A dream vacation can be wrecked very quickly. One of the common causes of this is an injury, or even a death. Although modern cruise ships are very safe, accidents do happen. For example, both passengers and crew members have been known to disappear, with the most likely cause of such being the person going overboard without witnesses.
Turbulent seas can also cause cruise ship injuries.
And with thousands of passengers on the large ships, incidents of violence do occur. Sometimes, the perpetrator of the violence is a cruise ship employee. Also, some large ships offer physical activities that can, on occasion, result in injury. Finally, cruise ships have been fairly notorious for outbreaks of disease, such as Legionnaires’ Disease and Norovirus.
Cruise ships are legally considered to be common carriers. This means that they have a specific responsibility to ensure safe conveyance of their passengers. In the past, they have been held liable for the actions of violent employees, including security personnel who overstep their bonds. Essentially, however, a cruise ship company should be held responsible for ‘reasonably forseeable’ injuries.
Some significant compensation has been paid by cruise lines in the past for slip and fall injuries or injuries caused by rough seas. However, the international nature of most cruises can be a complication. Many ships fly under flags of convenience designed to reduce employee costs and tax burdens and maritime law can be complicated.
Read Your Passenger Ticket
Cruise ship tickets generally specify that the passenger should file suit in a specific jurisdiction, normally where their headquarters is located. The tickets may also require that a suit be filed within a certain period of time after the cruise, although this has been ruled not to apply in cases of criminal actions by crew members.
In all cases, a cruise line may be liable for compensation, which can run into the millions, depending on the nature of the injury. The determining factor is whether the situation was one which could have been reasonably foreseen, or a freak accident that could not be prevented. Factors such as how predictable weather is, how often fire prevention systems are checked, and overall common sense may come into play.
As an example, in May of 2011, a passenger was awarded almost three million in damages against Carnival cruise lines after a slip and fall accident apparently caused by a poorly designed pool deck.
Cruise passengers should be aware of their rights and also pay attention to their responsibilities to avoid being a victim of an accident at sea, but when they are, they may find the cruise operator owes them compensation.
About Waks & Barnett, P.A.
Based in Miami, Waks & Barnett attorneys work with clients in Florida, throughout the United States and around the world. The firm’s attorneys practice in the areas of personal injury, accidents and wrongful death, with a specialization in admiralty and maritime law.
- Cruise ship passenger personal injuries and accidents
- Cruise ship passenger illness
- Cruise ship medical negligence
- Sexual assault on cruise ships
- Protecting the rights of passengers and crew