When it comes to cruise ship liability, many circumstances are riddled with complexity. Sometimes there are clauses located within a passenger ticket that seek to disclaim the cruise ship company’s liability. However, occurrences of gross negligence and deliberate misconduct might not be disclaimed by common carriers. Unfortunately, some courts have been willing to implement disclaimers of liability concerning accidents occurring during shore excursions.
However, the repudiation of liability for negligence states that it is illegal for the owner of any vessel that transports passengers between ports of the United States to insert in any rule, regulation, contract or agreement that in the event of loss of life or bodily injury transpiring from the negligence or indiscretion of such owner that relieves them from liability. Your best chance for recovering damages is by hiring an experienced maritime lawyer.
Cruise Ship Accidents
It is estimated that over nine million passengers travel on cruise ships that depart from North American ports each year. This number has significantly increased in the last five years although safety procedures have not correspondingly expanded.
Claims of injuries, assaults by crew members and violent illnesses are becoming more and more common. This has caused the cruise line industry to come under heightened scrutiny along with recent publicity surrounding a string of disappearances aboard cruise ships.
Common Types of Cruise Ship Injury Lawsuits
Common cruise ship passenger accident claims arise from:
- Slip, trip and fall accidents in common areas
- Ship mechanical malfunctions
- Rape and sexual assault
- Negligent security measures or maintenance
- Assault and battery
- Gangway accidents
- Water slide or ride injuries
- Unsafe ship endorsed activities
- Tender or boat transfer accidents
- Alcohol related accidents
- Missing persons
- Excursion accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
Cruise Ship Sexual Assault
Rape, sexual assault and other sex crimes occur on cruise ships all too often. Unfortunately, many passengers do not realize they give up some basic legal protections provided under state law once they cross the gangway and board a vessel. However, under general maritime law, cruise ship companies can be held legally responsible if they fail to provide reasonable safety and security measures that caused or contributed to a sexual assault.
Cruise lines are strictly liable for intentional, wrongful and criminal acts of their employees, including sexual assault. But Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruises, Disney Cruises and many other cruise line companies manage their vessel operations in a way that can make it difficult to obtain and gather important evidence and witness information.
Suing Cruise Lines for Injuries
For us, who litigate cruise line cases, these shocking stories and tragic results unfortunately come as no surprise. Cruise ships are virtually floating cities that lack fundamental safety policies, protocols and procedures in order to protect passengers from harm. In addition, antiquated legal principles tend to favor cruise lines and contractual language limiting the rights and remedies of passengers puts travelers in a precarious position.
However, the ability to recover from cruise ship negligence is not impossible. Many American courts have realized the impracticality and injustice with the current state of affairs in the cruise line industry. Several judges have passed down landmark decisions regarding the accountability of cruise ship corporations to their passengers.
Damages for Injuries in a Cruise Ship Accident Case
In general, the statute of limitations provides a reasonable time frame in which a matter should be investigated, and a claim filed. In Florida there is a 4-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases, and a 2-year limitation for medical malpractice and wrongful death suits. One exception to the rule are injuries or deaths that have occurred due to negligence associated with a cruise line.
Contracts that are contained within a cruise ticket package typically provides that a passenger must provide notice of a claim to the cruise line within six months and commence a lawsuit within one year. Occasionally courts will reject such restrictive limitations if they were unreasonable under the circumstances, but they are typically upheld. Cruise lines impose an even shorter limitation for non-physical injury claims. Most cruise lines require written claims to be filed within days of the incident.
Although cruise line companies try to protect themselves from liability by having passengers sign a contract with their ticket purchase, they still have a responsibility to provide reasonable safety and security measures. You may still have a right to sue the cruise line if they have been negligent and potentially recover:
- Present and future medical treatment costs
- Hospitalization costs
- Restoration and transportation costs
- Current and future lost wages
Lost wages can occur from not only an injury, but also a delayed cruise ship. You may be entitled to compensation for missed flights, extra nights in hotels etc.
Pain and Suffering
Cruise ship accidents can occur due to poor maintenance, inadequate safety equipment/emergency precautions, incompetent staff and/or improperly trained employees. Cruise lines can be held legally responsible for negligence or other causes of action. You may have monetary damages for any mental anguish or emotional stress after any incident in the isolating confines of a cruise ship.
How We Can Help
Cruise ship companies and other private vessels will have their own team of attorneys fighting to protect their best interests. Unfortunately, many passengers do not know their rights.
For over 25 years, our cruise ship accident attorney team has been representing individuals and families in recovering fair compensation for their injuries and other losses.
Our Miami cruise lawyers will investigate the various factors that led to the accident as well as negligent parties, which can be discussed with you during a free consultation. If we represent your claim, we’ll explore factors such as:
- Where the accident happened on the ship
- What led to the accident
- Were alcohol or drugs involved
- If the negligent party is an individual such as a doctor and if that doctor is an employee or a contractor
Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A. has represented injured passengers from across the globe including Canada, South America, and Israel. Contact us at 305-709-1763 or by using our contact form to schedule a consultation to discuss the specific details of your accident.