Cruise ship getaways are some of the most popular vacation choices in the United States, and it’s not hard to see why. They offer great value for families traveling on a budget, allow you to visit multiple destinations, and offer premium cuisine for their guests. While most cruise ship guests return home with a wealth of positive memories and experiences, not everyone is so lucky. Injuries on cruise ships are fairly common. If you or a loved one was injured in one of these cruise ship accidents which occurred due to negligence, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
What Laws Govern Cruise Ships?
Lawsuits for cruise ship injuries are bound by different rules than lawsuits for injuries which occur on land in the US. This is because most cruise ships are registered in countries other than the United States, such as Panama, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. Since United States laws don’t apply to vessels registered in other countries, cruise ship lines are bound by maritime law. Maritime law applies to international waters, which begin 24 miles from land. According to maritime law, cruise ship operators may be held liable for passenger injuries only if they knew or should have known about the danger which caused the injuries.
Determining which laws apply can be complicated, based on the laws of the country where the ship is registered, international maritime law, and United States laws. This is why it’s necessary for victims of cruise ship accidents to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who has a detailed understand of maritime law and how various laws apply to cruise ship accidents.
When Is A Cruise Line Considered Negligent?
Cruise lines may be considered negligent when a foreseeable danger leads to an injury. Employees of cruise ships have a duty to keep passengers safe. If cruise ship management or an employee fails to address a dangerous condition which leads to an injury, they could be held liable for their negligence.
Common examples of cruise ship accidents and injuries caused by negligence include:
- Slip and fall accidents – It’s important for cruise ships to be regularly cleaned and maintained to avoid slip, trip, and fall hazards. Examples of these hazards include wet floors and decks, ripped or torn carpets, faulty steps or staircases, and inadequate lighting. If employees are aware of slip and fall hazards, fail to address them, and a passenger gets injured, the cruise ship line could be held liable for negligence
- Collisions and groundings – Collisions and groundings can cause serious injuries and even death if passengers are forced to abandon the ship. If a collision or grounding happens due to an operator mistake, the cruise line could be held liable for negligence.
- Fires – On-board fires can cause injuries related to burns, smoke inhalation, heat stroke, dehydration, and more. In August 2016, a cruise ship fire occurred off the coast of Puerto Rico and over 500 passengers had to be evacuated. If a fire was started due to employee or cruise line negligence, injury victims could have a case for a personal injury lawsuit.
- Sexual assaults – Sexual assaults by other passengers and cruise ship staff members are unfortunately not uncommon. Cruise ships are required to have proper response systems in place in case of a sexual assault, including medical staff trained in how to conduct a forensic exam and a plan for notifying the appropriate law enforcement authorities. If a sexual assault occurs due to forms of negligence, such as inadequate security staff, the cruise line could face liability in a personal injury lawsuit.
While some cruise ship accidents are unavoidable, many others could have easily been prevented if not for the negligence of the cruise ship line or an employee.
How Do Claims Work For Ships That Have Left From New York?
Cruise ship tickets essentially act as legal contracts. These tickets have details regarding liability and where lawsuits may be filed, which are printed on the back of the ticket. If you’re looking to file a lawsuit, you will usually be filing it in the location where the cruise line is based, which is Florida for most cruise lines. This ticket will also specify the time limit you have for filing a claim. While the statute of limitations is three years for most personal injury claims in New York, this limit is often reduced to 12 months for cruise ship injuries.
Each cruise ship injury is unique and depends on a variety of complicated circumstances including:
- The cruise line
- The liability clauses printed on the ticket
- The location of the ship at the time of an accident
- The country the cruise line is based in
As you can imagine, filing a personal injury for a cruise ship injury is extremely complicated. But don’t let this discourage you. If you were injured due to cruise ship negligence, you deserve compensation for the variety of difficulties you may face.
At Lipsig, our experienced personal injury lawyers are familiar with the complexities of maritime law and how these various factors influence liability for cruise ship injuries. We would be more than happy to meet with you, hear you story, and help you understand your rights for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
We’re prepared to seek damages from all cruise lines which leave from the New York area, including:
- Princess Cruises
- Holland America Line
- Norwegian Cruse Line
- Crystal Cruises
- Oceania Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- MSC Cruises
Our firm offers free initial consultations and we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us nothing unless we win for you.