Cruise ships are seen as glamorous and safe vacations for anyone and it is difficult to think of how an accident may occur aboard cruise ship. Injuries do occur on cruise ships, though, and the cruise line should put forth reasonable safety efforts to minimize the risks or injuries that may occur. If a cruise ship accident leaves you high and dry, it is important to know your rights, as well as how to file a claim after one occurs.
Common Cruise Ship Accidents and Injuries
Cruise ship accidents can occur anytime, anywhere, and to anyone, and there are plenty of different types of cruise ship accidents. Here are some examples of the types of accidents you may be able to sue a cruise line company for:
- Slip & Fall Incidents: Walking through the main deck for some entertainment, you may slip through a wet area and take a rough tumble, leading to a broken wrist of ankle. The wet area was the result of a recently mopped floor without any caution signs near it. This type of accident is the result of clear negligence from the cruise ship workers and has potential to result in a lawsuit for damages.
- Norovirus Illnesses: Cruise ships are known for their extensive buffet lines, and while dining guests on the cruise expect to enjoy food that is properly and thoroughly handled and cooked, this is not always the case. If you find yourself experiencing vomiting and diarrhea while on a cruise ship, it may be more than sea sicknesses. If a cruise line’s improper handling or cooking of food has left you with medical bills and a hospital stay, you should be looking at legal options for financial recovery.
- Room Hazard Injuries: Imagine a faulty outlet causing a hair dryer to start a room fire or a damaged rug turning in to a tripping hazard. These cases can be complicated at times, as the cruise line or the product manufacturer may both be partially at fault here. Either way, pursuing legal remedies for the damages you experienced should be a priority option for you.
- Negligence of the Ship: Poorly designed staircases can lead to injuries, particularly if there are damaged handrails, or lack of handrails, shallow steps, water or other substances on the stairs which can all create a dangerous slip and fall accident.
- Assault from Crew: Whether physical violence, rape or sexual assault, those you have trusted aboard a cruise line may take advantage of this. Cruise lines are generally liable for their crew members actions and conduct, so you may be able to recover damages in this case.
Furthermore, there are a variety of other accidents that can occur and it is important to know your rights as a passenger:
- Sickness/Illness Outbreaks
There are exceptions to these situations. One of the more prominent things to remember is that, at points, cruise lines are not always legally responsible for the negligence of independent contractors connected for the cruise. For instance, some tours or excursions while on shore are considered to be done by independent contractors. So, any problems or issues that come from those are sometimes not covered by the cruise line, as they are not actual employees of the cruise line. This can also be said if negligence is found by medical doctors on the cruise line, as they are also seen as independent contractors, not employees. This does not mean that you are not able to sue, but you would need to sue the staff member directly, instead of the cruise line.
Understand your Rights and Limitations
As we have talked about common accidents and issues that arise with cruise ships, it is important to understand your rights and limitations when it comes to the actual cruise. Many cruise ships and charters tend to have a large document for you to fill out and complete with signing, and many passengers tend to gloss over it, without ever reading it. Instead, it is best to read the entire contract, as there are plenty of points that may be missed when dealing with an injury that they use as a means to protect themselves.
Many different cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Lines, and Carnival Cruise Lines tend to have limitations on when injuries can be claimed. These are known as the statute of limitations. The period that you need to file the claim is usually within 6 months of the injury. Furthermore, many of these cruise lines tend to place a one year limitation on a passenger’s right to sue. They may also tend to force you to sue only in a certain geographical area, and in a certain type of court.
How to Get Started
To get started on your injury claim against the cruise company, it is important to start at the time of the injury.
As the injury occurs on the ship, it is best to first gather information. Gathering information about everything related to the injury is the most crucial step. For instance, if you fell, slipped, or were assaulted, try to get a picture or video evidence. Taking a picture of the spot that you fell, at the time of injury or directly after, can mean that the evidence cannot be taken away from you. If you were unfortunately assaulted by a staff member, gather evidence of the staff member, or take pictures of the physical bruises, with the date and time on all of the information.
Second, you need to report the incident. Reporting the incident is just as important, and the sooner you can do it, the better. Reporting the incident puts a hard time stamp on the problem and issue at hand, which then makes it much tougher for the cruise line to try to tamper with the dates and times and pushing their statute of limitation on your attempt to sue them.
Lastly, and this has to top everything in terms of what to do next, it is important for you to hire an experienced lawyer. As soon as the incident occurs, the cruise line will attempt everything in their power to get you to suppress your case. They may try to settle out of court for much less, and push negotiations specifically to extend the time period, hoping that you pass the date when the statute of limitation comes in to play. Hiring an experienced lawyer will help ensure that you do not fall into their traps, and that you have all your information necessary and in order to go to court against them. An experienced lawyer is your greatest weapon, so don’t go into battle without one.
Florida Attorney Brandon Stein provides personalized and aggressive representation to injured cruise ship passengers. Each client is treated with great respect and compassion. Attorney Stein is known as a plaintiff’s rights attorney because he fights for the client’s personal rights and especially for their rights to compensation. To schedule your free cruise injury case review with SteinLaw, contact Attorney Brandon Stein’s office at 877.STEINLAW.