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Cruise ships can be a great way to enjoy a vacation with family or friends and can be safely enjoyed if you go on board aware of the numerous risks involved in suffering an accident or injury, including the risk of being the victim of a sexual assault, rape, or other type of crime. The key of course is prevention of accidents and crimes. However, if an accident or crime does occur, there are several things you should do:1. The Rules of the International Maritime Organization Apply
Cruise ship companies must abide by the rules of the International Maritime Organization, which requires the development of safety management systems by each cruise line company. The safety management system will include an accident investigation and reporting section, dictating what cruise ship employees must do every time an accident is reported.
Therefore, step one is to make sure that your accident is reported and documented.2. Assumption of the Risk Forms
There are numerous activities that cruise ship companies have incorporated on board a ship that have been developed and built to be operated on land, not on a mega cruise ship plying the high seas. Activities such as zip lining, going down a waterslide, rock climbing, and ice skating pose serious safety risks to the passengers. Another popular activity on cruise ships that has generated a number of accident claims is the FlowRider, an activity which simulates surfing. Before participating in any of these activities, passengers are usually required to sign an assumption of risk form.
It is important to know that under the maritime law, the cruise line company cannot contract away their responsibility for any negligence that causes injuries to passengers.3. Be Careful What You say
The investigation of your accident will be conducted by cruise ship employees, normally the staff captain and security officer. The medical staff will also generate a report. What you say to anyone in the medical facility, or to any of the employees on the ship will likely be recorded in forms the cruise line utilize. Often times, the cruise lines take statements when a passenger has just been involved in an accident, and is not a good historian of the facts, or simply not well enough to accurately convey the necessary information. Because the passenger is not feeling well or is simply in too much pain to care about giving a statement, important details may be left out. However, the cruise lines often push to get the statement immediately.
Therefore, you must be careful to accurately state facts and realize that what you say will be recorded in the forms, and may eventually be used against you in any claim you may bring.4. Be Careful What You Write
Most of the time the cruise lines will attempt to get a statement in writing from the passenger in which the passenger writes details in his or her own handwriting, which makes it difficult to dispute what is contained in the statement later if the passenger was in fact inaccurate due to the circumstances under which the statement was taken. Therefore, if you do not feel well enough to provide an accurate written statement, you should not prepare one. Also, be careful not to allow a family member to do the statement on your behalf because often times the statement is not completely accurate, and again the statement can be used against you later in litigation.
If you do end up providing a statement, it is better to be brief. State that you are not feeling well at the present time to provide detail, but that you have been the victim of an accident that you believe is due to the fault of the cruise ship company in some way.