Most cruise ship passengers enjoy their excursion without incident, other than perhaps a touch of sea sickness or a hangover. But accidents do occur, sometimes as a result of the cruise ship operator’s negligence. The process of filing a lawsuit for a cruise ship injury is dictated by a combination of maritime law, federal regulations, and contractual agreements printed on the back of each ticket (see Cruise Ship Accidents and Liability and What is a Common Carrier? for more details).
If you are injured at sea or a port of call, you should report the incident immediately; get names and contact information of any passengers or crew who can back your claim; obtain written eyewitness statements; take photos where appropriate; and file your claim within the time limits indicated on the back of your ticket.
A cruise ship injury may involve (but is not limited to) the following:
There are plenty of opportunities for passengers to suffer slip and fall injuries-- most cruise ships have pools, restaurants, venues for dancing, and sometimes slippery decks. Taking pictures of the conditions that led to the injury, as well as photographs of the injury itself (if applicable) can go a long way. Additionally, document whether or not there was adequate warning of the slippery condition.
A single batch of tainted food can spread quickly on a cruise ship, including norovirus (commonly called “stomach flu”), due to the close proximity of passengers. The terms and limitations printed on the ticket sometimes allow for refunds in the case of food poisoning, but an attorney will be able to review your case for a potential negligence lawsuit.
At least 41 cruise ship passengers were reported missing in 2011 and 2012 (combined), according to the Cruise Victims Association, a watchdog group. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was signed into law in 2011, requiring ships to report all disappearances and crimes involving U.S. citizens to the Coast Guard and FBI. Missing persons may be declared dead after an unsuccessful search and rescue attempt or after a certain number of years has passed.
Personal injury law allows surviving family members to pursue lawsuits on the basis of wrongful death when courts find the cruise ship operator negligent. Cruise ship deaths may be a result of suicide, accidental drowning, or foul play by another passenger, in addition to operator negligence. Any wrongful death case will rest heavily on the evidence.
Although maritime law holds cruise ship operators liable for intentional criminal acts of employees against passengers or other employees, sexual assault and other crimes were difficult to investigate prior to the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. Victims of rape or other forms of sexual assault should immediately notify ship authorities, who are required to report all such incidents.
Get a Free Initial Claim Assessment
If you have suffered a cruise ship injury, be sure to document the incident and report it to ship authorities as soon as possible. You'll also want to learn more about your rights when you get back to port. Contact a local attorney for a free initial claim review to discuss what happened and learn more about your legal rights.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.