Cruise ship injury claims can differ significantly from general personal injury suits. Our cruise ship accident attorneys are well-versed in the details of these kinds of claims and have handled cases around the country against cruise lines and cruise ships.
A number of factors may cause injuries aboard cruise ships. You can sue the person directly responsible and the cruise ship company. Cruise ships have a special level of liability referred to as common carrier liability. Your ticket is a contract between you and the cruise ship company and should be reviewed with your lawyer. Available damages include medical bills for bodily injuries, lost property, pain and suffering, and more. The evidence you need will depend on how and where your accident happened. Many cruise ship lawsuits fall under maritime law and must be filed in federal court.
Whether your cruise ship injury claim is subject to Florida, federal maritime, or international law, our experienced cruise ship accident attorneys are ready to handle even the most complex cases. Call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind today at (866) 386-1762 to set up a free case review on your case.
Common Types of Cruise Ship Injury Claims
Cruise ships are some of the largest ships in the world aside from naval vessels. These ships are essentially floating cities, with restaurants, entertainment venues, rooms and cabins, social spaces, and more. As such, some of the same risks on land also exist at sea, and there are many potential ways that someone could be injured as a passenger on a cruise ship.
In general, it is up to the cruise line and the staff and crew on the ship to make sure that passengers are safe. If the staff and crew do not uphold this duty, people can be seriously injured. Many of the most common accidents on a cruise ship are the type of accidents that could occur anywhere, such as slip and fall accidents, falls from broken or loose handrails, trip and fall accidents, and other accidents caused by dangerous premises. Other injuries are caused by food poisoning and illness on the ship, which could spread and affect many passengers.
Although many injuries result from accidents and conditions on board the ship, other injuries could be caused directly by other passengers on the ship or crewmembers and staff. Injuries from violence and sexual assault on a cruise ship can hardly be considered “accidents.” As such, the cruise line is often responsible for these claims. Because the cruise ship’s staff is responsible for passenger safety, it is unacceptable for negligent security to result in passenger injuries or for a staff member or crew to directly cause a passenger physical injury.
Injuries Caused by Captain or Crew Error
Crashing into rocks, crashing into another vessel, running aground in the night, coming up against a pier too hard, or navigating into dangerous waters or dangerous weather can cause serious injuries to the crew and passengers on a ship. If this happens because of mistakes in judgment or errors directing or navigating the vessel, the captain and any other crew members and ship operators could be held responsible.
In addition to actually steering and navigating the ship, the captain also oversees day to day operations. If there were problems with upkeep or cleanliness aboard the ship that caused injury or illness, the captain could be responsible. Similarly, if illness breaks out on board or the ship comes across bad weather and the captain does not properly handle the situation, the captain would be responsible for additional injuries or illness. The same is true for immediate safety concerns or dangers on the ship, such as crime, assault by crew or staff members, or ship damage.
Our cruise ship accident and injury lawyers have decades of experience handling cruise ship injury cases across a wide spectrum of causes, including claims based on the following:
- Passenger disappearance and falls overboard
- Slip and falls
- Injuries from cruise ship fire or explosion
- Passenger drowning
- Sexual assault and rape
- Cruise ship amusement or attraction injury
- Injuries at port
- Shore excursion injuries
Can You Sue a Cruise Ship Company for Injuries that Occur on a Ship?
With more than 30 years of experience representing injured cruise ship passengers nationally and internationally, our cruise ship accident and injury attorneys have experience bringing lawsuits against the following cruise ship lines:
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Costa Cruises
- Disney Cruise Lines
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Royal Caribbean International
- Princess Cruises
Many lawsuits against cruise ships and cruise lines are filed against the larger company that owns the vessel and employs the crew. These companies are ultimately responsible for the actions and mistakes of their crewmembers, and our cruise ship lawyers work to hold these companies liable in court.
When suing a cruise line, it is vital to work with an attorney. Cruise lines are often represented by strong legal teams and insurance companies that will work to shut down claims or offer low-dollar settlements to help end a case without the hassle of defending themselves in court. These companies will also often seek confidential settlements, so that word of their mistakes is not highly publicized. It is difficult to go up against these companies and their legal teams on your own, especially if your only information about what your claim is worth comes from the defendant.
Our lawyers may be able to help you understand what your claim is worth, and we can represent your best interests and help you avoid low settlements. Our lawyers fight for injured victims and work to get them the compensation and justice they deserve after a serious injury on a cruise ship.
Suing a Cruise Line Company for a Captain’s Errors
If you or a loved one was injured because of errors committed by the captain or other members of the ship’s crew, you might be entitled to sue the cruise line for the injuries and damages you faced. These lawsuits are often filed directly against the cruise line that operated the cruise ship since it is ultimately liable for errors committed by its employees and crew members.
In a lawsuit against the cruise company, you will need to prove that the cruise company or its employees were somehow “negligent.” The legal standard for negligence in these types of cases is that there was some legal duty that the captain or other crew member owed you and that they breached that duty. If this breach of duty caused your injuries, you should be entitled to any damages related to the incident.
The breach of duty can come from many different types of mistakes. For instance, unreasonable errors in judgement that put the ship, crew, or passengers in danger would be considered negligent in most courts. Similarly, unreasonable responses to problems or emergency situations would also be negligent if they caused injuries.
What Damages Are Available for Injuries that Occur on a Cruise Ship?
Most cruise ship accidents do not involve catastrophic damage to a ship, capsizing, or sinking. Instead, these injuries are often the same kinds of injuries you could receive in other places on land, such as head and back injuries from falls, broken bones, injuries from assault and battery, or food poisoning. However, some injuries are more severe and could include death or injury from falling overboard, a fire onboard the ship, a fire on a smaller vessel, plane, or helicopter during a tour, or other catastrophic shipboard injuries.
No matter what type of injury you suffered, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit to seek damages from the cruise ship and the other parties responsible for your injuries. If you lost a loved one to serious injuries or death, you might be entitled to file a lawsuit for the damages they incurred as well as damages you and your family faced because of their death.
Most injury cases require some sort of medical treatment. The care you receive onboard a cruise ship might include minimal first aid and other care to diagnose and stabilize you so that you can be medically evacuated to shore. This could mean seeking additional treatment at a foreign hospital or waiting until you get home to receive additional follow-up care. Any medical care and transportation costs you incur because of the injury you suffered on a cruise ship might be included as part of your claim against the cruise company, allowing you to get full compensation for the medical care your injuries required.
If your injuries were serious enough to cause you to miss work, you might be entitled to damages for lost wages as well. If the cruise company’s errors caused you to miss work or required you to go on disability, the cruise company should be responsible for the economic harm you and your family suffered.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are also included in most cruise ship injury cases. These damages are harder to show with medical records or financial statements, and they are instead proved through testimony about how the injury affected you and your day-to-day abilities. Permanent injuries and serious disabilities are often worth more in pain and suffering damages, but chronic low-level pain from back and neck injuries can also lead to surprisingly high compensation. Talk to a cruise ship lawyer for help understanding what these damages are worth so that you do not miss out on compensation you might be entitled to.
Lastly, the death of a loved one often results in a wide range of damages. Some of these damages are economic in nature, such as the cost of funeral and burial expenses or lost wages, lost investments, and lost inheritances resulting from the death. Other damages are less squarely economic, but you can still claim compensation for the value of lost counsel, lost household services, and other lost services your loved one provided before their death. You can also claim compensation for the intangible harms, such as lost companionship and affection from the loved one.
Talk to a cruise ship accident lawyer for help analyzing the value of your cruise ship injury or cruise ship wrongful death lawsuit.
How to File a Claim for Injuries That Occur Aboard a Cruise Ship
Cruise lines are governed by a specific area of law called maritime law. This law generally governs U.S. ships at sea. These cases are often filed against ships and their owners for injuries and other problems on board. In many cases, you will have to file your case under maritime law, but injuries that occur in port or while in waters near the shore might still be governed by the laws of a particular state instead. Injuries that occur in a foreign port or foreign waters might also be governed by the laws of that country instead of U.S. law, but issues on the ship should usually be governed by U.S. maritime law.
Nonetheless, under any type of law, you will typically file any injury claims against the parties that were responsible for your injuries. If you were injured by the negligence of a particular crewmember or another passenger, you may be able to sue them directly. However, most injuries on a cruise ship entitle you to file a lawsuit against the cruise ship and the company that owns it for errors committed by their staff and crew. This could mean potentially suing the following entities.
- The owner of the cruise ship
- The company that sold the cruise ship ticket
- The company operating or chartering the cruise ship
- Any party that caused the injury directly
- The cruise excursion or tour company that hosted an off-ship outing
Our cruise ship accident and injury attorneys will help you find the proper party to sue for damages in your case.
What Jurisdiction Do You File a Lawsuit Against a Cruise Ship?
According to 28 U.S.C. § 1333, maritime cases are under the exclusive jurisdiction of federal courts. This means you will likely have to file your lawsuit in the relevant U.S. District Court if your case falls under maritime law. It is important to check with our cruise ship accident and injury attorney about whether your case is governed by maritime or state law, as this will determine where you should file your lawsuit.
Under the same statute mentioned above, there is a caveat that may allow certain people to choose where they file their lawsuits. This caveat is sometimes called the Savings to Suitors clause because the law saves to suitors all other remedies to which they are entitled. To put it simply, certain individuals, like seamen and fishermen, might be required to bring their cases to federal court. Other people, like passengers on a cruise ship, may be able to choose where the file their case, in federal or state court.
It is also crucial that you check your ticket. Your ticket is a contract between you and the cruise ship company. Like many contracts, the ticket may contain information about how and where you can file a lawsuit. There may be restrictions on how you file your lawsuit. For example, the ticket might specify that you can only file a lawsuit in federal court. You should review your ticket information with an attorney before filing your lawsuit.
Proving Liability in a Cruise Ship Accident Lawsuit
To get compensation for your injuries, you typically must show that the responsible parties committed some sort of “negligence.” Negligence in a cruise injury case is based on a breach of a duty that the cruise company owed you.
The specific duty that they owe you will depend on the specifics of the injury, but the duty usually comes in the form of a duty to keep the ship safe, provide clean food and water, and provide reasonable security onboard the ship. It also involves the duty to refrain from intentionally injuring passengers.
A breach of the duty of care happens when a ship passenger experiences injury or harm. If you want to bring a lawsuit against a cruise ship for personal injury or damages, seek legal representation from our experienced maritime law attorneys.
We can help investigate what the cruise ship’s staff and crew did wrong and how this constitutes a legal breach of duty that can justify a court ordering compensation for your injuries. Our cruise ship accident and injury lawyers can help you meet the burden of proving your case by helping find and present evidence and witness testimony.
Comparative Negligence in Lawsuits Against Cruise Ships
When discussing negligence and fault in your lawsuit, it is important to consider the possibility of comparative negligence. Many states and Maritime law use a comparative negligence rule to weigh the defendant’s fault against the plaintiffs. A plaintiff found to share some of the blame for their accident may have their damages reduced.
Typically, a plaintiff’s damages might be reduced in proportion to their share of the blame. For example, if a defendant is found to be 70% at fault, and the plaintiff is deemed 30% at fault for their own accident, the plaintiff can only recover 70% of their total damages.
You should discuss every detail of your case with our cruise ship accident and injury lawyers to determine if the defendant can use the comparative fault rule against you. How was your behavior during the accident? Plaintiffs who were perhaps breaking the rules on board the ship might be deemed slightly responsible for their accident.
If a plaintiff was injured because of their reckless behavior (e.g., jumping over railings or swimming alongside the ship), their damages are likely to be reduced. You should also consider the warnings, if any, that were provided by the cruise ship crew and staff. For example, if you were injured because you entered a dangerous mechanical room, but there were no signs or warnings that passengers must keep out, you might not share and blame for the accident.
This is often a complicated discussion because many plaintiffs did not realize how their behavior contributed to their accident until it was too late. Our cruise ship accident and injury lawyers are here to talk about your case with you.
Cruise Ship & Common Carrier Liability
Because cruise ships are ‘common carriers,’ they must provide reasonable care to passengers. This obligation is called duty of care. Whether you are on a personal boat, a private ship, or a cruise ship, the ship owner has a duty to protect passengers from injury or harm. This duty means working to prevent accidents, intentional damage, and harm from some unforeseeable events by responding with reasonable care and skill to the passenger’s needs.
Shipowners must work to make sure passengers arrive at port safely and that they safeguard passengers from many types of accidental injuries. This means securing cargo and equipment that could injure passengers, repairing and cleaning hazards on the deck, providing clean food and drinking water to passengers, and providing adequate security and medical attention on board to keep passengers safe.
Cruise Ship Passenger Ticket Contracts and Restrictions on Cruise Ship Injury Claims
Cruise ship passengers often fail to realize their cruise ship ticket is a contract between them and the cruise line. The fine print on the back of the ticket is easily overlooked, or the ticket might refer to additional documentation that controls the terms of the service that the cruise ship provides you.
That fine print on the back of your ticket provides critical information that may affect your ability or eligibility to file a lawsuit against the cruise line. Cruise lines use this contract to try to limit the ways that a passenger can sue them and limit what duties and services they are required to provide the passenger. It is absolutely vital to review the terms of your passenger ticket to determine your right to sue and any limitations on that lawsuit.
A cruise line passenger ticket can often dictate where a lawsuit must be filed and the time limit to file the case. Many passenger tickets might dictate that any claims against the cruise ship will be handled through arbitration or through a court in a particular state or county. The contract might also limit your claim to the statute of limitations in that state or further restrict your claim.
These clauses and conditions of your passenger ticket are often enforceable in court. If you were injured on a cruise ship, it is vital to have a lawyer review your case and guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit under the terms and conditions of your passenger ticket. This might make the case more challenging, and your ability to proceed with your claim might rely upon your lawyer’s ability to file the claim appropriately to maximize the damages you are entitled to.
Evidence Needed in a Lawsuit Against a Cruise Ship for an Accident and Injuries
Proving the cruise ship company is responsible for your accident and injuries requires evidence from your accident. Evidence may take many forms, depending on how you were injured, who was involved, and where the accident occurred. Our cruise ship accident and injuries attorneys can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case and get compensation.
Photos and Videos
If possible, you should record some photos and videos immediately after the accident occurs. Accidents are usually cleaned up very quickly, and photos or videos can help preserve the scene as it was right after the accident occurred. This is extremely useful in showing a court exactly how your accident looked.
Many cruise ships are full of security cameras. If your accident happened in a public part of the ship where passengers and crew members are expected to be, a security camera was likely nearby. We can demand the security camera footage as part of the discovery process and review it for any helpful information. In some cases, the entire accident is caught on camera, and the security camera footage is the strongest piece of evidence in the plaintiff’s arsenal.
Even without photos and videos, we can still rely on witnesses to testify or provide statements about what they saw. For example, if your accident happened in front of other passengers, they may be interviewed about what they saw. We can even get them to testify in court if necessary.
Witnesses may be eyewitnesses who watched the accident unfold. Witnesses might instead have information about what happened behind the scenes. For example, a witness might be able to state that they saw crewmembers failing to properly maintain the area of the ship where your accident happened.
You must also have proof of your damages. Your medical records are imperative to show a court the extent of your injuries and the costs of treatment. You might have also suffered other damages, like property damage or lost earnings. Receipts or invoices from insurance regarding lost property may be very helpful. Paystubs establishing the value of your lost earnings are also crucial.
We can also use the ship’s maintenance records to prove the ship was not properly maintained. If poor ship maintenance is the cause of your accident, records regarding how and when the ship was last inspected and the maintenance duties of crewmembers will be crucial.
How Much Money is a Cruise Ship Accident Lawsuit Worth?
Exactly how much money a cruise ship accident lawsuit is worth depends on various factors. All these factors should be discussed with an attorney so you can get an idea of what your case is worth. Discussing the overall possible value of your case is important so you get an idea of what your damages are worth and what a good settlement should look like.
The value of your case will depend largely on your damages and the extent of your injuries. Generally, the more severe your injuries, the more valuable your case. This is why it is important to consult with an attorney about your damages. Our cruise ship accident and injuries lawyers can accurately calculate your damages to determine how much your case might be worth.
Wrongful death cases involving cruise ships have settled for very large sums of money, sometimes several hundred thousand dollars or more. A wrongful death is considered an extremely severe situation, and these cases are often worth great sums of money.
Minor injuries are likely to receive smaller settlements, but with the cost of medical care and various other expenses, many plaintiffs receive several thousand dollars. Discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Our Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you or a loved one suffered an accident on a cruise ship or shore excursion, you might be entitled to compensation for the damages you and your family faced. Contact the experienced cruise ship injury attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today. Call us today for a free case evaluation at (866) 386-1762.