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Hitting the high seas this summer? A cruise can be a wonderful way to relax, see some gorgeous sunsets, and visit new places around the world, all with free food and an open bar. Sounds perfect, right?
But be careful. Between slip-and-fall injuries, food poisoning, measles outbreaks, and, sadly, the occasional overboard death, cruise ships aren't perfectly safe. So here are some legal considerations to keep in mind when taking a summer cruise.
Cruise ships, legally speaking, are what's known as "common carriers": businesses open to the public for transporting people or property. As such, they are often subject to state or federal regulations, and are required to exercise the highest degree of care and diligence in the safety of their passengers.
Beyond general common carrier liability, cruise ships specifically are governed by a Supreme Court Kermarec rule, which requires cruise lines to provide reasonable care to anyone on board. This can make negligence lawsuits easier to bring.
Even with that heightened duty to keep passengers safe, cruise lines may impose requirements for those seeking to file injury lawsuits. This can include like providing the company notice of the injuries within six months, and limiting lawsuits to certain jurisdictions.
The biggest issue when filing a negligence lawsuit against a cruise line is demonstrating that the company or its staff breached their duty of care to you. For instance, did you slip and fall because the deck was left wet or lacked dry mats? Or, did you tumble over because you had a few too many Mai Tais?
Cruise ships are confined environments with hundreds, perhaps thousands of passengers and staff living in close quarters. So, whether it's food poisoning or a virus, sickness can spread quickly on a cruise. But can the company be liable?
Thankfully they are rare, but every now and then someone dies on a cruise. Congress has been trying to require cruise lines to self-report deaths on their ships, along with missing persons, thefts, and other serious crimes.
If you've been injured or sickened on a cruise ship this summer, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.