Falling overboard is an understandable concern when going on a cruise. If you happen to fall into the sea, does the cruise ship have to at least attempt to rescue you?
Cruise ships should respond to reports of passengers falling overboard by tracking their locations, alerting the necessary authorities, and informing the victims’ families, among other necessary steps. While cruise ships have a responsibility to engage in reasonable search and rescue operations, they, unfortunately, do not always do so, which is why falls overboard are a top cause of passenger and crew member deaths. If a cruise ship does not attempt to rescue a victim, and the victim is injured or dies, the surviving family can typically seek compensation via a lawsuit.
To have our cruise ship injury lawyers assess your case for free, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today at (305) 204-5369.
How Should Cruise Ships Respond to a Passenger Going Overboard?
Cruise ships have a responsibility to their passengers to perform reasonable search and rescue operations if a passenger falls overboard while at sea.
There are several protocols cruise ships should follow when a passenger goes overboard, which are often influenced by those recommended by the International Maritime Association and the U.S. Coast Guard. If a crew member or passenger witnessed a passenger fall overboard, they should alert the captain as well as any emergency response teams on board. Cruise ships typically have set steps to follow in these situations. These steps typically include throwing life vests into the water in the area where a passenger fell. Crew members should then mark the location, alert others on board, and inform the proper authorities. Depending on the location of the fall, that might be the U.S. Coast Guard or foreign authorities. If a U.S. citizen has gone missing, the cruise ship has a responsibility to inform the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The passenger’s family should also be informed as soon as possible. Individual cruise lines might have company-specific protocols they follow in such circumstances.
Failing to engage in reasonable search and rescue operations could cost a passenger that fell overboard their life. Our cruise ship injury lawyers can help your loved one who fell overboard and died as a result of the cruise ship’s failure to inform the necessary authorities or take the proper steps to rescue the victim.
How Often Do Cruise Ships Rescue Passengers that Go Overboard?
When cruise ships do not take the necessary action in response to a passenger or crew member falling overboard, victims might die as a result. Data suggests that cruise ships might not always follow the proper protocol regarding a missing or fallen overboard passenger.
Depending on the height from which passengers or crew members fall from cruise ships, they might survive the fall and find themselves in the water. When this happens, acting quickly is crucial to save victims from drowning. Unfortunately, falling overboard is a leading cause of deaths on cruise ships. According to a recent study published by the International Journal of Travel Medicine and Global Health, falls overboard or onto lower decks were the cause of 23% of passenger deaths. And falls overboard or from a height were the causes of 24% of crew member deaths.
These numbers indicate that cruise ships are not always necessarily responsive to reports that passengers have fallen overboard. Furthermore, it is important to understand that while cruise ships are required to report incidents to the authorities, they do not always do so, meaning data about deaths from falls overboard might be skewed. It is also necessary to consider that individuals reported missing from cruise ships might have fallen overboard and simply not been rescued.
If a cruise ship does not attempt to rescue a passenger or crew member that has fallen overboard, they might be more likely to die at sea, which could enable their surviving family members to file a lawsuit against the cruise ship in question.
What if a Cruise Ship Does Not Attempt to Rescue a Passenger that Went Overboard?
If a cruise ship did not make any attempts to rescue your loved one after they fell overboard, and they died as a result, you may be able to file a lawsuit to hold the cruise ship responsible.
As previously discussed, cruise ship companies have a responsibility to their passengers to engage in reasonable search and rescue operations should a passenger be reported missing or fall overboard. Taking the proper steps increases the chances that a passenger or crew member be rescued at sea. If your loved one was not rescued and you suspect that the cruise ship did not report them missing or inform the proper authorities of the fact that they fell overboard, you may be able to sue.
Filing a wrongful death claim, or a personal injury claim in cases where victims survive a fall, against a cruise ship can be challenging. Determining jurisdiction in these cases will be done by assessing the caveats listed on the passenger ticket. Either the case will be tried in maritime court or a state specified by the cruise ship. This might mean you have more or less time to sue, depending on the statute of limitations for such claims in the specific jurisdiction.
To succeed, plaintiffs must be able to prove that a cruise ship did not make any attempts to rescue the victim. That requires evidence that officials on the cruise ship were made aware of the victim falling overboard and knowingly waited to contact the authorities, chose not to track the victim’s location, or simply ignored the report that the victim fell overboard.
Call Our Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys About Your Claim
For help with your case from Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., call our Miami cruise ship injury lawyers now at (305) 204-5369.