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What Can I Do if I’m Injured on a Cruise Ship?

A cruise can be a fantastic way to enjoy your vacation time, but it’s vital to know what you should do in the event of an injury on a cruise ship. Whenever a customer suffers an injury in a place of business, the business owner typically bears the brunt of the liability. However, cruise ship injuries may touch on various aspects of the law, including common carrier laws, maritime law, and personal injury.

Cruise ship operators must exercise reasonable care while discharging their duties and carrying passengers. This also means the cruise ship operators must follow all applicable maritime laws, conduct thorough and proper maintenance of all vessels, and properly train all staff members. It’s important to note that common carriers are often liable for passenger injuries that result from intentional acts or negligence, regardless of intent, but are not strictly liable for all passenger injuries.

Filing Claims for Cruise Ship Injuries

If you set sail on a cruise, inspect your ticket and all the information the carrier provides before departure. In most cases, you may only file legal claims in the state specified by the carrier, regardless of where on your cruise the injury took place. It’s also important to note that most cruise carriers do not register in the United States, but rather other countries where they make port, such as various Caribbean island nations or South American countries. These places typically have more relaxed safety and labor standards than the United States.

Maritime law applies in these situations. Under maritime laws, a carrier is only liable for a passenger injury if the plaintiff can prove the carrier knew or should have known about the unsafe condition that caused the injury. If the carrier created or failed to address a foreseeably hazardous issue, the carrier is liable for resulting injuries under maritime laws.

Waivers and Legal Contracts

Most of the information you need regarding lawsuits against a cruise carrier is on the back of your ticket. In addition to specifying the state in which you must file claims, the ticket also presents a legal contract to which you agree by boarding the vessel and taking part in the cruise. The ticket will also explain the statute of limitations, or time limit, you have for filing claims for damages against the carrier. It’s vital to keep this information available in case of an accident so you can file all the necessary paperwork on time.

It’s also important to note that many of these contracts include limited liability waivers or other releases of liability; however, these may not fully protect a carrier from liability if you suffer an injury. Depending on the specific details of your situation, these waivers may not hold up in court.

Proving Negligence

Injured plaintiffs must prove that a cruise carrier acted in a way that was inconsistent with how a “reasonably careful ship operator” would have in the same situation. If you suffer an injury aboard a cruise ship, your attorney must prove the operator either knew about the injury-causing hazard, or should have known about it. The question of “foreseeability” arises quite often in these disputes, and the law accounts for the fact that even the most diligent operator cannot fully account for every conceivable dangerous condition.  When cruise operator employees cause harm to passengers through negligence or willful acts, the operator typically assumes liability.

Ultimately, an injury on a cruise ship can quickly turn into a complex legal issue requiring professional attention. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to find an attorney who has experience with personal injury lawsuits, maritime law, and common carrier laws. Look for a track record of success in similar cases when searching for a lawyer to represent your case.