Cruise Ship Accidents
Between the Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), and the Port of Miami, more than 8 million people enter and leave South Florida’s Ports on cruise ships annually. With such a large number of people cruising in and out of South Florida Ports, accidents and injuries occur frequently.
Cruise ship accidents can include:
- Accidents on Excursions into Foreign Ports
- Slip/Trip and Falls
- Accidents on Ships or Docks
- Diving Accidents
- On Board Incidents such as Sexual Assaults
- Health Issues and Seaborne Sicknesses
Is the Cruise Ship Responsible For My Fall Simply Because I Was Injured While Travelling On The Ship?
The short answer is no. A cruise ship owes its passengers a duty to maintain the ship in a reasonably dangerous condition, and to warn its passengers of dangerous conditions that the cruise ship knew about, or should have known about. What are dangerous conditions? Just about anything that puts you at a greater risk of being injured than what you would normally expect to encounter. It could be water or another liquid on the floor, it could be excessive cleaning liquid buildup left over from numerous cleanings, or a carpet that is bunched up causing someone to trip over it. We even handled a claim against one of the major cruise ship companies where the cruise ship captain and staff failed to keep a proper lookout for a floating buoy in the ocean, requiring the ship to take emergency evasive action to miss the buoy, and causing passengers and furniture to slide across the decks of the ship, resulting in numerous injuries. The ship’s staff is trained to look for dangerous conditions, and if you are injured because the staff has failed to eliminate or warn of the condition, you have a claim.
How Do I Prove My Claim?
Another short answer – GATHER EVIDENCE! What we have learned from most serious cruise ship accidents is the dangerous condition that caused our clients to get injured gets cleaned up or fixed immediately after the accident occurs. Most passengers that get injured on cruise ships are taken to the ship’s infirmary – an onboard medical clinic. By the time you have been released from the infirmary, sometimes hours later, the area where you were injured has most likely been “accident proofed” – cleaned up with no evidence that an accident happened in the area.
When you suffer a serious injury onboard a cruise ship, one of the last things you think about is how you are going to prove your claim in court. However, there are some simple steps to take to make sure your claim is documented, and you can prove that the cruise ship is responsible for your injury:
- Report Your Accident To Ship Personnel –
as with most companies that are responsible for an accident, the first defense is Deny, Deny, Deny. Cruise ship companies are no different. Report your accident as soon as it happens, and seek medical attention in the Infirmary.
- Request An Incident Report Be Filled Out By The Ship Personnel –
to record the time, date, location, and facts surrounding your fall. If possible, request a copy of the Report before you leave the ship.
- Take Pictures of the area immediately after are injured –
today’s phones all contain a camera, and everybody carries a phone with them. It is very simple to take photos of the area to show your attorney, and the cruise ship when necessary. The old saying that “ a picture is worth a thousand words” definitely holds true for making an accident claim.
- Get Witness Names and Contact Info –
Once you leave the ship, you’ll probably never see your cruise-mates again. If another passenger is nearby when your accident occurred, and saw what happened, take down their name and phone number.
Which Laws Apply?
Cruise ship accidents can happen at any time—as a passenger is boarding or unboarding the ship, walking up or down stairs on the ship, or down a hallway, getting on and off a launch which takes you into some exotic port, or during your ship sponsored trip into a foreign city. You can still do something about an injury that takes place while on dry land!
Depending on when and where your accident occurs, your claim may be controlled by Florida law, Federal Maritime law, or a law from a foreign port. An experienced cruise ship accident lawyer from our office can sort through the complex maze of laws which may apply and recover the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.