Injuries on any vacation can be a bummer, but cruise ship injuries can be especially dangerous. You’re stuck on a ship, and often cruise ship doctors are able to do little more than give you pain medication and other general treatment.
The only silver lining? Cruise companies have a duty to keep their passengers safe. If you are injured by a negligent or abusive crew member, consider filing a claim and asking for compensation.
When Can I File a Cruise Claim?
If you have been recently injured by a cruise line, you may be able to file a claim. Not all injuries qualify, however. There must be some form of negligence directly related to your injury and financial damages.
What does that mean?
Maybe the chef onboard didn’t cook your meal at the right temperature, and you ended up with norovirus. Or a staff member didn’t act after they saw food and drinks spilled on the floor, causing you to slip and fall. Intentional injury, like sexual abuse, also qualifies.
States put limits on how long victims have to file a claim after their injury. In Florida, most victims have four years after the date of their injury to file a claim. (This matters, because most cruise ship injury cases will take place within Florida courts.)
Preparing to File a Cruise Injury Claim
Before you file a claim, take the following action:
Seek medical treatment.
If you do not treat an injury immediately after it happens, you could face further damage and higher costs. Failing to go to a doctor or take action may be considered negligence on your part.
Collect documentation and witnesses.
It may be hard to find witnesses when everyone hops off the ship and goes home. Start to gather names and contact information while you are still on the cruise. They may be useful resources once you get to court.
“Documentation” also includes a list of your expenses after your injury. Keep medical bills handy. You will eventually need to file a demand letter and show the defendant why you are asking for money, so keep your bills and receipts close.
Report the injury to the cruise ship.
Again, failing to take this type of action after your injury may result in negligence on your part. If you fail to point out a lousy chef or a violent crew member, you put more passengers at risk of injury. Be careful what you say when you report the injury, as it may come back to hurt your case.
Reach out to a Florida personal injury lawyer.
Since most cruise ship cases take place in Florida, you will have to find a personal injury lawyer that practices in Florida and specializes in cruise ship injuries. Most lawyers offer a free consultation – use this opportunity to “shop around,” find the best lawyer for your case, and see if you have a case in the first place.
Once you have signed on with a lawyer, they can help you file the right documents and put together a strong case that will get you the compensation you need.
Writing a Demand Letter
Your preparation will pay off as soon as you start to file the claim. One of the first steps in this process is to write a demand letter. This letter will detail your injury, connect your injury to the negligence on the cruise ship, and ask for compensation. Your personal injury lawyer can help you write this demand letter and send it to the proper place.
A good demand letter will clearly state why you are filing a claim and what the cruise ship’s next steps should be. If you have properly sought out treatment for your injuries and collected the proper documentation, this should be an easy letter to write.
Include documentation within your letter and write the types of documents that you are including in the letter. This way, the defendants in your case cannot claim that they didn’t receive proper documentation or were kept out of the loop.
Your demand letter will also include how much money you want from the cruise ship or the defendant. Be careful to include where your calculations come from and all of the expenses that have accrued as the result of your injury.
If your insurance did not cover certain costs, include these details in your demand letter. If you suffered from emotional distress after your injury, include these details as well.
Again, your personal injury lawyer can help you through each step of the claims process. Cruise ship injuries are serious, and it’s important to start preparing to file a claim as soon as you experience an injury. You deserve compensation after your injury – don’t let filing dates or minor details get in your way.
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.