Cruising 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.
The recent case of Royal Caribbean v. Clarke is a prime example of what can go wrong when one fails to read and comply with the cruise ticket provisions. Royal Caribbean requires its passengers to file a lawsuit within 1 year of the accident in federal district court located in Miami Florida. Near the end of the 1 year filing period, the attorney for Ms. Clarke filed a lawsuit in Miami state court not federal court as required. The cruise line moved to dismiss the lawsuit and the appellate court found Royal Caribbean's clauses enforceable and dismissed the case.
Besides reading the ticket, injured cruise passengers may also be better served by hiring attorneys experienced with suing cruise lines. Such attorneys are familiar with the various ticket provisions and tend not to get tripped up on such procedural issues. The partners at Brais, Brais & Rusak's Miami office are both board certified by the Florida Bar in the area of admiralty and maritime law and have extensive experiences in cruise line litigation. If you have been injured on a cruise and have questions about your obligations under the ticket, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.