How Do I Sue a Cruise Ship Company?
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Cruise ships carry millions of passengers each year. While most people will go on a cruise without any serious issues, others find themselves facing serious injuries from accidents, illness, or crime aboard the ship. If the company that operates the ship was responsible for the harm you faced, you might be entitled to sue them for the damages the injuries or illness caused you. The Miami cruise accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind explain how to sue a cruise ship company and how your case will proceed.
When Can You Sue a Cruise Ship Company for Injuries and Illness?
The company that operates a cruise ship is responsible for nearly everything that happens on the ship. It is up to them to provide clean water and food, it is up to them to ensure the conditions on the ship are safe, and it is up to them to make sure that staff and crewmembers are properly trained to avoid injuries and accidents. If the cruise ship company fails in any of these areas, passengers could be injured – and they might be able to sue for damages.
Lawsuits against cruise ship companies usually work on a theory of “negligence.” Under a claim like this, you will usually claim that the cruise ship and its employees failed to use the proper care and skill necessary to keep you safe. These claims require proving that the cruise company owed you a legal duty, that they breached that duty, and that the breach of duty caused your injuries and damages.
Other claims could be based on intentional injuries or acts. If these intentional acts were committed by crewmembers on the ship, the cruise ship company is usually responsible for their actions as their employer. They might also be responsible for hiring a crewmember they should have known was dangerous. If the injuries were caused by another passenger’s intentional acts, the cruise ship company could be responsible for failing to provide adequate security aboard the ship.
How to File a Lawsuit Against a Cruise Ship for Injuries
The process of filing a lawsuit is complex. Most people filing lawsuits in court work with an attorney who is more experienced in the filing process and the kinds of language that needs to be used to precisely explain your claims to the court.
A case against a cruise ship company will be filed in certain courts depending on a few different factors. First, your passenger ticket might act as a contract that dictates where the case should be filed. For instance, since many cruise companies are headquartered in Florida, cruise ship injury lawsuits in Miami are a very common occurrence.
If the accident happened in state waters, the case will likely be filed in state court in the state where the accident happened. This is common for injuries from boarding a cruise ship, injuries on a cruise ship gangway, or injuries on a cruise ship at port.
If the accident happened in U.S. waters or international waters, the claim might be filed under maritime law. U.S. maritime law covers accidents at sea, which are often filed in federal court. A maritime injury lawyer like those at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind handle these kinds of cases on behalf of injury victims.
The Process of Cruise Ship Accident Lawsuits
After filing your cruise ship accident lawsuit, you will need to go through multiple stages. The initial stages of your case will include filing the initial complaint, serving the defendant with the complaint, and awaiting their response. Both sides will usually file motions at this stage saying that they should win the case as a matter of law, and that even if the facts were exactly as the other party alleged, they could not win their case. If you do not win your case at this stage, it will move on to “discovery.”
During the discovery stage of a lawsuit, both sides exchange relevant evidence, answer interrogatory questions they send each other, and take depositions. Depositions are interviews that are very similar to in-court testimony where both sides can summon witnesses to sit down, answer questions under oath, and gather the information and evidence they need.
If the case moves beyond discovery, it will be scheduled for trial. Trials can be held before a jury in most cases, and the jury will be the one to decide whose facts are true. Both sides will present opening statements, evidence and witnesses, and closing arguments. Then the jury will deliberate and issue a ruling on the case.
If the jury believes that your case is true “by a preponderance of the evidence,” they should rule in your favor. This means that the jury believes it is “more likely than not” that you were injured the way you claim and that the cruise ship company is at fault.
How Do I Settle a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Cruise Ship Company?
If you are filing a lawsuit against a cruise ship company, it likely means that you have serious damages that you need covered as soon as possible. Most cruise ship injury lawsuits in Miami are settled out of court, which can help the victim get compensation faster. However, accepting a settlement might mean sacrificing damages that you might be able to receive at trial. Always talk to a lawyer before settling to get help understanding whether the damages offered are enough to cover your case or not.
To settle a case, you merely make an agreement with the at-fault party. Sometimes they make the offer, and other times you will state a dollar value that you are happy settling for. Settlement negotiations take place throughout the legal process as the case continues, and they may involve offers of various terms from both sides. Cruise ship companies often want nondisclosure agreements as part of their settlements so that you do not tell anyone how much you settled for and do not reveal information about your accident or injury to the press or the general public. Our lawyers will help to push for fair terms that get you justice and fair compensation. That might mean requesting a premium settlement if those terms are to be included.
Call Our Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers for Help Filing Your Lawsuit Against a Cruise Ship Company
If you or a loved one was injured on a cruise ship, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today. Our cruise ship injury and maritime injury lawyer represent injury victims and work to get them the compensation they need from negligent cruise ships and cruise lines. For a free legal consultation on your potential case, call us today at (305) 204-5369.