Millions of Americans go on cruises each year. Reasonably, accidents can happen on cruise ships just like anywhere else. However, not many people realize that the cruise line can be liable for injuries sustained while onboard.
If you’re injured at sea, you have the right to sue. But you also have to meet a fairly high bar in order to show that the cruise line should, in fact, be liable and made to pay. In fact, it can be quite complicated to pursue lawsuits against cruise lines for a variety of reasons.
Whether you’re a regular on the cruise ship scene or dreaming of your first, it’s important to understand what to do if you’re injured on a cruise, including all your options in the wake of an injury.
The Types of Injuries to Sue Over
You would go on a cruise likely because it has so much to offer. From casinos to entertainment, pools to buffets, there’s a lot to see, do, and eat on a cruise… Which creates a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.
Some of the most common reasons why people sue for injuries on cruises include:
Slip and Fall Accidents
This accident commonly occurs in many places, not just on a cruise ship. So, of course, it can happen when you’re onboard.
By their very nature, cruise ships can present an unstable surface for walking. They’re quite large, so, for the most part, they remain stable enough for passengers to cruise comfortably.
However, when bad weather strikes, smooth sailing goes out the window. Ships become very unstable, leading to falls and trips.
In addition, trips, falls, and slips can happen as a result of negligence on the part of the cruise line. A wet floor may not be properly marked, or a loose floor covering may not be properly maintained.
While most cruise lines take abundant precautions to keep passengers safe in their pools, that doesn’t make them immune from accidents. Drownings and near-drownings do occur aboard cruise ships. That’s why it’s important to ensure your cruise takes all the precautions they can. At minimum, they should employ enough lifeguards and offer life vests.
Deaths on a cruise ship may result from illness, homicide, falling overboard, or suicide. When this happens to a family member onboard, the cruise ship may be liable.
While rare, disasters do occur. Ship collisions, pirate attacks, and capsizing are not unheard of. Also, harsh weather while at sea can cause accidents on the ship that incur injuries.
These are just some of many ways to be injured aboard a cruise ship. If you’re injured during a cruise, consult with an attorney to see if you have a case.
What You Should Do If You’re Injured
The following actions will help cover you in the event of an injury:
Report the Incident
Any incident that results in injury should be reported to the crew.
Normally, the crew performs an investigation. The law requires certain paperwork be filled out if an injury requires medical treatment. Get the proper forms and make sure to fill them out, then submit them to the ship’s security.
Get Copies of All Reports
Make sure to get a copy of any report generated as a result of your injury, including any forms you submit. For example, you may need medical records down the line to bring a lawsuit and prove negligence.
Record the Scene
Use your phone or another device to record video or take pictures of the place where the accident occurred.
You should also:
- Seek immediate medical help
- Get contact information from witnesses
- Find the proper attorney to represent you
What About Your Ticket?
Another important aspect to consider in the event of injury is your ticket. Normally, you agree to a number of provisions in your ticket when purchasing it. They may directly impact your personal injury claim.
Know Where to File
The term “forum selection clause” may come into play in personal injury lawsuits against cruise lines. To explain, many cruise lines are based out of South Florida. The clause requires that any lawsuit be filed in a specific jurisdiction that must be tried in federal rather than state court.
It’s this sole clause that largely makes lawsuit filing for personal injuries against a cruise ship so complicated.
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.