Cruise Ship Accidents
Embarking on a cruise ship vacation is a cause for celebration and a promise of much needed relief and recuperation from your busy life. There are many cruise ships that leave out of downtown Seattle and a port near Magnolia. Holland America is a common cruise line that leaves from Seattle, but there are other cruise ship companies as well.
Unfortunately, accidents can happen on cruise ships. While disastrous calamities, such as was the fate of The Titanic, are extremely rare, a whole host of opportunities for injurious incidents exists on cruise ships—not only because you are in an unfamiliar environment, but also because you are on a gigantic ship floating in an infinitely larger body of whirling water, the ocean.Cruise Ship Laws
If you have been injured on a cruise ship and are thinking about filing a personal injury claim, the first thing you should know is that cruise ship companies are very specific about where you need to file your claim. The cruise ship contract that you sign when you purchase your ticket contains a section called ‘the forum selection clause’ that states where your claim must be filed.Where and When to File Your Claim
The situation is complex because, as a Washington State resident, you might book your cruise through a company in California, then board the cruise ship in Miami, but subsequently experience an injury while travelling through international waters near Cancun, Mexico. Nonetheless the cruise ship company reserves the right to explicitly specify where your personal injury claim must be filed—which more often than not is in a federal court located in Miami, Florida.
Timeliness of your claim is also important as many cruise ship contracts contain specific provisions stating that an injured passenger must notify the company of their intent to sue for personal injuries within a set amount of time, such as six months. The statute of limitations for cruise ship personal injury cases is also relatively short, often times only up to one year from the date of the incident.
These complex factors add up to the importance of contacting a qualified cruise ship personal injury lawyer who can help you file your claim.
Now that we’ve clarified the tricky business of where and when you must file your claim, let’s look at what kinds of personal injury accidents are prevalent on cruise ships and under what conditions the cruise ship company could be held responsible for your damages.Common Cruise Ship Injuries
The following is a list of frequent accidents experienced on cruise ships:
- Slipping on the deck
- Tripping over a threshold
- Falling down a staircase
- Falling overboard
- Swimming pool or waterslide injuries
- Injuries sustained on shore excursions
- Physical or sexual assault by cruise ship staff or another passenger
- Falling objects
- Accidents caused by excessive drinking at cruise ship bar
If you have sustained an injury due to any of these accidents, you may be eligible to file a personal injury suit. As in most personal injury cases, the key, decisive factor involves determining negligence for the injury. Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care, which results in an accident and/or injury. A cruise ship staff, or even the company itself, can be considered to have been negligent if they fail to act or behave in a way that reasonably ensures your safety and well-being as a passenger on the cruise ship expedition.Slipping on the Deck
Slipping on a cruise deck can be caused by spilled drinks, weather or other circumstances. Whatever the cause, cruise ship staff are responsible for cleaning up the mess—if they don’t and you slip and injure yourself, they may be considered negligent. However, proving that the cruise ship was liable for your injuries due to slipping on a wet floor requires investigation and compiling evidence to make a solid claim.Tripping Over a Threshold
Most cruise ships have thresholds located in their doorways which are required by international shipping laws so as to maintain a watertight ship. Because thresholds are hazardous, failure to notify passengers of their placement can be considered to be negligence. Cruise ships must adhere highly visible signs, typically at eye-level on the door or wall, that warn passengers of thresholds. If you sustained an injury due to tripping over a threshold for which there was no warning, you may have a good personal injury case.Falling Down a Staircase
Falling down a staircase, and sometimes falling overboard, can be caused by defective handrails. According to the Cruise Safety Act of 2010, all cruise ships must have handrails that extend, at a minimum, 42 inches above the deck. Handrails that do not meet these specifications may be considered defective. Subsequently, cruise ship companies may be found to be negligent in injuries caused by such handrails.
Falling down a staircase can also be caused by slippery steps, nefarious objects on the steps, poorly designed steps, and steps that are improperly sized (height is too little or too much.Negligence & Liability
All injuries resulting from accidents on cruise ships must be proven to have been the fault of the cruise ship or one of its staff in order for your claim to succeed. It is essential to prove that the cruise ship or staff were negligent, and thus liable for your injuries, so that you can file a successful personal injury suit and be awarded compensation for your damages.How The Jackman Law Firm can Help
Due to the complex nature of cruise ship personal injury claims, it is highly advisable to consult an experienced attorney who can assist you with your claim. The Jackman Law Firm has the experience, knowledge, and resources to make your case as strong as possible against the cruise line. The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover the following:
- Money for lost wages
- Money for pain and suffering
- Money for medical bills
- Money for out of pocket expenses
- Money for your spouse, if applicable
These damages must be proven, but The Jackman Law Firm can help you prove them and show the cruise ship, and their insurance carrier, that you have a serious, life-altering injury because of their negligence. The Jackman Law Firm has been in a position many times to properly negotiate a fair settlement for your case and help you achieve the kind of justice that you deserve. Feel free to call for a free consultation to discuss your case.