People love cruising. What many forget, though, are the natural dangers present on the open seas, dangers that when they make themselves apparent can be quite frightening.
That’s exactly what happened aboard a cruise ship when it was struck by lightning in Indonesian waters during a thunderstorm. As a result, some of the ships monitoring equipment, such as radars, had stopped working but were eventually restored.
Dangerous weather conditions exist all over the world, but what happens when you experience them on a cruise ship? Furthermore, what if you are injured as a result – does the cruise ship bear any responsibility in your injuries? Read on to find out.
Weather on the High Seas
Weather presents some serious potential hazards for cruise ships. Some of the most common things encountered by cruise ships include storms, lightning, and ice.
High winds and rough seas can present some serious problems on board, tossing people around and leading to injuries. Other things that can happen on choppy seas include things falling on passengers, passengers getting seasick, and passengers falling down.
While storms cannot be avoided totally, there are precautions cruise ships can take to ensure everyone on board is safe and secure to help avoid serious injury.
Storms can also produce lightning which can, if it connects with a ship, create problems for navigation and power. It can even start fires. People on board can get electrocuted as well, putting them at risk of injury or even death. If there is a storm with lightning, then you’ll be directed below the deck where you are safer.
If you like to take winter cruises, then ice is something that can have an impact on the safety of your cruise as well. Icebergs pose a threat to ships as they sail through the water and winter storms can occur. You have to be careful about ice on the decks of the ship too since they pose hazards to your safety.
What If You’re Injured at Sea?
If inclement weather occurs and you’re injured on a cruise ship, what can you do? It is possible in some circumstances to sue a cruise line for injuries you sustain.
That said, you must be able to prove that the cruise line, its staff, or a third part aboard the boat acted in a negligent way. This negligence must directly contribute to your injury and make it possible for you to seek damages.
It’s important to note that cruise lines make it very difficult to file claims against them. Still, if you’ve been injured, this shouldn’t stop you from trying to pursue a claim. Just be aware of what the contract you’re signing says.
Read the Fine Print Before You Set Sail
It’s common for passengers to sign a contract with the cruise line when they purchase a ticket that includes a liability waiver. These waivers usually include liability for accidents that may occur. Here are a few other common obstacles often outlined in your paperwork:
- These ticket contracts often include statutes of limitations as well, reducing the amount of time you have after an accident occurs to file a lawsuit.
- Another fine-print byline, passengers that want to sue may have to provide the cruise line with a notice you intend to take legal action within six months of the occurrence of the injury.
- Yet another complexity involved with pursuing legal action against a cruise line is what flag the cruise ships sails under. International laws, as well as United States Maritime Law, can apply to the case.
If you anticipate foul weather during your cruise dates and have questions about whether you should sign your sailing papers or how to adequately protect yourself when you do, an experienced cruise attorney can be a great source of information and advice.
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 and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston 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 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.