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How Common are Accidents on Cruise Ships?

It’s important to remember that there are plenty of dangerous, extreme activities available on cruise ships and on the coastal tourist spots along the way. Between 2005 and 2018,  there were 448 major cruise ship accidents reported. 16 people died in cruise ship accidents between 2005 and 2011.

Recreational equipment failure may be to blame for a large number of cruise ship accidents, but there are plenty of on-board safety concerns, including but not limited to:

  • Loss of power resulting in being adrift at sea
  • Fire (101 incidents since 2005)
  • Plumbing issues (bursting pipes, overflowing toilets, etc.)
  • Spread of viruses
  • Improper sanitation
  • Running aground
  • Sinking
  • Crime

Can I Sue the Cruise Line If I Am Injured on their Ship?

Once a cruise ship departs from the U.S. coast, federal maritime laws take over, but basic principles of negligence law still apply. Generally, passengers are considered to be in the care of the cruise line personnel, so the company has a duty to protect the safety of its passengers. If a passenger suffers injury, sickness, or death while on the ship, the company could be at fault — it all depends on if the court finds proof of negligence.

It’s important to be aware of the statute of limitations associated with negligence laws on cruise ships. Usually, the statute of limitations does not exceed one year. Another complication that may arise for plaintiffs lawyers: getting on the cruise ship to obtain evidence may be more complicated than if the scene of the incident was immobile on land. It’s a literal moving target.

In many cases, holding these big cruise lines responsible may prove to be difficult, especially if the incident was out of their control. For example, if a robbery occurs, it is often difficult to hold the company liable due to limited recoverable compensation to passengers in accordance with their tickets.

Where Should I  File a Lawsuit involving a Cruise Ship departing from an American Port?

All ocean cruise passenger tickets contain a contract limiting the cruise line’s liability for anything you can imagine, including class action lawsuits. Included in this list of restrictions is a forum selection clause requiring all civil suits against the cruise line to be brought in a particular court. When passengers purchase a ticket, they are subsequently agreeing to the terms of the contract.

Tickets issued by Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian require passengers to file civil cases in the Southern District of Florida. Why? Well, it’s simple — every executive of those cruise lines is headquartered in Miami, and handling cases in their hometown gives them a significant advantage.

How Do I Get Started Filing Legal Action Against A Cruise Line?

How Do I Get Started Filing Legal Action Against A Cruise Line?

Navigating the complicated laws associated with cruise ships usually requires the experience of a trained lawyer. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you or someone in your family has been injured on a cruise ship.

The first step will be to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once you are well enough, you should  file a claim, and don’t hesitate to seek the help of a legal professional while filing.

Don’t be embarrassed if you aren’t sure what to do. These laws are complicated, but we’re here for you!


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.