A significant decision favors injured cruise ship passengers
In what can be considered a ‘major victory’ for cruise ship passengers, a new ruling now allows those passengers, who were victims of medical malpractice by the doctors and medical staff of the cruise line, to sue the cruise lines and its owners.
Why is this significant?
Before this ruling, cruise lines were essentially immune to medical malpractice lawsuits.
That immunity stems from a 1988 ruling called the ‘Barbetta Rule that held that shipowners had no liability, “no matter how clear the shipowner’s control over its medical staff or how egregious the claimed acts of negligence.”
Now injured passengers have more legal options available to them when seeking damages for medical malpractice and negligence by the vessel’s doctors, nurses and medical staff.
For more than 25 years, there have been many examples of passengers who were sick or injured and went to see the ship’s doctor only to have their conditions worsen, go untreated or be mistreated. Now, the cruise lines must take responsibility for the actions or inactions of their medical staff.
In addition, cruise lines will now need to better manage and control the medical offerings provided to passengers. Hopefully this will lead to better overall care for passengers.
Wait – passengers could not sue the cruise line previously?
Many people have asked, “weren’t passengers allowed to sue the cruise lines for medical malpractice before this week’s ruling?”
Essentially, no! For over 25 years, dozens upon dozens of malpractice claims filed by seriously injured cruise ship victims and their lawyers were pushed aside. Victims had little recourse in gaining compensation.
Over these 25+ years, many law firms have worked to have this ‘Barbetta Rule’ reversed. Finally, through the efforts of the cruise injury lawyers at Waks and Barnett, P.A. and an assisting appellate specialist attorney, Philip Parrish, the outdated ‘Barbetta Rule’ has been struck down.
More information about cruise ship medical malpractice
The circumstances that led to the ‘Barbetta Rule’ reversal are complex. The above information gives a brief overview for people trying to gain a better understanding of their legal rights if considering a medical malpractice lawsuit against a cruise line.
For more information about the case that led to this new ruling, Franza v. Royal Caribbean, or to ask more detailed questions from the lawyers who handled this case, please contact Andrew Waks or Joel Barnett at Waks and Barnett, P.A.