Do People Die on Cruise Ships?

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    Do People Die on Cruise Ships?

    Unfortunately, people can, and do, die on cruise ships each year. Causes of deaths vary, but are most commonly due to negligence on behalf of a cruise ship company.

    Cruise ship deaths are not uncommon. Unfortunately, cruise ships might intentionally underreport the number of deaths of passengers annually, resulting in unclear data. Common causes of death aboard cruise ships include drownings, slips and falls, assaults, and other incidents. If your loved one died aboard a cruise ship, it is important to learn which jurisdiction you will have to bring a wrongful death claim in and how long you will have to do so. Ticket provisions might impact a survivor’s case, depending on the circumstances.

    To schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case with our cruise ship injury attorneys, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today at (305) 204-5369.

    How Often Do People Die on Cruise Ships?

    Because of the many hazards that cruise ships present to passengers, deaths are not uncommon. It is challenging to ascertain the exact number of cruise ship deaths annually, as reporting varies.

    American cruise lines are required to publish mortality rates on their websites. While many cruise lines do adhere to this requirement, not all deaths may be reported to companies or qualify as deaths that would be published on a company’s website.

    Additionally, not all Americans go on cruises that set off from the United States. Foreign cruise lines may not have the same reporting requirements regarding mortalities. Furthermore, deaths in international waters may be easier to evade responsibility for.

    According to a recent study from the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health, there were 623 reported deaths across 78 cruise lines over the course of 19 years. Of those, 89% were passenger deaths. Considering the number of cruise lines in the world, and the number of deaths that may go unreported, passenger deaths might be more common than reported by the study. For example, passengers that go missing while aboard cruise ships may not be included in mortality data.

    How Do People Most Often Die on Cruise Ships?

    There are several main causes of passenger deaths aboard cruise ships. They include drownings, slips and falls, and assaults. Some passengers might disappear while traveling on a cruise ship, making their deaths presumed. Less common causes of deaths include onboard incidents, like fires, and even vessel collisions.


    Cruise ships are extremely large vessels with decks many feet above the water. When safety rails are insufficient, or passengers fall overboard for other reasons, they might drown. Even the impact of hitting the water from falling at such a height might cause a passenger’s death. If passengers survive the initial fall, they might not receive assistance quickly enough, especially if the cruise ship is moving and not docked.

    Slip and Falls

    While slip and falls might result in a cruise ship passenger falling overboard, they can also result in passengers sustaining life-threatening injuries on board a ship. Slips and falls, wherever they take place, can cause debilitating head or spinal injuries that lead to a victim’s death. A cruise ship company could be liable for a slip and fall accident resulting in death if its negligence caused it.


    Unfortunately, assaults might happen aboard cruise ships, causing a passenger’s death. Assaults most typically occur from crew members or other passengers. While deaths from assaults might happen, they are typically one of the rarest cause of death among cruise ship passengers.

    Other Accidents

    Although uncommon, cruise ships might malfunction, sink, or have other incidents that cause a passenger’s death. Fires onboard and collisions into reefs could happened, resulting in several passenger deaths. Some passengers might go missing while on a cruise ship and be presumed to have fallen overboard and drowned. In addition to accidents, many deaths occur on cruise ships because of natural causes.

    What to Do if Your Loved One Died on a Cruise Ship?

    If your loved one recently died while vacationing on a cruise ship, it is important to determine the reason for their death and proceed with litigation against the at-fault party. Wrongful death claims against cruise ships are typically, but not always, filed under U.S. maritime law.

    Unless your loved one died on a cruise ship while in state waters, or their passenger ticket stipulates otherwise, your wrongful death claim may be brought under U.S. maritime law. This means that the process of filing a lawsuit, and the time you will have to do so, may differ. Eligible plaintiffs will likely have three years to file a wrongful death claim against a negligent cruise line under U.S. maritime law.

    That said, some cruise lines put caveats in tickets that require injured passengers or survivors of passengers that died at sea to sue or notify of their intent to sue sooner than three years. Our maritime wrongful death attorneys will carefully read the fine print on the deceased passenger’s ticket to determine whether or not you need to act more quickly with your case. Ticket provisions might also require passengers or survivors of deceased passengers to file a lawsuit in a specific state. Adhering to this provision is also important, as failure might prevent you from getting justice for your loved one.

    In addition to confirming where you can sue and how long you will have to do so, you must also gather evidence of a cruise line’s negligence. This is often challenging, especially when deaths happen at sea in international waters. Fortunately, cruise ships typically have security cameras, which, if accessed quickly enough, can demonstrate the cause of a victim’s death. Eyewitness statements and expert testimony can have a similar effect.

    Call Our Lawyers About a Cruise Ship Death Today

    Contact Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. for a free review of your case by calling our Miami cruise ship accident attorneys at (305) 204-5369.

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