Recently in Cruise Ship Passenger Injury Law Category

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.

March 26, 2014

Injured Man Medevaced off NCL's Norwegian Gem

A man was medevaced off the 965-foot cruise ship Norwegian Gem yesterday. The ship's master radioed the Coast Guard reporting 35-year-old Brent Killian was in medical distress and in need of assistance. A MH-60 rescue helicopter was dispatched and met the cruise ship approximately 180 miles east of Nags Head, North Carolina. The rescues team transported Killian to Coast Guard Air Station located at Elizabeth City wherein he was then taken by ambulance to Albermarle Hospital. Killian's condition is currently unknown. The Norwegian Gem is operated by the Miami based cruise line NCL. The 2384 passenger cruise ship is currently making weekly sailing to the Bahamas from New York. Below is actual Coast Guard footage of the rescue at sea.

March 25, 2014

Protecting the Rights of Cruise Rape Victims

Cruise Rape Attorney.jpgRape and other types of sexual assaults occur on cruise ships with regularity. These horrific events are often times not told to passengers. Cruise lines have a financial interest in not sharing the facts about crimes that occur on their watch involving their employees against people who pay them to vacation on their cruise ships. In fact, the cruise industry spends millions upon millions of dollars in advertising for the purpose of portraying cruises as a safe family vacation option. The lack of warning of the real dangers associated with cruising combined with the portrayal of safety gives regular people the false sense of security while cruising. This often leads to passengers letting their guard down which in turn leads to victimization.

Brais, Brais & Rusak has an established history of protecting women who were raped while on vacation. In a case handled by the firm against Norwegian Cruise Line, our lawyers argued the cruise line had a duty to warn its passengers about prior sexual assaults that occurred on its cruise ship so guests could be aware of the potentially dangerous atmosphere aboard the ship. As part of that litigation a Miami federal judge ordered the cruise line to disclose the number of reported sexual assaults on its ships within a period of 15 months prior to the subject rape. The information revealed was shocking as there were 23 prior instances of sexual assaults in little over a year! From this rather high number of sexual assaults occurring on NCL cruise ships during the months leading to our client's rape, the court concluded there was sufficient evidence to establish it was foreseeable to the cruise line that other passengers would be raped thus triggering the requirement of warning vacationers of the potential danger.

Recently we were contacted by a passenger from South Carolina in need of assistance. This young woman was raped in a restroom by a male crewmember aboard the Bahamas Celebration on the way back to Florida from the Bahamas. This cruise ship is operated Celebration Cruise Lines headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It appears that Celebration is intending to mount a vigorous defense as less than 24 hours after giving notice of Brais, Brais & Rusak's retention by the victim, we were notified a law firm was hired to represent the cruise line. Our firm is used to such tactics by cruise lines. In an effort to help represent our client, if you were on the Bahamas Celebration between March 8 - 10, 2014 and have information about a passenger being assaulted by a crewmember, please contact our firm toll free at (800) 499-0551.

March 20, 2014

Carnival Splendor Cruise Passenger Medevaced En Route to the Bahamas

Coast Guard Rescue Cruise Passenger.jpgThe Coast Guard rescued a 66-year-old passenger aboard the Carnival cruise ship Splendor early yesterday morning. The cruise ship radioed the Coast Guard at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday that a male passenger was in medical distress. A MH-60 Jayhawak helicopter crew met Splendor at 1:30 a.m. the next mornign while the ship was near the North Carolina coast. It is unknown if the passenger suffered an accident aboard the cruise ship. The Splendor is currently making weekly voyages from New York to the Bahamas.

March 7, 2014

Passenger with Collapsed Lung Taken Off Disney Fantasy

Disney Cruise Collapsed Lung.jpgIt is being widely reported that a 21-year-old passenger was medically evacuated from the Disney Fantasy last Thursday after complaining of chest pains. It has been learned that the man had completed two scuba dives the day before. X-rays preformed aboard the cruise ship showed one of his lungs was 40% collapsed. Based upon this medical finding, the Coast Guard was notified and a helicopter crew was dispatched to take the ill passenger off the ship. The passenger was taken to Mariner's Hospital in Tavanier.

February 13, 2014

Cruise Ships and Norovirus

Cruise Norovirus.jpgThere has been much in the news lately about Norovirus outbreaks aboard cruise ships. The most noteworthy is the outbreak that occurred on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas where nearly 700 people were stricken by Norovirus. Princess Cruise Lines and NCL also had Norovirus outbreaks aboard their ships already this year. A casual observer may ask, why Norovirus and cruise ships go hand-in-hand? The answer is simple. Gastrointestional viruses are highly contagious. Cruise ships are floating cities where thousands of people touch common objects such as handrails, elevator buttons, door handles and the like. Infected people leave the virus on those surfaces and non-infected passengers touch the infected surfaces and the virus passes. Another reason why Norovirus flourishes on cruise ships is by the way cruise lines utilize their staff. A person who had a case of Norovirus can transmit the bug to others for two weeks or more after the symptoms subside. As a cruise injury attorney, I have read thousands of crew medical files. From my experience, cruise lines have an interest to keep their staff working and to return them back to duty as soon as possible so they could crew these massive floating hotels. The statistics from the CDC always report many more passengers as being infected than crewmembers. In the case of the Explorer of the Seas outbreak 634 (20.6%) passengers reported having the virus was only 55 (4.7%) crewmember reported symptoms. NCL's Norwegian Star outbreak is similar. In that case, ill passengers totaled 130 (5.61%) as opposed to 12 (1.15%) crewmembers. Likewise, Princess Cruise Lines' Caribbean Princess outbreak had 181 (5.8%) reported ill whereas the crew total was only 11 (0.96%). This means the cruise lines are most likely sending crewmembers back to work even though they still carry and could transmit the virus to others. These same crewmembers that have been found "fit for duty" by the ship doctors are making the passengers' beds, cooking and serving food for the buffets as well as making the drinks at the ship's bars. In other words, the cruise lines could be playing a large role in causing these outbreaks. Given cruise lines are money driven and the only way they make money is constantly operating their ship sick crew and all, I do not think we have heard the last of Norovirus outbreak on cruise ships.

February 6, 2014

Injured Cruise Passenger with Fractured Hip taken off the Carnival Splendor

Injured Passenger Carnival Splendor.jpgThe Coast Guard reports it has airlifted an injured cruise passenger who fell and broke her hip aboard the Carnival Splendor today. The 3,006 passenger cruise ship was off the New Jersey coast when the Coast Guard received the call that an at-sea rescue was necessary. A helicopter crew from Air Station Atlantic City hoisted the 84-year-old Canadian woman and transferred her to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center for further treatment. The injured passenger's condition is unknown at this time. The Carnival Splendor is currently making weekly voyages to the Bahamas from New York. This instance marks the second time this week the Coast Guard had to medevac an injured passenger from a Carnival cruise ship. On Wednesday the a passenger experiencing extreme abdominal pain was airlifed off the Carnival Fascination.

February 6, 2014

Holland American Cruise Passenger Dies after Accidental Fall

Holland American Trip Injury Lawyer.jpgA Hawaiian medical examiner ruled the death of a passenger who fell aboard a Holland American cruise ship an accident. James Harte of Salt Lake City, Utah died last week at hospital in Oahu, Hawaii four days after falling aboard the Veendam cruise ship. The autopsy revealed the fall caused a cranial cerebral injury which resulted in the passenger's death. No foul play is suspected. It is unknown at this time what caused the man to fall or the area of the cruise ship the accident took place. The Veendam is currently making Panama Canal crossings between San Diego, California and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

February 6, 2014

Injured Cruise Passenger taken off Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy Passenger Injury.jpgCarnival Cruise Lines confirms an injured cruise passenger was medically evacuated off the Carnival Fantasy yesterday. The 855-foot cruise ship was returning to Charleston, South Carolina on its last leg of a five-day Bahamian cruise when the call for help went out. A helicopter crew from Air Station Miami met the Fantasy off the Florida coast and airlifted the man and a ship's nurse to Cape Canaveral Hospital. Though the exact injury is unknown, a Coast Guard press release states the 27-year-old passenger was having severe abdominal pain.

February 4, 2014

Child Drowns in NCL Cruise Ship's Pool

Child Drown in Norwegian Breakaway Pool.JPGSad news is coming out that a 4-year-old child drowned aboard the Norwegian Breakaway a cruise ship opened by the Miami, Florida based cruise line NCL. Crew members were able to revive a 6-year-old boy also found in the pool. Both boys were found in the ship's adult pool Monday morning. Most will remember last year a child died aboard a Carnival cruise ship. Our law firm handles all sorts of pool and hot tub related injury and death cases and we often find that such accidents can easily be prevented. In other words, there is NO EXCUSE why a child must die in a swimming pool.

Many vacation resorts install child barricades and hire life guards to minimize the likelihood of injuries and drowning deaths. Florida law requires resort pools to be surrounded by a fence that is at least 48 inches in height with self-closing and self-latching gates. The latches to these gates must be at a minimum 54 inches from the bottom of the gate. These safety measures are designed so that unattended children do not wander into pools and drown. In pools that have sloping transitions, such as cruise ship pools, floating safety lines must be mounted two feet before the dropoff towards the shallow end. This safety feature is designed to mark the deep end and give children something to hold onto if they find themselves in water over their heads. These precautions are relatively inexpensive for the average company and downright cheap for the multi-billion dollar cruise industry. This begs the question why such precautions are not taken on cruise ships?

Child Pool Fence.jpgAt this time, the only major cruise line who employees lifeguards is Disney Cruise Lines (Magical Cruises). Disney's decision to start using lifeguards was in reaction to a small child who almost drowned aboard its Fantasy cruise ship. If the cruise industry took the minimum precautions as other land-based resorts, child drowning would most differently be rare if not eliminated. One would think an industry that depends upon families vacationing on their ships would put in place basic pool safety precautions to protect the very same families who supports their business.

February 4, 2014

Cruise Slip and Falls and Shoulder Injuries

Cruise Slip and Fall Shoulder Injury Lawyer.jpgOur attorneys have represented many clients who sustained shoulder injuries after slipping and falling aboard cruise ships. The most common shoulder injury is a torn rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that join the shoulder muscle to the skeletal frame which stabilizes the joint and are responsible for upper arm and shoulder movement.

Rotator cuffs are often torn on cruise ships when the passenger is holding onto a handrail and slips on a slick deck or stairway. The mechanics of falling backward and twisting the shoulder many times causes the tendons making up the rotator cuff to tear and/or separate from the bone. If left untreated, a person may permanently lose the ability to fully rotate their arm. Treatment of rotator cuff injuries often begin with anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. If the problem persists, surgery is normally scheduled. Depending upon the injury's severity, the orthopedic surgeon may opt to repair the torn ligament(s) with an arthroscopic procedure. This type of surgery involves the insertions of a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen which helps the surgeon guide miniature surgical instruments used to repair the tendons. An arthroscopic procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis. If the tear is large or complex, the surgeon may have to cut through the muscle and repair or reattach the ligaments in what is called an open procedure.

Rotator Cuff Tear from Crusie Accident.jpgSlip and falls are common on cruise ships. Being that cruise ships see hundreds of thousands of people a year, the anti-slip/skid properties of the deck and stairway coatings break down. The breakdown of the decks protective coating when combined with liquid cause people to slip and fall. The slipperiness of decks is measured by their coefficient of friction value. The coefficient of friction is ratio of the force that maintains contact between an object and a surface and the frictional force that resists the motion of the object. The lower of coefficient of friction value, the more slippery the surface. An expert engineer in recent case handled by our attorneys tested a cruise ship's deck when our client fell. The expert found the area of the deck had a coefficient of friction value of 2.0 - the same as ice!!!

If you suffered a shoulder injury due to a slip and fall on a cruise ship lido deck and want to know more about your legal rights, feel free to contact our Florida Board Certified Maritime Attorneys for a free consultation.

February 2, 2014

More Problems for the Carnival Triumph

Carnival Triumph.jpgCarnival Cruises problems with their Triumph cruise ship still are not over. Late last week the Triumph lost power while the ship was returning to its home port of Galveston, Texas after leaving from from Cozumel, Mexico. No injuries have been reported from the power loss. The 896 foot liner was built at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and launched in 1999. Most will remember the Triumph had a catastrophic power failure last year leaving the vessel adrift in the Gulf of Mexico until it was towed back to port.