There are all sorts of injuries that a passenger can sustain while onboard a cruise ship. For instance, water accumulation on the deck can cause it to become slick and result in a passenger hurting themselves due to a slip and fall. Injuries that commonly occur on cruise ships include:
Additional reasons for taking action against a cruise line include wrongful death, passenger disappearance, security negligence, and any miscellaneous injuries that may happen during your stay aboard the ship.
Laws that apply
Cruise lines are governed by specific maritime and admiralty laws that have jurisdiction because the cruise ship injury either was sustained while in oceanic waters or along the coast. Without the advice of an attorney, finding fault with a cruise ship to explain an injury can be difficult. Lawyers often refer their clients who were injured on a cruise to firms with a concentration in maritime and admiralty rules and regulations. Since there are a number of cruise lines based in foreign countries, the laws of the country to which the ship is registered may apply to the circumstances and act in a more favorable manner on behalf of the claimant than US law would have.
Statute of limitations
The statute of limitations, or the amount of time you are given before you no longer can file a lawsuit, varies from state to state. For a cruise ship injury, the victim may only have up to one year from the date of the injury until time expires to press charges. This holds true even if the passenger is still receiving medical care more than a year after suffering the injury. The standard statute of limitations is three years for admiralty and maritime cases, but cruise lines commonly include a modification to their contract located on the admission ticket that shortens the statute of limitations to a year. Certain terms, such as the specific region where the cruise company may be sued, may also be printed on the passenger's ticket based on what is referred to as the forum selection clause. Almost all US cruise lines have a home base in Miami, FL and specify that any passenger lawsuits must take place there as well.
What to do if you are injured
If you are hurt while onboard a cruise ship, be sure to record all the details of your injury. Then, report the injury to the proper authorities as quickly as you can, and also notify the ship operator or owner in addition to the travel agent who originally presented you with the tickets. Punctual submission of a written statement summarizing the accident will help you build a valid legal case down the road. Passengers should hoard any accident reports along with all other correspondence between them and the cruise line regarding the injury.
An injured passenger should gather the accounts of any fellow passengers who may have witnessed the accident to back up their claim. Evidence to support your theory may also be gathered from the ship's staff members, but you should only use them as a last resort. In addition to eyewitness accounts, make sure you have a name and address that corresponds to each story. The accident victim should also amass any promotional material, ticket vouchers, photographs of the scene, an official claim forms related to the injury.
It can be expected that cruise line operators and their insurance providers will thoroughly examine the surrounding circumstances and protect themselves against an accident liability claim. For this reason, it is in the victim's best interest to hire an attorney with experience in the field of maritime and admiralty.
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