Most cruise ship passengers will embark on and return from a cruise without incident. Some, however, will suffer serious injuries from preventable incidents during their time on board or while taking part in excursions.
Understanding your rights as a cruise ship passenger can help you secure fair compensation from a cruise line. If you have suffered an injury as a passenger of a cruise ship, speak with a cruise ship injury lawyer to discuss your options.
Common Passenger Injuries
Few studies and statistics show the true range and impact of injuries aboard cruise ships every year. In 2010, a Norwegian medical institute published a study of passenger accidents and injuries in the medical journal – International Maritime Health. Over the three year period reviewed, researchers discovered reports of 663 injuries.
Most incidents occurred on the vessel, and cabins and bathrooms accounted for the majority of onboard injuries, while traffic incidents contributed to excursion-related injuries. Slips, trips, and falls represent the most common causes of injuries. While the exact numbers may not reflect today’s cruise environment, the assessment does capture a reasonable outline of common injuries, places, and causes.
Slip, trip, and fall injuries can occur when someone improperly positions equipment or when an organization fails to maintain an area. These kinds of incidents can result in fractures, head injuries, and spinal injuries. After a serious accident, passengers may need to disembark and receive medical treatment at a land-based hospital rather than on the ship.
In addition to the most common injuries, wrongful deaths from passengers falling overboard, assault, and illness all represent possible incidents for passengers on cruise ships.
Legal Considerations in US Cruise Ship Injury Claims
In the United States, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) oversees passenger injury compensation. The federal agency requires all passenger vessels that embark from U.S. ports and carry at least 50 passengers to prove their ability to pay all operator liability claims from injuries or deaths. To pursue compensation, however, each passenger bears responsibility for initiating the claims process.
The claim process begins with a plaintiff or his or her representative deliver a notice of demand to the appropriate cruise line representative. A notice should include a description of the incident, evidence of negligence, medical records, and costs from the incident and injury.
If a personal injury claim goes to court, the case may involve elements of maritime law and federal jurisdiction. A seasoned maritime/admiralty lawyer who understands the nuances of the laws that govern injury claims will provide better support for these claims than a general personal injury practitioner. Typical claims may also include evaluations of passenger contracts, liability waivers, and jurisdictional demands. Depending on the fine print, you may need to file your claim in the jurisdiction a cruise line chooses.
What to Do After a Cruise Ship Injury
Immediately after a cruise ship injury, take steps to protect your right to compensation. If you carry a smartphone or camera around the ship with you, the recording capabilities can help you preserve evidence. Take pictures or record video of the accident scene, every possible hazard, and your injuries. Note any weather conditions and if the ship took adequate steps to warn passengers of the hazards. If a code violation may have contributed to your injury, consider finding a tape measure to show the length, width, or size of a stair, railing, or other ship structure.
Always report the incident to the cruise line and file a formal accident report. Seek medical treatment, and keep copies of all correspondence, records, contracts, and statements from the cruise line. When you reach shore, contact an injury attorney to discuss your case and the cruise line’s liability.
The statute of limitations in cruise ship claims often differs from land-based claims. Initiate the claims process as soon as possible to hold the cruise line liable. A Houston personal injury lawyer at the law offices of Brian White in Houston can help you begin the claims process and protect your right to compensation. Call (713) 224-4878 Today!