Cruise Ships Can Now Be Responsible for Cruise Ship Doctor Malpractice.
Count medical malpractice as one of the many restrictions contained in your cruise ship ticket. This used to mean that the cruise ship companies, and the doctors they employ in the ship infirmary, owed you no responsibility if they committed medical malpractice on a cruise ship. But that may all change based upon a recent court decision out of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a decision provided on November 10, 2014, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether a passenger can sue a cruise ship for medical negligence, or medical malpractice as it is commonly known. Prior to the decision, maritime law stated that a cruise ship owed no duty to carry a doctor on board, and as such, it was only required to exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances. But in this new case, the Court of Appeals held the cruise ship doctor is the ship’s agent, and a passenger can make a claim for cruise ship medical malpractice against the ship owner and doctor.
The case is Pasquale Vaglio versus Royal Caribbean Cruises. The Court noted that Mr. Vaglio fell onboard the Explorer of the Seas while it was docked in Bermuda. Mr. Vaglio was taken to the ship’s infirmary but Royal Caribbean’s ship doctor did not even meet with Mr. Vaglio for close to four hours after the accident. The infirmary staff also failed to diagnose his injury properly or give Mr. Vaglio any diagnostic testing to determine the injury. Tragically, Mr. Vaglio died.
Royal Caribbean attempted to argue to the Court that its ship doctors and nurses were only independent contractors, and as such, the cruise ship could not be responsible for the infirmary medical malpractice. However, the Court considered Mr. Vaglio’s allegations that the Royal Caribbean employed these cruise ship doctors and nurses, considered them members of the crew, and supplied the infirmary with all the medical supplies the ship doctor and nurses needed. The Court also held that the Royal Caribbean’s ticket terms and conditions did not prevent a cruise ship medical malpractice claim.
This is a very significant decision as the cruise ship companies have been able to limit the types of cruise ship accident claims that can be brought against them. Many cruise ship tickets contain limitations that specify where, when and how a cruise accident claim, or a cruise ship medical malpractice claim, may be brought. Because a cruise ship embarking Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale will carry passengers that live all over the world, and travel to ports all over the world, it is often difficult for a person injured on a cruise ship to figure out how and where to bring an accident claim.
If you have been injured from a cruise ship accident, or believe that you have been injured from cruise ship malpractice, you should contact an experience cruise ship accident lawyer as soon as possible. If you wait too long, evidence and witnesses disappear, and more importantly, you may lose your right to bring your accident or malpractice claim against a cruise ship.