Cruise Ship Shore Excursion Injuries & Accidents
We have all heard cruise ships being referred to as floating hotels these days. The difference is that cruise ships travel from one port to the next and that is the major attraction to passengers deciding to take a trip on a cruise ship. The exotic ports entice passengers to pay to go on a cruise. Most passengers will participate in one or more shoreside excursions that are offered by the cruise ship company. Discovery in different cases has revealed that the cruise lines can make substantial money from the shoreside excursions that are promoted to the passengers. However, the cruise ship company includes a provision in their passenger tickets saying that these shoreside excursion companies are independent contractors and therefore the cruise lines declines liability for their negligence. Since the shoreside excursions are mainly in foreign countries, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a United States passenger to get jurisdiction over a shoreside excursion company here in the United States to sue them for their negligence, assuming that the shoreside excursion company has insurance to cover such claims or is otherwise a company with enough assets to pay a judgment.
The law of the United States has recognized the shoreside excursion companies as independent contractors, and therefore it is necessary that alternative theories of liability be asserted against a cruise line company when trying to sue for an accident that happens during one of the shoreside excursion companies. An experienced maritime attorney will be able to explore alternative theories of liability other than simply alleging vicarious liability on the part of the cruise ship company for the negligent acts of the shoreside excursion operator.
If you are considering a cruise and signing up for the shoreside excursions, you should ask questions of the cruise ship company regarding their knowledge of the shoreside excursion operator, and ask whether these shoreside excursion operators are insured and licensed for the type of services they are providing. You should research any prior experience with these companies. You should obtain direct representations from someone at the cruise ship company as to what, if anything, the cruise ship company has done to look into the safety of these companies, including how well the shoreside excursion operators/employees are trained. There are instances where the cruise ship company procures insurance coverage for liability for accidents that happen during shoreside excursions, and this possibility should also be explored.
As always, a passenger should hold on to their passenger ticket, and carefully consult all the terms and conditions, including those contained in small print.
For more information regarding any potential claims you may have, please feel free to contact the Law Firm of RIVKIND & MARGULIES, P.A. for a free consultation.