How Do I File a Claim Against a Cruise Line Company?
Everything You Need to Know About Cruise Ship Accident Lawsuits Against Carnival Cruise, Royal Caribbean Cruise, Celebrity Cruises, and more.
Jump to What’s Most Important to You With the “Quick Links” Below
- If I’m Injured in a Cruise Accident, Who Is Responsible?
- What are the Cruise Ship Maritime Laws and Filing Restrictions for Filing a Law Suit Against a Cruise Company?
- How does Maritime Law Affect Cruise Ship Injuries?
- What Safety Measures is a Cruise Ship Common Carrier Responsible For Providing Me?
- What Information Do I Need to File a Cruise Ship Accident Lawsuit?
- Where Do I File a Personal Injury Claim Against A Cruise Line?
- Determining Negligence in a Cruise Ship Accident Lawsuit
- How Long Do I Have to File a Cruise Ship Accident Lawsuit?
Personal injury accidents can occur anytime, anywhere – including while on vacation. A serious injury might be the last thing you expect to happen during a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Celebrity cruise; but it is an unfortunate reality for many people every year. From disembark to final port, each and every cruise line has an obligation to help its passengers avoid serious injury or harm.
Bloomberg Legal reports personal injury cases against cruise lines continued in an upward trend since 2016 and that, “personal injury cases against the three biggest cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings – accounted for 78 to 87 percent of all federal litigation they faced over the last five years, according to the data which it collected.”
Common Causes of Cruise Ship Injuries
- Ship collisions
- Technical problems
- Passengers falling overboard
- Assaults by crew members
- Food poisoning
- Wet deck slip and fall incidents
These acts of negligence can lead to serious injuries such as broken bones, concussions, and internal organ damage. In the event of injury or wrongful death, here’s how to bring a claim against Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, or Celebrity Cruise Lines. For more information about hiring a lawyer you can read our Miami cruise ship accident lawyer page.
First, it is important to clarify that when you purchase a ticket and board a cruise ship, you automatically accept the cruise line’s contract. You can typically find this contract in the fine print on the bottom of your ticket. By making your purchase and boarding the ship, you legally consent to the terms of the cruise line. This liability waiver can bar injured parties from pursuing certain claims against Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Celebrity Cruise Lines. It can also list important claim information, such as your deadlines for filing.
The contract will state something along the lines of,
“Celebrity Cruise Lines is not liable for any personal injury, illness, or death unless negligent.”
It’s important to know that the contract does not protect the cruise line from every personal injury claim – only those the carrier or cruise line employees hadn’t caused or contributed to. If you believe the cruise line or one of its employees is guilty of negligence or intent to harm, your case will circumvent the stipulations of the ticket purchase. Otherwise, Carnival, or whichever cruise line you traveled with, would be free to cause harm or conduct business negligently without fear of legal repercussions.
For example, if the injury was entirely your fault or due to your own carelessness, you will not have a case. Injuries you cannot sue for:
- If you drank too much alcohol and tripped down the stairs or into a pole
- If you were fooling around in an area blocked off to guests with proper signage
- Did not follow proper instructions and fell
What type of cruise injury can you sue for?
- Torn carpeting caused a fall
- Loose handrail caused a tumble down the stairs
- Malfunctioning elevators that lead to suffering
- Proper signage was not used to alert guests to avoid an area or use caution
In this case, you might have a premises liability lawsuit against the carrier for failing to properly maintain the cruise ship.
A cruise line lawsuit may also have a foundation in the legal theory of negligence. For instance, this might be the case if the ship’s cook failed to properly refrigerate fish, leading to an outbreak of food poisoning. When in doubt about whether you have grounds to file a claim, speak to an experienced cruise ship accident attorney.
A cruise ship owes its passengers a duty of safe transportation and protection from harm during all cruise-related activities and excursions. Passengers who are injured aboard ship may file suit against:
- The owner of the cruise ship
- The company that chartered the cruise ship
- The company that operated the cruise ship
- Or, the Company that sold the ticket as an agent of the cruise ship owner, charterer, or operator.
Although, each of these claims may be subject to cruise ship laws that affect where and when the passenger may file suit. A cruise ship attorney with maritime law experience can assist you in determining this.
What are the Cruise Ship Maritime Laws and Filing Restrictions for Filing a Law Suit Against a Cruise Company?
Bringing a lawsuit against a cruise line for onboard injuries requires a different process than different from personal injury claims on land. Cruise ship injuries involve elements of maritime law, a distinct body of law that governs offenses and activities on water vessels. There are also different filing deadlines and liability concerns you must take into account.
Maritime laws require plaintiffs to prove fault. A common carrier owes the highest degree of care to its passengers. However, unlike typical strict liability cases, passengers must prove negligence or intent to harm in order to bring a claim against a carrier. This involves having evidence of the cruise line’s failure to exercise due care, resulting in injury.
As a common carrier, or a vessel that carries passengers for money, cruise ships must obey certain common carrier laws. These laws and rules include providing:
- Adequate fire protection
- Competent crewmembers
- Safe and sanitary food services
- Firefighting and lifesaving equipment
- Stable watercraft
- Safe navigation, including turbulence protocol
- Vessel control
- Environmental protection
- Protection from physical harm
- Safe arrival at the destination
- Protection from crewmember assaults
- Reasonable search and rescue for missing passengers
Passengers who sustain injuries due to negligence or intent to harm may be able to recover compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost time at work, and other damages. However, claims against Celebrity Cruise Lines follow different rules than typical claims.
At the time of your accident and shortly after, gather as much information as you can about what happened, such as:
- Statements from people who witnessed your incident
- Names of cruise ship staff members on the scene
- Photographs of anything relevant to your claim.
- Any other relevant details that may be helpful in your case
If you must go to the onboard hospital for immediate treatment for your injuries, have a friend or family member gather information for you. It’s important to record details of your incident while they are still fresh in your mind.
You must file your lawsuit at the cruise line’s headquarters. Despite being highly inconvenient for passengers who live out of state or even in a different country, cruise ship liability waivers state that injured passengers must file claims in the state of the company’s headquarters.
Filing a claim against a large cruise ship company like Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Line, or Carnival Cruise Line requires a firm understanding of these rules and many others. It is often in an injured passenger’s best interest to work with an attorney for these personal injury cases. A Cruise ship accident attorney can investigate your accident, help you determine the defendant(s), and gather any evidence relevant to your case.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, and Norwegian Cruise Line its headquarters and legal team in the Port of Miami – just a few blocks away from the United States District Courthouse where injured parties must file all claims [if headquarters are in Miami]. If you are not from Miami, this can create traveling issues for you during litigation. Entrusting your case to Miami personal injury attorneys can give you an in-state advocate, and a connection to your case from far away. The team at SteinLaw can file a passenger or employee injury claim on your behalf, and keep you updated about your case when you are in your home state.
The most important factor in your case against a cruise line is your ability to prove negligence. This hinges on the court ruling that a “reasonably careful ship operator” would have done something different in the same situation – such as knowing about a faulty staircase railing and taking steps to repair the issue. Although it’s impossible for a cruise line company to foresee all dangerous conditions, RCCL has a duty to reasonably prevent harm to passengers.
If you experienced an injury on a cruise ship, or while under their care or supervision, it is advisable to contact your lawyer well before this statute expires.
Although the one-year statute of limitations requires action within 365 days for compensation, it’s recommended to report what happened as soon as possible. For example, with Carnival Cruise Lines, cruisers can receive a full refund (in some instances) within 24 hours of departure.
In the infamous Carnival Triumph disaster of 2013, a Carnival cruise ship caught fire, leading to a power outage that left passengers stranded in the Gulf of Mexico with no electricity or working toilets for days. Injuries were mostly emotional and mental on this occasion. Carnival changed its policies thereafter in an attempt to appease future passengers. Today, cruisers can receive a full refund if they are dissatisfied with their experience – but only if they register their complaints within 24 hours of departure.
Report your accident and injuries to the cruise line as soon as possible, not only to receive a refund but also to have documented proof that the incident happened and that you reported it to authorities in a timely manner. Keep a record of whom you speak to, what he/she said to you, and how the cruise line responded to your incident and injuries.
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 at 877-783-4652.