There are many forms of negligent behavior exhibited by cruise ship workers that cause passengers to suffer serious harm. For instance, someone may slip and fall because a ship’s crew did not put up warning signs for a slippery deck. Further, a passenger may sustain a serious injury because they were overserved by a ship’s bartender.
Most cruise ship injury claims are filed in federal court. Furthermore, many cruise ship tickets contain “forum selection clauses” that designate where injured passengers have to file their cases. For instance, many Miami-based cruise lines like Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean require that cruise ship accident lawsuits filed against them are brought to court in Miami-Dade County, FL.
After being injured on a cruise ship, seek help from our experienced cruise ship accident and injury lawyers by calling Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369.
When to File Your Cruise Ship Injury Claim in Federal Court
Most cruise ship injury claims are filed in federal court. That is because injuries that occur on the open water are considered to be issues of maritime law. Maritime law consists of a multitude of federal regulations and laws that govern the operation of open-water vessels. Fortunately, our legal team has a thorough understanding of maritime law. Our Costa cruise ship accident and injury lawyers can help assess your claim and explain the appropriate course of action.
When to File Your Cruise Ship Injury Claim in State Court
State waterways extend 3 nautical miles from the Atlantic shore and 9 nautical miles from the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. In general, boating accidents that occur within state waterways must be filed in state court. For instance, if your cruise ship injury occurred while your ship was within the waterways of the state of Florida, then your case will likely be filed in state court in Florida.
Forum Selection Clauses for Cruise Ship Injury Lawsuits
Cruise lines are entitled to select the forums where passengers’ claims must be filed. “Forum selection clauses” are usually contained within ticket packages and they dictate where victims of cruise ship accidents have to bring their cases.
Many cruise lines whose ships depart from South Florida require that injured passengers file their claims in Miami-Dade County. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines requires that all federal claims filed against them are brought to the United District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. Even if Carnival passengers’ claims are considered matters of state law, the cruise line still asserts that these claims must be filed in Miami-Dade County courts.
Multiple Supreme Court decisions have upheld the use of these forum selection clauses in cruise ship accident cases. For example, in Wiggins v. Carnival Corporation, the Court mandated that the forum selection clause should be enforced despite plaintiffs arguing that they were not notified of the clause and that the clause was unfair. Furthermore, in Valenti v. Norwegian Cruise Line, the Court established that a forum selection cause in a maritime contract is accepted as valid unless there is an independent justification for refusing its enforcement.
When Will International Laws Apply to Your Cruise Ship Injury Claim?
A high number of cruise ship passengers travel to foreign ports to take place in exciting excursions. The laws of foreign countries can vary drastically from the laws of our own. Accordingly, many passengers who are injured on such excursions wonder which laws apply to their potential claims. The answer will typically depend on the location where plaintiffs’ accidents occurred.
In general, accidents that happen onboard cruise ships will be governed by U.S. maritime laws. However, if you are hurt while on shore during an excursion in another country, then the laws of that country will probably apply to your case.
Different rules may apply to your case if you were hurt in a foreign country as the result of crime. In such cases, the FBI may need to get involved to investigate the alleged crimes. Typically, they will work with the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs to determine their level of involvement.
Steps to Take After Filing Your Cruise Ship Injury Claim
After filing your cruise ship injury case, there are certain steps you must take to ensure that your claim succeeds. You should be prepared to take the following actions:
First, you must collect and preserve evidence that proves your injury was caused by cruise ship workers’ negligence. There are several different forms of evidence that may be utilized. For example, you may use witness statements, expert witness testimony, surveillance footage, and medical records to prove your case.
Negotiate for Fair Payment
Typically, before your cruise ship injury claim goes to trial, the defendant will attempt to entice a settlement agreement. If you accept a settlement offer, you will receive a certain amount of payment and your case will be dismissed. There are positives to settling early. For example, you may save on expenses like witness fees and administrative costs. Also, by reaching a settlement agreement, you may obtain monetary damages sooner.
Unfortunately, many cruise lines attempt to settle passengers’ claims for less than they are worth. There are several tactics defendants may utilize to trick plaintiffs into accepting low settlement offers. If an adequate settlement offer is not presented, you will have to go to trial to obtain the payment you deserve.
Present Your Case at Trial
Finally, you will have to present your case at trial. Cruise lines are often represented by expensive defense teams that will look for any opportunity to poke holes in plaintiffs’ claims. Therefore, experienced legal representation can be immensely valuable when going up against defendants’ lawyers in cruise ship injury cases.
Victims of Cruise Ship Accidents Can Reach Out to Our Law Firm for Support
In the aftermath of a harmful cruise ship accident, seek guidance and support from our Miami cruise ship accident and injury lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. by dialing (305) 204-5369.