Articles Tagged with “Cruise Ship Passenger Injury”

Several people are injured and killed each year while participating in a cruise ship shore excursions and tours. Unfortunately, cruise lines painstakingly attempt to avoid responsibility by burying disclaimers on the back of excursion and cruise tickets. Despite these attempts, maritime law imposes certain responsibilities on cruise lines which they can’t disclaim.

Tourbus resized.jpgFran Golden recently posted a well written article on AOL Travel about the July 12, 2010 shooting of a 14 year old Carnival Cruise Lines passenger while traveling to a popular beach in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in an open air taxi. These unfortunate facts are eerily similar to a situation which occurred years earlier in the Bahamas where gunmen injured several and killed one passenger while traveling from a beach known to the police as being dangerous. The cruise line in that case argued it was not liable for the incident because of its ticket language disclaiming responsibility for the actions of others. The court rejected the cruise line’s argument and determined cruise lines have the obligation to protect their passenger while on shore by warning of dangers it knows or reasonably should have known in places where passengers are invited or may reasonably be expected to visit.

In addition to warning passengers of dangers, cruise lines are required to investigate and select competent and reasonably safe tour operators to run their shore excursions. It is common for a cruise line to point to their excursion ticket disclaimers in an attempt to avoid responsibility for injuries and deaths caused by incompetent tour operators. In a number of recent cases, however, courts refused to enforce these disclaimers finding that cruise lines cannot avoid liability for the negligent selection of incompetent tour excursion operators.

French Flag.jpgLast month we posted an article explaining that every major cruise lines’ boarding pass contains a provision requiring injured passengers to bring their lawsuits in a certain city. Under maritime law, cruises that originate from or terminate at a U.S. port must provide injured passengers someplace in the United States to bring a claim. This same right is not afforded to passengers sailing on cruises which exclusively touch foreign ports. This is true even though the particular cruise line’s corporate offices are in the United States.

The recent case of Seung v. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Inc. shows how restrictive cruises lines boarding passes can be. In that case, an elderly woman sailed aboard a Regent cruise and suffered an accident. Her lawyers brought suit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida — the location of Regent’s corporate offices. The boarding pass, however, required the filing of any personal injury claim in Paris, France. The passenger argued that requiring her to bring suit in Paris is unfair because she is financially unable to bring a lawsuit half way across the world; she is a California resident with medical limitations, due in part to her shipboard injury, that prevent her from traveling to Paris; and, Paris is a remote, alien forum chosen merely as a means of discouraging passengers from bringing legitimate claims. The court, while sympathetic to the passenger, held maritime law allows cruise lines to force their passengers to bring personal injury suits in foreign countries when the subject cruise did not call on a U.S. port.

Though cruise lines can require passengers traveling on foreign cruises to bring their personal injury claims in foreign cities, many still allow for claims to be filed in selected U.S. court. Below are the current forum selections of the major cruise lines for foreign cruises: