Can you imagine getting on a cruise ship but never leaving it? Or being notified a loved one has gone missing from a cruise? These scenarios may seem unfathomable, but they do occur – people go missing on cruises for many reasons.
The cruise line is responsible for keeping passengers safe while on board. When a person goes missing on a ship, they must take steps to find them. Failure to do so can result in negligence claims against the cruise line – particularly for those never heard from again.
Here’s what you need to know about when people go missing on a cruise ship and what legal rights you have in the wake of a loved one who’s gone missing.
Gone Missing: How Does It Happen?
A cruise ship is a closed environment. That makes it hard to understand how anyone could simply disappear on one. However, the reality is that there are many ways and reasons that people go missing on board a cruise ship. This includes but is not limited to:
A person could have an accident and fall overboard. Unfortunately, once a person falls overboard, the chances of finding them are limited.
However, negligence can still be the culprit. Sometimes, a classic slip and fall accident is at the heart of a disappearance mystery. Intoxication can also sometimes be to blame for someone falling over the railing. Or rough waters that throw the ship back and forth, causing someone to fall overboard. The possibilities are endless.
A cruise ship may seem like a relaxing nirvana to many people since it’s a vehicle for a vacation, but the truth is that crimes occur on cruise ships just as they do anywhere else. If a person is a victim of a crime, they may get thrown overboard.
While vacations conjure thoughts of happiness, sometimes people want to end their lives aboard a cruise because no one will find them.
It’s unknown how many people go missing each year on cruise ships because it isn’t always reported. However, from the available information, about 200 people vanish from cruise ships annually, making it more frequent than many realize.
How Is the Cruise Company Liable?
Just as with any other incident on a cruise ship, you have to show negligence for the accident that befell your loved one – if you can even prove an accident occurred.
Thankfully, cruise ships have security footage, and there are often many witnesses to crimes or other incidents. Having an attorney investigate the events is a crucial step in holding the cruise ship company liable in your case.
Another way cruise companies are found liable, even if it’s unknown what really transpired, is how they investigate after the person goes missing.
They have a duty to try to find the person and rescue them if they can. Also, regulations require cruise ships to report the disappearances of passengers to the authorities. If they fail to do so, then that can put them in legal trouble.
Remember, the cruise ship is ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone on board. If they fail to do that, why they failed must be explored.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all personal injury cases, focusing on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in representing 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, and has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2022– 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 2015-2022, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2022.