When people get hurt or sick while taking a cruise, they often chalk it up to bad luck or their own ineptitude. They wouldn’t have fallen if they’d been paying more attention. There was just a virus going around. And so on and so forth.
However, many times what seems unavoidable – or even your fault – was actually caused by the actions of another. If you suffered an injury or illness during a cruise, ask yourself how the incident occurred. Who is responsible usually depends on several factors, including what type of injury you suffered and where it occurred.
Below, we’re going to look at several different types of injuries that can potentially occur while on a cruise and who might be held liable depending on the specific facts of the situation.
How the Nature of the Injury Informs Liability
Some of the most common cruise ship injuries and accidents include:
- Slip and Falls
- Assault by crew members
- Medical Malpractice
- Injuries during onshore excursions
All of these injuries require different evidence, and can lead to a case against different parties, so let’s look more in-depth into them and divide them up by the likely negligent entities.
Cruise line. Generally speaking, the buck stops with the cruise line, so this is a tough one because arguments can pretty much always be made that they are ultimately responsible if negligence was involved in your injury or illness.
That being said, it is easier to hold the cruise line accountable if specific policies or practices they follow led to you suffering. For example, if their guidelines regarding food or cleanliness lead to a norovirus outbreak because they are not stringent enough, the line itself is pretty clearly at fault. Likewise, if they systematically engage in poor maintenance practices and ship equipment fails, resulting in harm, they should be given the blame.
Crew members. This is where some of the “buck stops here” argument comes into play. Who should be held accountable if specific crew members neglect their duties? Is it the crew members themselves or the company that employs them? This is something that will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis with your attorney, and it should be considered carefully.
Parts manufacturers. Let’s say that a defective part explodes on the ship, causing a large fire and injuring many people, including you. It may be possible to file a claim against the cruise line, but you also may want to consider focusing on the company that manufactured the defective part.
Doctors. If you receive improper medical care while onboard a cruise that results in damages, you can sue the doctor responsible. However, recent cases have opened the door to hold the cruise line accountable as well, which may be preferable in these types of situations.
Off-shore excursion operators. This one depends largely on how you book your excursions. Did you find them on your own? Or did you go through the cruise line’s list of available options?
If you booked via the cruise line and something happens, they can be held accountable because they are promoting and essentially vouching for the companies handling those excursions. If, however, you decided to try to save a bit of money and do things on your own, your only recourse may be to attempt to bring a suit against the individual company that operated the excursion.
Could Your Injuries Have Been Prevented?
Some accidents are just that, accidents. The passenger was clumsy, another passenger didn’t know that they were going to catch the flu, and so on. However, many other incidents could have been prevented. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Was there staff present at the time of my injury?
- Was my slip and fall caused by a “foreign substance” (liquids, food, or other objects on the ground that did not belong)?
- Was the ship kept in good condition?
- Were there safety hazards present when I was injured (or anywhere throughout the cruise)?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you may be able to sue for negligence. Just because you can file a lawsuit doesn’t mean that you’re going to win that lawsuit, though.
You still have to prove negligence.
What You Need to Prove to Win a Cruise Negligence Suit
Once you have determined the liable party, you will need to build your case. If the cruise ship or a staff member’s negligence caused your injuries, you will need to prove the following:
- The cruise ship and staff owed a duty to you, the passenger
- The liable party neglected to fulfill that duty
- The party’s negligence directed caused your accident or injury
- Your accident or injury directly caused financial losses or damages
If you are ready to take legal action against a cruise ship for your illness or injuries, don’t wait – get in touch with a Florida cruise ship injury lawyer now.
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 cruise victims who have suffered all kinds of injuries and illnesses due to negligence. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, 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 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.