Recently in Cruise Ship Passenger Injury Law Category

December 15, 2014

What to Do When You have a Cruise Ship Slip and Fall Accident

Cruise Slip and Fall Accident.jpgCruise ship slip and fall injuries occur with regularity. These accidents occur so often that cruise lines have investigation procedures in place designed to gather evidence and information in a way to help them should they be sued.

The process starts at the ship's medical facility. It is very common for a passenger to be given a statement form at the medical facility to fill out. Within the statement form is usually a question asking "What could you have done to prevent the accident." This whole purpose of this question is to get the injured passenger to admit he or she was at fault. If the passenger indicates that he or she could have done something to prevent the accident, the cruise line's lawyers will use that statement against the passenger. The cruise line's efforts to gain evidence to support their defenses do not end there.

A safety officer is also dispatched to investigate the claim as part the cruise line's procedures when passenger reports an accident. The safety officer often times interviews the injured passenger, travel companions and any eyewitness. Part of the reason behind these interviews is to elicit admissions that the injured person was at fault and the cruise line was not at fault. Furthermore, CCTV video of the area is reviewed. If this video is helpful to the cruise line, it will save it to be played latter at trial.

Many times when a slip and fall accident occurs, there are no signs or cones placed in the area warning the passenger of the slippery condition of the deck. After the accident, crew members erect signs and cones in the area of the accident. Also, the crew members mop or squeegee the area clean. It is only after the signs are placed and the area cleaned, that a safety officer photographs the area. This is done so the cruise line's attorneys can later argue to a jury that the area was free from water, and if there was any liquid in the area, there was a sign warning the passenger about the condition.

There are things injured passenger can do to help his or her own case. First, the passenger could have a travel companion take photographs of the area immediately after the incident. In most situations, the photographs taken immediately after the accident will be admitted into evidence and shown to the jury. Therefore, the jury will see the area as it existed at the time of the accident and not the sanitized version usually depicted in safety officers' photographs. Second, a travel companion could take down the names and contact information of eyewitnesses. These witnesses are invaluable to a slip and fall injury claim as the people could testify as to the condition of the deck at the time of the incident and perhaps even establish that the cruise line knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and did nothing. Photographs and witnesses could be the difference between winning or losing in court.

Bringing a lawsuit is an important decision. If you suffered a slip and fall injury aboard a cruise ship and would like to speak with a lawyer, please contact us toll free at (800) 499-0551 for a free consultation.

November 30, 2014

Rescue Mission Ends for Missing Princess Cruise Passenger

Sun Princess Cruise Ship.jpgAustralian authorities call off a search for an elderly man who fell off and went missing from the Princess cruise ship Sun Princess. CCTV footage retained by the cruise line shows an 84-year-old passenger falling of the liner into the water on the night of November 24th. Princess stated the cruise ship turned around to look for the missing passenger after the man could not be found on board. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority stated survival was very slim given the man's age and weather conditions. This is not the first time in recent memory that a passenger fell off the Sun Princess. In October last year another elderly man went missing from the deck of the ship while it was off the northern Australian coast.

November 16, 2014

Cruises Passenger Medical Malpractice Victims Receive New Rights

Cruise Medical Malractice.jpgIt is no secret that cruise lines are for-profit businesses. Companies such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, Celebrity, Disney and Princess constantly look for ways to add revenue and limit costs in order to increase their bottom lines. Some areas where cruise lines make money from their passengers are obvious. Casinos, bars, ticket sales for excursions are all well-known profit centers. One location aboard the ships where cruise lines make money that is less obvious to those who are not industry insiders are the ships' medical facilities.

Cruise lines dedicate space aboard their ships for medical facilities. They stock those facilities with drugs, bandages, x-ray machines and hire doctors to treat ill or injured passengers. Passengers who use these medical services are charged on their shipboard accounts and must pay those charges before leaving the ships. What is not known by many is that if the ship doctors are negligent in their care, cruise lines disavow liability. In essence, the cruise lines found a loophole in the law to make money but not be assessed with liability should their doctors commit medical malpractice. This loophole is found in the 1988 case of Barbetta v. S/S Bermuda Star decided by the Fifth Federal Circuit wherein it was determined that since cruise lines have no obligation to provide onboard doctors for their passengers they should not be liable for the negligence of those doctors.

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October 20, 2014

Cruise Ticket's Hidden Provisions Can Be Costly

Miami Cruise Ticket Provision.jpgCruising is wildly popular. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people cruise from the several ports that line the United States coast. Often times, people have a good time on their vacations without incident. However, sometimes, vacations can go horribly wrong. Our law firm receives multiple calls each week from passengers who unfortunately were injured or from family members whose loved one tragically died while cruising. From our conversations, we have found that nearly all passengers have little or know knowledge about the provisions found within their cruise ticket.

The cruise ticket is a contract between the passenger and the cruise line that sets forth the obligation of both parties. As such, it is VERY IMPORTANT to save and read your ticket if you think you may want to sue a cruise line for its wrongdoing. Cruise lines for years have hired very capable attorneys to insert contract provisions into the tickets designed to limit liability and your recovery. Three important provisions are the six month or 180 day written notice provision, the 1 year suit time provision and the federal court provision. Failure to comply with these terms can be very costly.

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August 27, 2014

Cruise Tender Injuries and the Law

Cruise Tender Injury Lawyer.jpgOur law firm is receiving an increasing number of inquires about cruise passengers injuries occurring on tenders. Generally, when a cruise liner is too large to dock at a pier, it requires tenders to shuttle passengers back and forth from the ship. With ships increasing in size each year, tendering is becoming more and more prevalent. There are two basic ways passengers are tendered. One option is to lower the cruise ship's life boats and use them as the tenders. The other option available to cruise lines is to contract with local tendering services which use small boats to shuttle the passengers.

The Cruise Line's Legal Responsibility to Passengers

A Cruise line has the non-delegable legal obligation to provide their passengers safe ingress and egress, under adequate supervision, to and from the ship. This legal duty remains the same no matter if the cruise line decides to use its own life boats or contract with local boat companies to provide tender services. As such, if a passenger is injured due to the unsafe operation of a tender, that passenger has a legal claim for negligence against the cruise line even though the tender was not operated by the cruise line. Given the legal duty to provide passengers safe ingress and egress to and from the ship, United States law precludes a cruise line from exculpating or limiting its liability for injures arising from negligent tendering.

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June 5, 2014

Slippery Decks on the Carnival Paradise

Carnival Paradise Slippery Deck.jpgOur law firm receives many calls from vacationers who were injured after slipping and falling aboard the Carnival Paradise. Currently home ported in Tampa, Florida, the Carnival Paradise is a 17-year-old cruise ship - a veritable dinosaur in this day-in-age where cruise lines pump out new ships each year. The exterior decks are mostly made of wood. It seems water tends to pool in certain areas after rain or washing causing the unsuspecting passenger to hydroplane when walking across the deck. This often times results in slip and fall injuries.

The two most common injuries we see from Carnival Paradise passengers are torn menisci and broken wrists. A meniscus is a piece of cartilage that protects and cushions the knee joint surface as well as the upper ends of the femur and tibia. This cartilage is torn when the knee is hyper or hypo extended which occurs with regularity when someone is falling down after their feet fly from underneath them. Fractured wrists many times occur when the passenger extends their arms to break their fall.

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June 1, 2014

Two Arrested for Raping Royal Caribbean Cruise Passenger

Galveston Cruise Rape.jpgJamaican news outlets are reporting two men were arrested for raping a fellow passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas. The rape is reportedly to have occurred approximately 50 miles outside Jamaican waters on Thursday morning (5/29) while the cruise ship was approaching Falmouth. The men (both Americans) were supposedly partying with the victim the night before. The Navigator of the Seas conducts weekly voyages to the western Caribbean from Galveston, Texas.

Rapes and sexual assaults unfortunately occur with regularity aboard cruise ships. Our law firm is routinely contacted by cruise rape and sexual assault victims. Our attorneys are currently representing a victim of sexual assault which occurred in a ladies room aboard the Carnival cruise ship Magic which also leaves from Galveston.

May 31, 2014

Boy Found on Bottom of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Pool Fights for Life

Royal Caribbean Drowning.jpgA six-year-old boy was discovered unconscious at the bottom of one of the Royal Caribbean owned cruise ship Independence of the Sea on May 27th. When the boy was found his heat had already stopped. The shipboard doctor (a non-Royal Caribbean employee) was able to restart his heart beating through CPR. The drowning victim was then airlifted by the French navy and is currently treating at a hospital in Brest. The incident happened while the cruise ship was passing northern France near the city of Breton. At the time of the incident the Independence of the Seas was on a six-night Western Europe voyage leaving from Southampton, England.

Pools are considered attractive nuisances for children and child drownings are becoming more and more common on cruise ships. The reason for these tragic events is there are no kiddy fences or life guards. Often times children just wonder in the pools and drown without anyone bring aware. This problem is known industry wide. However, only Disney Cruise Lines currently has life guards assigned to all ship pools and spas. It appears unconscionable for a billion dollar cruise line such as Royal Caribbean to not hire life guards to protect their passengers. Hopefully the bulk of the cruise lines will change their policies and spend the extra money to employ life guards to protect the children aboard their ships.

May 22, 2014

Miami Fire Rescue Evacuate Injured Passenger from the Majesty of the Seas

First responders from Miami's Fire Rescue evacuated an injured passenger from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Majesty of the Seas Monday evening. The cruise line's Director of Communications Cynthia Martine stated the passenger is a 32-year-old Swedish man who sustained a head injury. He was and was initially treated by the on board medical facility but required additional care. The ship stayed close to shore to facilitate the at-sea rescue before traveling to Key West. There is no word on the passenger's medical condition at this time. The Majesty of the Seas conducts regular voyages to Nassau and the Royal Caribbean private island Coco Cay.
WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

May 22, 2014

Passenger Medevaced from the Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

Bahamas Celebration Passenger.jpgThe Coast Guard reports a 56-year-old passenger was medically evacuated from the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship this week after experiencing severe pain. The passenger was transferred to St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach. His condition is currently unknown. The Bahamas Celebration conducts cruises from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to the Bahamas.

May 12, 2014

Two Vacationers Evacuated off the Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship

Coast Guard Rescue Cruise Passenger.jpgThe Coast Guard reports two passengers were evacuated from the Carnival Splendor cruise ship off the coast of North Carolina. It appears the two vacationers became extremely sick aboard the ship prompting the captain to request medical assistance. The Splendor, at the Coast Guard's request, deviated its course closer to shore so the passengers could be picked up by helicopter. Information about the passengers' medical condition is not currently available.

April 17, 2014

Coast Guard Targeting Potentially Hazardous Cruise Ships

Cruise Ship Hazards.jpgLast month the Coast Guard started surprise inspections of cruise ships it has flagged as potentially hazardous to passenger safety. The Coast Guard's reason for stepping up inspections of problem cruise ships is because the regular twice-a-year inspections of 140 cruise ships based at the various United States ports in 2013 found 351 deficiencies. The most frequently safety issues aboard these ships dealt with lifeboats and fire doors. Captain Eric Christensen, the officer in charge of oversees ship inspection policy, told the National Transportation Safety Board, "There was a population of cruise ships that had the lion's share of deficiency. You want to focus your efforts on those vessels." Specific ships or cruise lines, however, were not identified.

What does this mean to the hundreds of thousands of American cruise travelers? It appears the cruise ships based out of the United States will become safer in the sense that should a Costa Concordia type catastrophe take place, the life boats and watertight doors will likely work. However, the increased Coast Guard inspections will do nothing to protect passengers from the several shipboard hazards caused by the cruise lines' failure to properly maintain their ships. Most cruise passengers are injured due to the failure to maintain decking surfaces whether it is carpet, wood, marble or steel. These decks experience a significant amount of wear and tear due the large number of people walking on the ships each day causing slipping and tripping hazards. The Coast Guard inspectors do not pay much attention to deck surfaces and thus those hazards will remain.

April 11, 2014

Carnival Sunshine's Pool Deck Unreasonably Slippery?

Carnival Sunshine Slip Injury.jpgWe have received multiple calls from passengers who have slipped and fallen on the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship in recent months. The Sunshine was launched in 1995 under the name Destiny. The ship was in service since 1995 before being refitted, renamed and relaunched as the Sunshine in May 2013. It appears when the ship was being refitted, the coating placed on the Lido / Pool deck made the deck unreasonably slippery. The popular cruise forum "Cruise Critic" has a post reviewing the Sunshine under the title "Problem Ship". The entry states many people were observed slipping and falling when entering the pool deck. This is remarkable given the ship was relaunched less than a year ago. This law firm has handled a multitude of passenger slip and fall cases occurring on cruise ships and have learned the main causes of these accidents are improper selection of decking materials, improper application of coatings and lack of maintenance. As the Carnival Sunshine has recently been refitted, the likely reason for the slip and falls appear to be an improper decking material selection and/or improper application.

Once Carnival is made aware of an unreasonably slippery deck, it incumbent upon the cruise line to make the deck safe. If it doesn't rectify the unsafe condition, it may be held liable for any accidents resulting from people slipping. Given the high amount of slip and falls on the Lido / Pool deck, Carnival is obviously aware of the problem. It is perplexing why the largest cruise line in the world hasn't fixed the problem. The Sunshine is currently making weekly sailing from New Orleans to the Western Caribbean and Mexico. If you have slipped or have seen someone slip on the Carnival Sunshine, we ask that you please contact us so we could better represent our clients.

April 7, 2014

Royal Caribbean Passenger Flown to Miami Children's Hospital

Royal Caribbean Coco Cay Injury.jpgThe Coast Guard responded to an emergency concerning an infant passenger from the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas while the ship was calling on the private Bahamian island Coco Cay. It is reported the 10-month-old passenger was experiencing breathing difficulty Sunday prompting the rescue. The ship's medical personnel stabilized the infant before flying with the baby to Miami. The child arrived at Miami Children's Hospital Sunday night. The child's respiratory condition is unknown at the time of this report.

The Enchantment of the Seas is currently making weekly sailings from Cape Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean's age policy for the subject cruise is that a child must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the voyage.

April 3, 2014

Knee Injuries Caused by Slippery Cruise Ships

Slippery Cruise Ship Knee Injury Lawyer.jpgThis law firm received several calls a week from passengers who have injured their knees from slipping on a cruise ship. There is a very specific reason why this happens.

Cruises are supposed to be fun. Cruise lines spend millions upon millions of dollars outfitting their ships with attractions designed to entice people to vacation with them instead of other places. Unfortunately, accidents happen. Often times these accidents could be avoided if the cruise lines place a little more emphasis on safety than bringing more and more passengers to their ships.

Exterior decks are an area aboard cruise ships which are particularly dangerous. Each ship has a lido deck which features the main pool, hot tubs, bars, buffets and stages. These decks are made of smooth steel that is treated with chemical coatings which are supposed to provide traction. Given the high amount of people walking theses decks day in and day out, the protective coating breaks down leavening nothing but smooth steel. Once this coating breaks down, the slickness of the deck is akin to ice. The breakdown of the coating, however, does not happen uniformly. The areas which experience higher concentration of foot traffic and where the coating is thinly or misapplied break down faster. This proves very dangerous as a person can walk without problem, sometimes for long distances, then hit an slick patch causing him or her to fall without warning. It would be better if the whole deck was slippery because the passenger would know quite quickly that he or she is dealing with a slippery condition. Instead, the passenger is lead to believe the deck is reasonably safe until he or she hits the ground.

These types of slips and falls often times result in knee injuries as a knee usually hyper-extends during the fall. The most common type of injuries are meniscus or ligament tears. Sometimes these injuries are treated with pain medication and physical therapy. Other times, surgery is necessary. In the most severe cases, a knee replacement is required.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of sustaining a knee injury due to a slippery cruise ship deck and would like to know more about your legal options, feel free to call our Florida Board Certified Maritime Attorneys who will be more than happy to speak with you.