When you plan a cruise, you expect relaxation and fun. Spending a week aboard a ship filled with activities and food is a luxurious experience. While most cruise ship passengers enjoy their vacation without incident, sometimes accidents happen. In fact, thousands of illnesses, criminal acts, injuries, and deaths occur every year.
These incidents tend to happen due to the negligence of a captain or company, a ship’s lack of seaworthiness, or misconduct by crews or fellow passengers. Most of these incidents take place in international waters, complicating the legal process of obtaining compensation.
Fortunately, the law gives injured passengers a legal remedy to hold cruise ship owners, operators, and other liable parties accountable for negligence.
Cruise Ship Liability
Ship owners and operators have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to keep passengers safe. While not all accidents can be prevented, the law requires that cruise ship operators exercise due caution.
Still, the injured passenger has the burden of proof to prove negligence. To prove liability, four elements must be met:
- Duty. The ship’s owner, captain, or crew owed passengers a legal duty to prevent harm.
- Breach. The ship’s crew behaved in a reckless or otherwise negligent manner that caused harm to passengers.
- Cause. The breach of duty caused injuries to the passenger.
- Damages. The passenger must have sustained some kind of economic or noneconomic damages to file a lawsuit.
Common Cruise Ship Health Problems and Incidents
With so many people aboard and so much food, cruise ship passengers face a high risk of illness. Here are some common health problems to be aware of:
- Food poisoning. With so much food kept out in warm temperatures, bacteria are bound to set in. Many cruise passengers experience norovirus, which is characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Follow food safety guidelines and wash your hands before eating.
- Flu. Flu spreads quickly on a cruise ship. Get your flu shot before you take your cruise. Also, practice good hygiene, such as hand washing.
- Legionnaires’ disease. This is a serious type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. People can get Legionnaires’ disease by breathing in small droplets of water or accidentally swallowing water containing Legionella.
- Regional infections. You may get various infections, depending on where you travel. For example, yellow fever outbreaks are common around Africa, while European cruises are prone to chickenpox and rubella. Make sure your vaccines are up to date before you travel.
- Seasickness. If you suffer from motion sickness, then expect to get sick on your cruise. Talk to your doctor ahead of time to learn about medicines and natural remedies that can help.
Many accidents may also occur on a cruise ship. They include:
- Slips and falls. Liquids can spill on the ship, or there may be puddles by the swimming pool, causing guests to slip.
- Swimming pool accidents. Drownings and diving board accidents can occur.
- Elevator and escalator accidents. If elevators and escalators are not properly maintained, they can break down and cause injuries to users.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals. Many ships burn waste on board, so cruise ship passengers may be exposed to toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, furans, and dioxins.
- Broken ladders and railings. Ladders and railings need to be checked frequently and repaired as needed.
- Falling objects. Objects can fall off shelves or high places, causing injuries to victims.
- Bedbug bites. Bedbugs are common in frequently used beds such as those on cruise ships.
- Fires. Fires can break out in the kitchen or engine area of the ship, spreading to other parts of the vessel and burning passengers.
Possible Restrictions to Claims
As an injured passenger, you may face restrictions on claims such as:
- Time limits to file lawsuits
- Time limits to file notice of claims
- Limitations on damages
- Jurisdiction to hear cases
Information about these restrictions can often be found on tickets or with paperwork that accompanied the ticket. Check these documents carefully for information about the time limits that apply. Otherwise, if you file too late, you could lose out on your rights to recover compensation.
If you are injured on a cruise ship, be sure to seek immediate medical attention and contact an attorney to ensure you understand the laws involved. Your lawyer can help you file a claim, establish liability, and get the compensation you deserve for your damages.
Contact Us Today
Cruise ships are supposed to be fun and relaxing, but sometimes accidents occur. These incidents can cause serious injuries and death. Who is liable? Can you receive compensation? The team at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm, can help you get your questions answered. Our attorneys represent the legal interests of passengers injured by the careless actions of others and will work hard to get you the compensation and justice you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call (954) 876-4344 or fill out the online form. We have offices in Weston, Coral Gables, and Daytona Beach.