One of the first questions our maritime injury lawyers ask potential clients is whether they provided the cruise line written notice of their accident. Nearly every cruise line requires passengers to give written notice of their claim within a certain time as a condition to bring a personal injury lawsuit. The deadline to provide notice differs between cruise lines. Some require notice be given within 6 months of the accident while others require notice be given within 185 days of the accident. If you were injured during a cruise, it is crucial that you check your boarding pass to find out what procedure the cruise line requires you to follow in order to bring a lawsuit.
Though the boarding pass requires written notice of a claim in order to maintain a lawsuit, a Miami federal court recently allowed an injured passenger to pursue a personal injury lawsuit despite failing to provide proper notice. In that case the passenger fell due to an improperly position carpet aboard a NCL cruise ship. Though she reported the accident to the ship’s medical personnel, she never provided the cruise line with written notice as defined by the boarding pass. The cruise line attempted to dismiss the case for the passenger’s failure to provide notice. The court, however, found that although the passenger did not provide written notice, the case should not be dismissed. The court reasoned the purpose of the written notice requirement is to make the cruise line aware of a potential personal injury lawsuit so it could conduct an investigation and preserve evidence for the litigation. In that case, the plaintiff established NCL had actual knowledge of the accident, it immediately conducted an investigation and attempted to gather evidence. As such, the court concluded NCL was not prejudiced by the passenger’s failure to provide written notice and allowed the case to continue.
If you want to read additional information about the pitfalls contained within cruise line boarding passes, please read our following articles.