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Suing a Cruise Line? Here Is What You Need To Know

Suing a Cruise Line? Here Is What You Need To Know

Suing a Cruise Line? Here Is What You Need To Know 1080 1080 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

Laura Rucker, the wife of the late Edmund Rucker, is taking legal action against Royal Caribbean following the tragic death of her husband during a cruise stop in Roatan, Honduras. Edmund Rucker, 52, passed away on March 15, 2023, after diving off a pier while the Allure of the Seas was docked at the island. 

Witnesses reported that it took nearly an hour for medical personnel to arrive at the scene after fellow passengers pulled him ashore. Laura Rucker’s lawsuit alleges that Royal Caribbean acted recklessly by promoting excursions in Roatan despite ongoing work stoppages and strikes in Honduras, which could have contributed to the delayed medical response that ultimately cost her husband his life.

The Rucker family had researched and planned to participate in a zip line excursion in Roatan, but it was sold out. They instead purchased tickets for a similar excursion offered through ShoreExcursioneer, which was operated by South Shore Adventures and Foster’s West Bay Resort, both based in Mexico and Roatan, respectively. After the zip line activity, participants were given the option to use an elevated platform for recreational purposes, such as diving into deeper waters. 

Edmund Rucker, described as an experienced diver, chose to dive headfirst into the water but tragically struck his head, rendering him unconscious. Despite efforts to revive him, the delayed medical response led to his untimely death. Laura Rucker’s lawsuit seeks damages for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and misrepresentations related to the excursion’s operation, highlighting the lasting emotional trauma suffered by the family. The case highlights the risks associated with cruise ship attractions and the potential for serious injury when safety measures fail.

Cruise Ship Accidents and Tragedies

Tragedies on cruise ships are not uncommon. A study by the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health stated, “There were 623 reported deaths. Out of all deaths, 89% were passenger deaths and 11% were crew deaths. United States residents accounted for 61% of passenger deaths” between 2019 and 2020. In 2019 alone, incidents included the tragic death of a toddler who fell from a cruise ship window, an alcohol-fueled brawl causing multiple injuries, and allegations of sexual assault. 

Maritime law that governs such cases requires proof of negligence, proximate cause, and actual harm. However, the law also presents unique challenges, including shorter statutes of limitations and forum selection clauses that limit where cases can be filed.

Admiralty and Maritime Jurisdiction

Admiralty and maritime jurisdiction encompasses two main categories of cases. The first category involves acts committed on the high seas or other navigable waters, including prize cases, torts, injuries, and crimes. Jurisdiction in these cases is determined by the location of the act. The second category involves contracts and transactions related to shipping on the seas or navigable waters. In these cases, the subject matter of the contract is the primary factor in determining jurisdiction. This category includes a wide range of cases, such as suits by seamen for wages, actions arising from marine insurance policies, disputes over towage or pilotage charges, actions on bonds related to maritime financing, claims for vessel repairs, contracts of affreightment, compensation for temporary wharfage, agreements between vessels’ masters engaged in wrecking, and surveys of damaged vessels. 

Admiralty jurisdiction extends to all contracts, claims, and services that are essentially maritime in nature. However, determining whether a specific case falls under admiralty jurisdiction can be challenging, as there is no clear test to distinguish maritime contracts from other types of contracts. Courts rely on precedent and usage to determine the boundaries of admiralty jurisdiction over contracts, which can vary depending on the circumstances of each case.

Passengers Suing Cruise Lines

For cruise passengers, ticket contracts often require lawsuits to be filed in specific courts, typically in Florida, where major cruise line executives are headquartered. This can present logistical challenges for plaintiffs and their legal teams, especially when it comes to investigating incidents that occur at sea or in foreign ports.

Despite these challenges, plaintiffs’ lawyers remain committed to advocating for their clients. With the help of surveillance footage, digital data, and witness testimony, they strive to build strong cases against cruise lines. However, restrictions such as the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) limit the types of damages that can be recovered, making it difficult to achieve full compensation for families of deceased passengers.

Efforts to reform DOHSA and improve passenger protections have faced obstacles, with industry lobbying often stalling legislative changes. Nonetheless, plaintiffs’ lawyers continue to fight for justice, ready to take cases to trial if necessary.

The legal landscape surrounding cruise ship injuries is complex and challenging, requiring experienced legal representation to navigate effectively. For those who have been harmed on a cruise, seeking legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney is crucial to understanding their rights and options for seeking compensation.

Speak To An Experienced Boat Accident Attorney

Navigating Florida’s coastline and inland waters can be as challenging as its congested roads, especially with the added risks of drunk boating and disorderly conduct by boat operators. Boating accidents and negligence cases, whether on the ocean, river, lake, or marina, fall under maritime law. With years of experience in Florida, our Miami boat accident attorneys are well-versed in this area of law. We work with a wide range of experts for investigation, accident reconstruction, and witness testimony to vigorously pursue all liable parties and maximize compensation for you and your family.

Panter, Panter & Sampedro is dedicated to handling watercraft injury and boating accident cases in Miami and throughout South Florida. For over 30 years, our team has protected the rights of those injured due to others’ negligence, securing numerous verdicts and settlements exceeding $100 million. If you’ve suffered serious injuries on a cruise ship or personal watercraft, contact us at 305-662-6178 for a free consultation with one of our experienced South Florida boat accident lawyers.

 

 

 

Sources: 

https://www.newsweek.com/royal-caribbean-sued-passenger-died-cruise-ship-1875545

https://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/plaintiffs-attorneys-suing-cruise-lines-must-navigate-a-boatload-of-challenges-unique-to-the-industry

https://www.ijtmgh.com/article_119591.html

https://www.floridabar.org/practice-areas/admiralty-and-maritime-law/

https://constitution.findlaw.com/article3/annotation15.html

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title46/subtitle3/chapter303&edition=prelim

https://panterlaw.com/transportation-traffic-accidents/boat-accident/

 

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