Cruise Ship Accident Law

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Have You Been Injured in a Cruise Ship Accident?

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Cruise ships are popular places for people to vacation, allowing them to experience the comforts of a high class hotel while traveling to new and interesting locations across the water. However, with all the fun that cruise ships can provide, there are inherent dangers with any kind of activity taking place on the water. From 2005 to 2018, there were 448 major cruise ship accidents reported according to statistics collected by the Maritime Injury Guide, and these only refer to major accidents, excluding the far more common incidences of personal injury on these vessels. Common causes of injuries aboard cruise ships include falling overboard, slip and fall accidents, burns, spread of viruses, gangway falls, and more.

If you or a loved one were injured in a cruise ship accident, it is important to know what to do as the process can differ slightly from those of injuries that occur on land. First, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately after sustaining an injury aboard a cruise ship; all cruise ships contain infirmaries where you can go to begin seeking treatment.

Additionally, taking pictures of the injury and the location where the injury occurred can serve to ensure that evidence exists regarding how the injury occurred.

Finally, requesting copies of any medical records or incident reports which were filed aboard the cruise ship after the injury occurred and refraining from signing or agreeing to anything can help protect your rights and give an attorney more to work with if you choose to seek legal counsel upon returning home or even while still at sea.

What are the Statistics on Cruise Ship Accidents?

Gathering statistical data on cruise ship accidents can be tricky considering that many cruises outsource a good deal of their process. However, a study published in International Maritime Health evaluated the frequency of passenger accidents and injuries on a cruise ship over a three year period that can offer some valuable insight into the type of injuries that tend to occur on cruise ships, as well as how often.

Let’s go over some important cruise ship accident related statistics:

  • 663 injuries were reported in 3 years aboard the cruise ship.
  • Nearly 13% of the above injuries were classified as serious injuries.
  • Slip and falls made up nearly half of the injuries which occurred on board.
  • Lower body open wounds were the most common type of injury.
  • 2% of the injured parties were hospitalized at port with 5% referred to specialists.
  • Approximately 60% of the injuries occurred aboard the ship with most of the remaining 30% occurring on land.

Who is Responsible for a Cruise Ship Accident?

The litigation process for cruise ship accidents is complex for a variety of reasons. First, injuries which occur while at sea fall under a specific set of laws referred to as maritime laws. These laws may differ slightly from those which apply on land. Additionally, there may be multiple parties and factors involved in any one injury, so it can be tricky to determine who is legally at fault in these circumstances. For that reason it’s important to contact a maritime lawyer as soon as the injury occurs to learn more about potentially liable parties and how to go about seeking compensation for your damages sustained on a cruise ship. Parties that might be involved in your case include:

  • Cruise line. If a ship’s operator should reasonably have been aware of the unsafe conditions which led to a passenger’s accident or were directly responsible for those conditions, the cruise line could be liable for their operator’s negligence, especially if there should have been doubts when hiring the operator.
  • The ship’s healthcare provider. Many ships hire their doctors and/or medical teams as independent contractors. This means if an injury was created or worsened by their efforts, the individual healthcare provider could be held liable.
  • Shore excursion operators. When a passenger is injured during an excursion, it is likely that the excursion operators are independent contractors and can be held liable if the injury occurred due to their negligence. In this situation, the cruise line would not be liable.

Do You Have a Claim for a Cruise Ship Accident?

Depending on the nature of your or your family member’s injuries due to a cruise ship accident, your maritime lawyer may identify possible claims for:

  • Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from a cruise ship accident may include: injuries sustained falling overboard, slip and fall injuries, injuries caused by falling cargo and/or enclosed spaces, chemical burns, electric shocks, gangway falls, and, in the worst case scenario, death.
  • Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of a cruise ship accident victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
  • Life care expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
  • Vocational rehabilitation.
  • Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress.
  • Wrongful death.
  • Funeral expenses.

If you or a loved one were injured on a cruise ship, seek legal counsel to learn more about your options. You do not have to be alone trying to figure out how you will pay for and recover from damages sustained in a cruise ship accident. It should be noted that these claims must be filed in the state where the cruise line is headquartered, most often in Florida. Maritime lawyers specialize in these situations and will be able to help evaluate your case and determine the next steps you should take to protect yourself and your family from further damage.

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