Injury claims arising after injuries aboard a cruise ship are subject to specific procedures and short deadlines. For example, if you’re hurt on board the ship, you must report the incident and be examined by on-board medical personnel. If you plan to file a lawsuit, you have to notify the cruise line within six months of the injury.
The terms and conditions you’re subject to are printed on your boarding pass, and while it isn’t easy reading, it is worth your while to attempt to read them. Before you go on your cruise, it’s a good idea to know what to do should you be injured. Here are 5 frequently asked questions about cruise injuries and liability.
1. I Wrote to My Cruise Line About My Injury. Is This the Same as Filing a Claim?
No. You must notify the cruise company that you plan to file suit, and you must file that suit within one year of your injury. If you’re hurt on a cruise ship, you should contact a cruise ship accident law firm as soon as possible.
2. What Happens After I Hire a Cruise Accident Attorney?
When you hire a cruise injury attorney, he or she will gather information from you about the situation and tell you what specific information and documents you need to provide. Your cruise injury attorney will investigate and speak with witnesses and cruise staff members and obtain the cruise line’s accident report.
Discovery requests will be sent to the cruise line for them to answer. These answers must be given under oath. You will participate in discovery too, and your attorney will guide you through this process. You may have to be examined by a doctor hired by the cruise line’s insurance company.
3. Why Do I Have to File Suit in Florida When I Live in New York?
Due to a 1991 Supreme Court ruling, cruise companies can mandate that you file suit in a specific jurisdiction no matter where you actually live. Usually you must file in Federal District Court in Miami. Fortunately, much of the preparation, investigation, and discovery can be done long distance.
4. There Was a Video Camera Near Where I Was Injured. Won’t This Prove My Claim?
Cruise lines almost always prepare accident reports after passenger injuries, and often these incidents are captured on surveillance cameras. However, cruise lines often claim that accident reports are privileged, or that video cameras somehow did not pick up the actual incident. If you’re injured on a cruise and believe another passenger may have captured the incident in a photo or video, be sure to get that person’s contact information and pass it along to your lawyer.
5. I Was Assaulted by a Crew Member. Why Wasn’t He Arrested?
Jurisdiction is complicated with cruise lines. A June incident in Alaska involving a man allegedly assaulting a 12-year-old child unfortunately resulted in different jurisdictional authorities passing around responsibility for detaining the man. Vancouver police turned the matter over to the FBI, which turned it over to Alaskan state police, who handed the case to the DA in Ketchican. Sadly, in situations like this, the cruise line simply waits and hopes the situation goes away, and in fact, it often does. Do not let this discourage you from documenting and reporting any such incident, however.
A respected cruise ship accident law firm knows all the tricks in the cruise line’s bag and knows how to counter them. Prevailing against a cruise line after an injury or assault is challenging, but not impossible. In fact, press coverage of cruise problems in 2013 may help shed valuable light on how cruise lines dodge responsibility and ultimately force them to behave more responsibly (Contact us for more information here).