Every year, thousands of people looking to inject more action into their cruise vacation choose to go on shore excursions. The shore excursions offered by major cruise lines range from relatively sedate activities like touring a seaside village to higher adrenaline events like ziplining or rock climbing.
Whatever the specific event, shore excursions can present unanticipated risks for participants. Cruise lines will often try to relieve themselves of responsibility when accidents occur by saying that passengers knew there was a risk to the shore excursion, but the fact remains that cruise lines have a reasonable duty of care to passengers. If an accident occurs due to a cruise line’s recklessness or negligence, they need to be held responsible.
Proving the liability of a cruise line can be especially difficult when an accident occurred on a shore excursion, which is why you need to work will a skilled maritime lawyer who has handled this kind of case before. With over 70 years of experience between them, cruise ship accident attorneys Lawlor, Winston, White & Murphey can help you navigate the complexities of your shore excursion injury case and get your life back on track.
Although fast-paced activities like ziplining or riding an all-terrain vehicle might look dangerous, cruise lines need to do everything in their power to make sure that their shore excursions are safe for their passengers. This means that they regularly check safety equipment, make sure their staff is highly trained, and comply with all regulations for each activity. If they take the appropriate precautions, they can give passengers a thrilling and unforgettable experience while also keeping it as safe as possible. However, negligent cruise lines may make their shore excursions unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. Here are a few recent incidents reported in the media:
Bus crash on Royal Caribbean shore excursion. In 2012, some passengers of the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas were in a tour bus accident on the island of St. Martin. The bus’s brakes failed while going down a hill, and the bus hit a speed bump that caused passengers to hit their heads on the ceiling, then hit a taxi and crashed into a ditch. Passengers suffered only minor injuries, but the taxi driver suffered serious injuries including a broken foot.
Parasailing death on island excursion. In 2011, a 60-year-old Celebrity Eclipse passenger died after crashing into the water on a ship-sponsored parasailing excursion. Her 34-year-old daughter, who was riding in tandem, was treated for serious injuries at a hospital in St. Thomas. The cause of the accident is unknown, although authorities suggest that the winds around St. Thomas were too strong for passengers to safely parasail that day.
Ziplining death due to faulty equipment. In 2008, a Norwegian Spirit passenger died on a ziplining excursion in Honduras after a faulty cable snapped and she plummeted 30 feet to the ground. It is unclear what caused the cable to break.
Hearing about the accidents that occur on shore excursions should not necessarily dissuade cruise ship passengers from participating in them. After all, not all shore excursions are dangerous, and thousands of people participate in ship-sponsored shore excursions every year without incident. Still, there are precautionary steps that passengers can take to make sure they stay safe on shore excursions.
Read the fine print. If you’re thinking of going on a certain shore excursion, make sure you carefully read the waiver the cruise line makes you sign. If their wording makes it seem as if there may be a risk for injury and that the individual must assume that risk, you need to decide if you’re still comfortable participating in that activity.
Pay attention to instructions. Before any activity, guides should go over the safety precautions that passengers need to keep in mind. If the activity leaders fail to provide important safety information and a passenger is injured as a result, the cruise line may be liable.
Be aware of weather conditions. Cruise lines should carefully monitor weather and sea conditions and account for those factors when planning excursions, but passengers should also pay attention to inclement weather that may increase the risk of a certain activity.
Know your limits. If a cruise line says that a shore excursion requires a certain level of physical fitness or experience, be honest with yourself about what you’re capable of. Never participate in any activity that makes you uncomfortable.
Speak up if something seems amiss. If you’re participating in a shore excursion and something doesn’t seem right—for example, a safety harness seems loose or a member of the group is lagging far behind—let the activity leader know immediately.
Unfortunately, even passengers that take these safety precautions may still be in an accident caused by the cruise line’s negligence. Injuries from shore excursions can be devastating, and accident victims should not hesitate to hold the cruise line legally responsible.
Cruise lines never want it to seem like an accident on a shore excursion was their fault, which is why they often include exculpatory clauses that act as a “safety cushion” if an injured passenger does try to take legal action against them. The cruise line will point to these clauses and claim that the passenger knew the risk they were taking or caused the accident by behaving in a reckless way. Understandably, this can be incredibly upsetting for someone who is attempting to recover from and pay for a shore excursion injury.
Only a seasoned maritime attorney can look closely at the details of your case and help you pick apart any exculpatory clauses to show that the cruise line should be held responsible. The attorneys at the Law Office of Andrew Winston have the legal knowledge and experience to do just that. They have handled hundreds of cruise accident cases, including those involving shore excursions, and won’t hesitate to fight for accident victims. They also work on a contingency basis, meaning they don’t expect clients to pay them anything unless they recover the monetary compensation they deserve.
Don’t hesitate to come to Lawlor Winston with your shore excursion injury case. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call 954-606-6606 (South Florida), toll-free at 855-347-5475 or fill out this convenient online case review form.