea or a port of call, you should:
- Report the incident immediately
- Get the names and contact information of any cruise passengers or crew members who can back your claim
- Obtain written eyewitness statements
- Take photos where appropriate
- File your claim within the time limits provided under passenger ticket disclaimers and under law
Slip and Fall Accidents
There are plenty of opportunities for passengers to suffer slip and fall injuries. Most cruise ships have pools, restaurants, venues for dancing, and sometimes slippery decks. Taking pictures of the conditions that led to the injury helps. For example, a rusted or slippery gangway might be powerful photographic evidence that the ship violated its duty of care. Photographs of the injury itself (if applicable) can go a long way, too. Additionally, you should document whether the cruise ship company gave adequate warning of a slippery or dangerous condition.
A single batch of tainted food can spread and cause cruise ship liability. For example, norovirus (commonly called “stomach flu") can spread due to the close proximity of passengers. The terms and limitations printed on a passenger ticket sometimes allow for refunds in the case of food poisoning. But an accident attorney may be able to review your case for a potential negligence lawsuit.
According to the Cruise Victims Association, many cruise ship passengers have been reported missing over the years. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was signed into law in 2011, requiring ships to report all disappearances and crimes involving U.S. citizens to the Coast Guard and FBI. Missing persons may be declared dead after an unsuccessful search and rescue attempt or after a certain number of years have passed.
Personal injury law allows surviving family members to pursue lawsuits on the basis of wrongful death. This may happen when courts find the cruise ship operator negligent. Cruise ship deaths may be a result of suicide, accidental drowning, or foul play by another passenger. There may also be operator negligence. Any wrongful death case will rest heavily on the evidence.
Sexual Assault and Rape
Maritime law holds cruise ship operators liable for intentional criminal acts of employees against passengers or other employees. However, sexual assault and other crimes were difficult to investigate prior to the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. Victims of rape or other forms of sexual assault should immediately notify ship authorities, who are required to report all such incidents.
Damages You Can Pursue
Your recovery might depend on the policies and procedures of the cruise line company. It might also depend on the location of the accident. Waivers contained in your ticket contract might reduce or eliminate the amount you can sue for, depending on local laws and the facts of your case.
In general, personal injury case damages may include:
- Compensatory damages - To make the injured passengers whole for their injuries. This includes costs for their medical care, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
- Punitive damages - To punish a cruise line company that acted with reckless disregard for the well-being of its passengers.
A cruise ship accident lawyer will be able to provide you with more specific information.
Get an Injury Lawyer's Help With a Cruise Ship Injury Claim
If you or a loved one have suffered a cruise ship injury, be sure to document the incident. Injured passengers should report accidents to ship authorities as soon as possible. You'll also want to learn more about your rights from a cruise ship lawyer when you get back to port. Contact a personal injury attorney for a case review and to learn more about your legal rights. A maritime lawyer who practices passenger injury law can represent your interests in state and federal courts.
Keep in mind that personal injury cases are subject to statutes of limitation. That means that even personal injury claims for serious injuries can be barred if they are not timely filed. Ship owners and their insurance companies are always looking for excuses to escape liability in personal injury lawsuits. A cruise ship injury lawyer may be able to provide a free case evaluation to avoid these challenges. Contact a personal injury lawyer or accident attorney today using toll-free phone numbers.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.