If you’re injured on a cruise, it may seem pretty obvious to you that the cruise line should be held responsible. Maybe you fell from a balcony because of a loose railing, slipped because of a wet floor on a main walkway, or broke your arm on a shore excursion that was supposed to be “perfectly safe.” In fact, you might think that the connection is so obvious, that you won’t need legal assistance and can just represent yourself in court.
You might save some money by opting for self-representation, but you’re essentially sabotaging yourself as far as winning your case goes. Here’s why you need to work with an experienced maritime lawyer.
5 Reasons to Retain a Maritime Attorney
Maritime law is complex. Unless you yourself are licensed to practice maritime law in Florida, you are not qualified to represent yourself in a cruise ship accident case. Maritime law is a complex branch that falls outside of U.S. law, and it’s unlikely that reading a few books will be enough to prepare you for what lies ahead. In fact, it can be so complicated that attorneys have to pass a special test in order to become certified to practice maritime law. Ultimately, only a licensed maritime lawyer can help you win your case.
A maritime attorney can help you gather evidence. In a cruise ship accident case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, meaning you have to be able to show that not only were you injured on the cruise, but that it was due to the cruise line’s negligence that the unfortunate accident happened. A skilled maritime attorney can help you gather the evidence you need by reconstructing the scene, talking to witnesses, and bringing in experts when necessary.
A maritime lawyer can help you submit all necessary documents on time. All maritime accident cases have a statute of limitations of three years. That means if you don’t file a lawsuit within three years of your accident, there’s little you can do to hold the cruise line legally responsible. A maritime lawyer can help you gather your medical information, accident reports, and other important documents so you can get your case off the ground sooner rather than later.
The cruise line will have a well-qualified attorney on their side. Cruise lines obviously don’t want to be sued, because if they lose, they may end up paying a lot of money out-of-pocket and fighting the damage to their reputation. Because of the enormous risks they face, you can bet cruise lines will retain top attorneys who have handled this type of case before. Therefore, you need someone who has just as much experience protecting the rights of victims of cruise ship accidents.
Injured crew members can only recover damages under the Jones Act. If you were a crew member working on a cruise ship when you were injured, the only way you can recover lost wages and other damages is by filing a suit under the Jones Act, the part of maritime law that addresses workplace injuries. When your medical costs and lost wages are on the line, you can’t risk losing your case.
Whether you’re a passenger or a staff member on a cruise ship, you shouldn’t take chances when your health and finances are on the line. Contact a cruise ship accident lawyer as soon as possible in order to start building a strong case.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.” His experience in successfully handling numerous cruise ship accident cases recommends him as one of the most competent and skilled lawyer in the area of maritime personal injury law and wrongful death.