A Washington man on a Royal Caribbean cruise recently suffered a fractured pelvis after the bungee cord on the Sky Pad trampoline bungee ride broke 20 feet above deck, causing him to plummet to the floor next to it.
Since then, he’s been living in Sarasota for several months while he slowly rehabilitates. As of this writing, he still has another three months before he can bear any weight, and he’s getting therapy for depression. As a result of all of this, the young man has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Royal Caribbean.
Do these kinds of personal injury claims work? It already has – at least in part: in response to the lawsuit, Royal Caribbean closed the ride on two of their ships. For the time being, no one else will be at risk of falling like the plaintiff did.
Of course, that’s just the beginning. What must be proven for him to win his claim? Will the victim see damages paid? If so, how much is possible?
Any seasoned Florida cruise ship accident attorney can review the details of this type of personal injury claim and tell you up front whether you will be likely to recover damages. In the meantime, these are the questions we’ll take a closer look at in today’s post.
How Cruise Ship Liability Works
Personal injury claims on cruise ships are based on negligence and premises liability laws nearly one hundred percent of the time.
Sometimes, filing a cruise ship claim takes the form of a product liability suit. In the Sky Pad case, the plaintiff is going after the cruise line itself at this time, and likely presenting the case as one of premises liability.
Premises liability laws help determine whether or not the owner of a piece of property is liable when a particular condition on that property causes an injury.
What Must Be Proven in the Sky Pad Case
In order to successfully recover damages in a cruise ship injury suit, the victim must show that the cruise line and/or its employees were careless or negligent, and that their carelessness directly caused injury to the victim.
Negligence, under maritime law, primarily hinges on whether a “reasonably careful” operator could’ve recognized the hazard causing the injury. Often this requires witnesses, expert witness testimony, and/or evidence of operator negligence.
When cases like these do prevail, there are three primary types of damages usually recovered.
Types of Damages the Victim May Be Able to Recover from His Sky Pad Injury
Economic or Special Damages include actual and future estimated costs of medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, property damage, or other out-of-pocket expenses.
Lost wages calculations will usually factor in both work the plaintiff missed due to treatment and work that will likely be missed in the future in the event of permanent disability.
Non-economic or General Damages are awarded upon the evaluation of elements like pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
During the settlement process, insurance companies typically employ a “pain multiplier” strategy to arrive at a fair and reasonable number, including the total of actual financial losses multiplied by a number the insurer deems appropriate, usually between 1.5 and 5.
Punitive Damages are awarded at the discretion of the court, often when a judge wishes to make an example of the defendant, and feels compensatory damages aren’t enough to deter the offender or others from the same actions in the future.
Another situation in which punitive damages are awarded is when the judge simple doesn’t believe other damages amount to a reasonable punishment.
If you or someone you love suffers an injury like this, is it worth the fight? That’s up to you.
Talk to legal counsel. Listen to their assessment. Think about the cost of what you’re going through and what your road to recovery will be like. Consider how important it is to you that those responsible are held accountable.
One thing already made crystal clear by this case is that when a victim files a claim, cruise lines pay attention and take action. You can make a difference.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.