5 Common Questions About Cruise Ship Accidents

Written by: Luis Gracia, Esquire

Cruise injury law is different from other types of personal injury law. For example, there are strict provisions regarding where a person can file a cruise ship claim that are drafted in very detailed contracts agreed to by every passenger. Trying to understand cruising contracts and who exactly to sue can be confusing for anyone, let alone those who do not hire a cruise ship accident attorney.

At Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell, our attorneys understand that when individuals are injured in a cruise ship accident, they are often faced with many uncertainties in regards to their rights. In an effort to provide assurance through some basic knowledge, below we answer some common questions regarding cruise ship injury claims.

1. Can I sue a cruise line?
Yes. You can file a claim against a cruise line as long as you have a legitimate reason for suing. This means that you must have been injured as a result of the cruise line’s own negligence. Negligence can be found either where the cruise line was supposed to do something and failed to do it, or was supposed to refrain from doing something that occurred.

2. What types of accidents can I file under a cruise accident claim?
There are various types of injuries an individual can sustain while onboard a cruise ship. As such, the individual has many avenues for legal relief. Some common cruise ship claims include:

  • Trips and slips due to slippery substances and dangerous surfaces.
  • Falls in cabins and on decks, stairways, ladders and ramps.
  • Injuries while on shore excursions.
  • Fires and collisions at sea.
  • Illnesses caused by contaminated food and beverages.
  • Failure to provide appropriate medical treatment.
  • Failure to accommodate passengers with disabilities.

It is important to remember that even if you are involved in an accident while aboard the cruise ship you still maintain the burden of proving that the cruise line was negligent and that this negligence was a direct cause of your injuries. Such things as warning signs around a slippery area may alleviate some of the cruise line’s liability, but it may not exonerate them completely from providing you with compensation.

3. How long do I have to file a claim against a cruise line?
Just as jurisdiction is important when filing a cruise ship accident claim, there are strict guidelines regarding when an injured passenger can seek legal remedy. These guidelines are dictated by the individual cruise lines, and outlined on your ticket as legally binding contract terms.

One provision that you need to understand regarding your claim deals with how long you can wait to sue a cruise line for its negligence. In the legal field, this time period is called a “statute of limitations” and dictates when the cut off point to bringing a claim occurs. If you try to bring a claim after the time period has passed, you are barred from recovering.

Most cruise lines require that:
(1) a passenger provide written notice of a cruise-ship injury within six months of sustaining the injury, and that
(2) a passenger bring a lawsuit within one year of the cruise-ship accident.

Remember, each cruise line maintains different requirements outlined on your ticket. If you have been injured and are unsure of your responsibilities, it may be important to contact a cruise ship accident attorney.

4. What court system can I use to sue a cruise line?
Cruise ship accidents and injuries are governed under the area of maritime law. This is an area that falls within Federal jurisdiction, so federal regulations and statutes of limitations will often govern injuries that occur on a cruise ship.

However, cruise lines are free to create their own contracts that are agreed to and signed by every passenger when a ticket is purchased. These contracts can set certain limitations on any potential lawsuits that may arise, aside from what is stipulated in federal regulation. For example, maritime law cases can be litigated in State court as long as the contract between the cruise ship and the passenger allows it.

As such, the best place to look to find out what court system you can use to bring a claim against a cruise line is your actual ticket. Generally, many contracts stipulate that a passenger must sue the cruise company in the court closest to where the cruise company is headquartered.

5. How do I know if the cruise line is responsible?
Courts generally determine whether a cruise line is legally responsible to a passenger by closely reviewing the terms of the passenger ticket and/or contract. Some of the types of incidents that the cruise line is not responsible for include a change in itinerary, acts of nature, theft from rooms, and loss or damage to baggage.

At Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell, we know that Cruise ship litigation is often difficult and time consuming.  If you want full and fair compensation for the injury you sustained on your cruise voyage, we strongly urge you to retain experienced counsel. We proudly serve areas throughout and around Volusia County and Flagler County, Florida, including, Port Orange, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, DeLand, Deltona, Bunnell, Orange City, Sanford, Orlando, and Leesburg.

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