What Are Your Legal Rights After A Cruise Ship Accident?

docked cruise shipFor some, cruises are the ultimate vacation. All a passenger needs to do is pack their clothes and get on board the ship, everything else is taken care of for them. Meals, shows, casinos, games, gyms, and pools are all available at almost any time. When the ship makes stops, on shore excursions can be arranged for passengers who are looking for a thrill.

The problem is that accidents happen every day involving passengers who should be enjoying their vacation instead of wondering how they will put the pieces of their life back together once they get home.

Cruise Accident Lawsuits Can Provide Compensation

Anyone who has sustained an injury on a cruise ship due to negligence may be able to obtain compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma. These lawsuits are a form of civil lawsuit and are designed to protect victims from financial devastation after someone else’s negligence caused them harm.

What Is Negligence?

Anyone that owns property, including a cruise ship, or who is providing an experience, owes a duty to those who set foot on the ship. That means it is their responsibility to do everything within their power to make sure that the ship and the experiences available are free from hazards so that no harm comes to passengers. But the owners, managers, and staff members on cruise ships frequently fail to do their duty and it is their negligence that results in an accident.

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Does It Matter What Kind Of Accident Injured Me?

No, as long as another party’s negligence resulted in the accident, it doesn’t matter what type of accident occurred. However, some of the most common cruise ship accidents are:

Slip & Fall Accidents

Spilled food and drink in the cafeterias, loose carpeting or floorboards, objects left in a walkway, or poorly restrained electrical cords are all hazards that could cause a slip and fall accident. Not everyone is able to get up after they fall and serious injuries may occur depending on where and how the victim lands.

Pool & Waterslide Accidents

All pools and waterslides need to meet certain regulations and the company that owns the cruise ship is responsible for maintaining both the pool and the area around it. They also need to place specific safety signs around the area, warning passengers of any potential hazards.

Overboard Accidents

Falling overboard isn’t as uncommon as many people believe. Loose handrails or a gap in handrails mean that a 

Costa Concordia cruise ship that sunk

passenger can be sent hundreds of feet over the side of the ship into the deep water. Even if they are lucky enough to have been spotted, it can take a long time for a rescue to get underway, not to mention that water isn’t always the “soft” landing that many believe it to be.

In other cases, they may have fallen over or through a handrail only to land on the hard surface of a deck below, which can result in life-threatening injuries.

Navigation Errors

Even though technology has helped captains navigate the water better than ever before, human error still exists and navigation errors occur. Whether the error causes a ship to run aground or sink in deep water, the victims on board don’t often escape unharmed.

Medical Malpractice Is Also An Issue

Although all cruise ships have a medical bay, the nurses and doctors have a reputation for not always providing the best care and as a result, a condition that could have been immediately treated frequently goes untreated, causing additional harm to the patient.  Mistakes include:

  • misdiagnosis
  • prescription errors
  • failing to follow the accepted standard of care

These mistakes don’t just cause additional pain and suffering, they can be life-threatening.

Can I Sue If I Was Sexually Assaulted On A Cruise Ship?

Although this technically isn’t an “accident”, the victims of sexual assault can absolutely pursue legal action after their attack. In many instances, it’s not only possible to hold their attacker responsible, but also the cruise line if the company failed to take the necessary steps to provide reasonable safety measure for clients. Broken locks on doors and windows, poor lighting, and a failure to install security cameras can all give an attacker opportunity to assault their next victim.

How Much Is A Cruise Ship Lawsuit Worth?

This is a question our attorneys are always asked and it is impossible to answer until the facts of the case have been reviewed. Each case is different and the losses sustained by every victim are different.

What Can I Do To Strengthen My Case?

There are always steps that a victim can take to collect evidence that may support their case. If possible, a victim should:

  • Take photographs of the hazard which caused their accident and their injuries.
  • File a written report with the cruise company.
  • Collect copies of medical records from all doctors they see for their injuries.
  • Obtain the contact information of any witnesses to the accident.

Additional information, such as the video from a surveillance camera, can be obtained by an attorney, however, it’s important to remember that this evidence frequently ends up “missing”, which is just one of the reasons it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Time To File A Complaint Is Running Out

Many passengers don’t know it, but the ticket that is purchased outlines how long a person has to file a lawsuit against the cruise line in the event that an accident does occur. Unlike a normal statute of limitations for personal injury cases which usually gives the plaintiff years to file, cruise ship cases have much shorter timelines. Once this time has passed, the opportunity to file a lawsuit and get the needed compensation may disappear forever.

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