Cruise lines have created an experience that is becoming a major form of vacation for American families, but that also comes with significant risk for the unprepared U.S. consumer. Hundreds of passengers are injured on these colossal luxury liners every year. And it doesn’t help that unlimited alcoholic drinks tend to flow freely.
These consumers get injured in various ways– including rape, slipping, tripping, and falling, or being thrown overboard, never to be seen again by their surviving family and friends.
Important: When many of your fellow wounded travelers return from their trip, they wait too long to do anything and forgo their legal rights. The need for an injury attorney that specializes in cruise ship accidents remains vital to avoid “sleeping on your rights.”
While many cruise ships have charters in Florida, the lawsuit does not have to be filed in Florida federal court. Inexperienced attorneys with no experience in cases like this can easily blow the contractual time to file a claim.
Important: In fact, some cruise ships like Princess Cruises specifically require cases against them must become filed in Los Angeles, CA.
Important: Many lawyers think the two-year statute of limitations applies and sit on the file trying to negotiate a settlement. So these poor souls can miss the claims provisions of the carriage license. In other words, you lose the case, and the lawyer accidentally commits legal malpractice.
Many hazards confront passengers traveling on these ocean-going Greyhounds. Some tragedies at sea don’t happen on land, while others do.
Passengers can be wounded by:
Another danger that steamer ship crews and passengers risk is external. Ex: attacks by armed pirates on fast-boats. These robbers use assault rifles and even rocket launchers. Since 2003 pirates are an increasing problem for ocean liners and other commercial ventures near places like Somalia.)
And this has resulted in robberies of passengers and even deaths off the coast of Somalia. Tom Hanks made a motion picture about one such attack here:
This Maersk Alabama case is nothing compared to the loss of life and critical events that unfold on private floating hotels and their transport shore vessels at sea. These “floating palaces” have a responsibility to ensure the “duty of safe passage” to passengers.
Injured passengers have the right to:
Also, all vessels on the ocean are subject to inspections, and this includes cruise ships. Most cruise vessels are foreign registered. So they carry the other country’s flag. Of particular interest, this international registration means they are subject to review according to vessel inspection laws in the state of registration.
When these ships board passengers at U.S. ports, the U.S. Coast Guard requires the vessel to meet the standards of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). International regulations must be strictly followed. Typically, these rules are for crew and crewing competency, lifesaving equipment, firefighting, and fire protection.
Vessel integrity, ship control, stability, navigation safety, safety management, and environmental protection, are a part of the strictly regulated international regulations. U.S. passenger ships must have licensed individuals and crews. And they must also comply with U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Further, the USCG sets the standards for training and experience.
When a ship is departing from U.S. ports, they are considered common carriers, which means they must adhere to the Shipping Act of 1984, 46 U.S.C. § 1702 (6). This act determines that carriers owe passengers higher duty care in protection from physical harm. So the company remains responsible for ensuring passengers arrive safely at their destination. And this includes the passenger’s safety from assaults, rapes, evil crew members, and other types of criminal behavior.
Passengers who have sustained injuries, or have become the victim of a criminal act on-board a cruise ship; have the right to file a lawsuit to recover damages. Damages include medical costs, loss of income, pain, and suffering. The criminal activities taking place on land differ because here, the claim may be governed by the terms on the cruise ship ticket.
Cruise ship tickets contain a forum selection clause and a choice of law provision. And of course, it’s in the small print on the back of the card. This states where passengers must file their lawsuit against the cruise line. And it recites the applicable laws.
The cruise line will define that filing claims for injuries that occurred while on the cruise ship to be filed in Los Angeles, California, Seattle, Washington, or Miami, Florida. This situs will depend on where the cruise line is based.
Passengers filing a lawsuit against a cruise line, who object to it being heard in a court outside of their home state, can petition to have it moved to a local tribunal. But this challenge is usually denied.
The ticket outlines that the injured passenger must provide notice of the injury to the cruise line. But this must happen within a specified period. This period is usually six months from the date of the damage. This period is not the same statute of limitations for the filing of a traditional admiralty and maritime claim, which is three years.
The cruise ticket may detail that any lawsuits filed against the cruise line must be in Los Angeles, California, or Miami, Florida. In either state, the court may enforce the time limitation outlined in the ticket (passage contract). So courts usually deny claims filed later than this specified period.
The Jones Act protects ship employees. In other words, the A.C.T. applies to work seamen with shipboard personal injuries or death.
Under Jones, injured employees seamen become entitled to medical expenses. During convalesce and rehabilitation, living expenses are included.
Many foreign cruise line registrations are in other countries; as such, they fly the flag of that foreign country and abide by their laws. This registration means these laws could apply to incidences that occur on the cruise ship. When a cruise ship leaves a U.S. port, the laws of the state it departed from apply, as well as U.S. federal laws. International treaties may also apply to incidents that occur aboard ship.
One of these may be maritime jurisdiction under 18 U.S. Code Section 7. So when a criminal offense committed by or against a United States citizen happens outside the country, U.S. law still applies. And this same scheme uses foreign vessels connected with a U.S. departure and arrival port.
Unfortunately, the Jones Acts, passage contract, international law, and treaties restrict the rights of passengers, including where they can sue. As discussed, these are things you would typically take for granted.
Important: Some attorneys that attempt to sue in Miami will have the case rejected by the court clerk for improper jurisdiction and venue. By then it is too late to sue in California, where the case belonged.
Hiring a traditional PI lawyer could place your rights to sue in jeopardy as time passes. Our experienced attorneys will make no such mistakes. Our firm has successfully represented individuals from states like:
Many clients had severe issues on cruise ships, including sexual assault. Others had weight stacks fall on them in troubled seas in the ship’s gym, slipping and suffering severe head injuries.
Many of our clients will require:
Did You Know Most Risks Are Unknown to Passengers Till It’s Too Late?
Many voyagers who cruise for the first time have no idea of all of these potential risks. Some became injured on tourist shore excursions and falsely assumed that they had to sue the defendants in their home countries. But this is where the Ehline Law Firm excellence comes into play.
Our lead attorney, Michael P. Ehline, has been recognized as outstanding in his field. His accolades and awards include the “Cruise Ship Attorney of the Year” title. Michael has even lobbied the United States Congress to strengthen the “Passenger’s Bill of Rights.”
Michael Ehline is well known for his fighting on behalf of his clients and has even been featured on CNN. He works with Miami cruise ship attorneys for cases filed there. He has filed lawsuits in federal court and California state court and is a licensed, high profile attorney.
When you hire us, Ehline and his staff will stop at nothing to get you results. We will fight big, multinational corporations and their high paid attorneys. Ehline Law is the great equalizer for cruise victims. In fact, in every case that we filed, we have won a payout to our clients.
The Ehline Law Firm and its staff offer our experienced attorneys with specialization in cruise ship claims. Our firm is well versed in cases like this, including those against lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Canaveral, and others.
Yes, we do.
(B) Forum and Jurisdiction for Legal Action: (i) Claims for Injury, Illness or Death: All claims involving Emotional harm, bodily injury, illness to or death of any Passenger whatsoever arising out of or relating to this Passage Contract or Your Cruise shall be litigated before a court of competent jurisdiction located in the County of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., to the exclusion of the courts of any other country, state, city, municipality, county or locale. You consent to jurisdiction and waive any objection that may be available to any such action being brought in such courts. (Read more here.)
Many cruises are not always safe and fun. Some may depart from Florida and face severe issues before reaching California. These can not only ruin a vacation but result in severe physical and mental harm — and in some cases, death.
A wreck or severe accident can severely injure or kill passengers. There have also been horrifying cases of rape, murder, and man overboard disappearances.
There are also cases of infectious diseases breaking out on cruise ships. Victims can be left without legal recourse if they do not retain a skilled attorney to recover damages. Examples can include a Norovirus, Norwalk-like viruses, or guinea worms that can get caught in the Western Caribbean.
There are specific minimum responsibilities that cruise operators promise their patrons. The virus strains each of these. The minimum promise of general health and safety is the most prominent. Firstly, did the cruise operator follow the procedure to prevent the spread of disease?
The compensation is generally for medical expenses and pain and suffering. But cruise ship companies have been an exception for medical malpractice lawsuits. A recent decision by the Florida 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may change the way cruise ship lawsuits are decided.
The Florida 11th Court of Appeals ruled that the exemption for medical malpractice lawsuits was outdated involving cruise ships. The case involved an 82-year-old-year-old man, a New York resident that fell and stuck his head in Bermuda in 2011 while on a Royal Caribbean cruise. The nurse attending the man aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship told the man to rest.
The family of the man claims the nurse did not suggest the man have a diagnostic scan done. And it took hours before the ship’s doctor saw the man. During that period his condition became worse. The lawsuit states the man had internal bleeding in the skull by the time the doctor saw him and succumbed to the head injury.
The Royal Caribbean medical staff wore the same uniforms as other ship employees, and the medical staff was advertised as craft employees, and in promotional material, they were paid a tribute.
If the decision of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals is upheld, then it is possible for plaintiffs alleging malpractice occurred on cruise ships to have their cases heard in court in the state of Florida (Read more.) In a statement by a Royal Caribbean representative, it claims rules remain on the books.
They disagree with the new ruling by the Court of Appeals. This rule is based on the factor cruise lines offer vacations. A vacation is not primarily to provide health care for passengers so they argue.
Defense in medical malpractice lawsuits occurring aboard cruise ships has commonly been rendered not the best in rulings by courts. In other words, the medical care provided to passengers on a boat is different than the scope of attention to be paid on the land. Meaning, according to this type of ruling, passengers should not expect to receive the same standard of care onboard a luxury liner as they do from their private physicians.
While health care onboard cruise ships is a concern and the new ruling by the Court of Appeals could make a difference in how future cases are looked at by courts, another problem that has grown from this, is the incidence of missing passengers.
These are passengers and crew members that have fallen overboard ships, since as early as 2000.
According to CruiseJunkie.com, there have been:
People think of a cruise line as a significant way to escape. In many cases, it is not. Instead, there are multiple cases where cruise patrons are assaulted— or worse. Also, there are many cases of passengers getting sick from mediocre food.
Furthermore, in other cases, the vessel strands the passengers for hours if not days. If there is a report of a missing passenger, the cruise line company must carry out a reasonable rescue search and rescue efforts. So this means that the missing person is not aboard the ship, the vessel must go back and search.
Passengers have fallen overboard for a variety of reasons. And some rescues proved successful. And this remains true even after they were missing for hours. So if the cruise line fails to perform a reasonable search and rescue effort, they may be held liable. They can even be at fault for the disappearance of the passenger. In other words, they failed in performing their duty of care and filing.
But all of these landmines combine for a terrible experience for cruise ship passengers. Consumers have a chance to fight back and make their experience a better one. Doing so will also make things smoother for future riders.
The International Cruise Victims or ICV argues that the true statistics behind cruise injuries and other issues are covered up. There are several things that cruise passengers can do to stay safe.
Do Your Research. This step isn’t always perfect, but it’s a good start. See which lines have the best and worst reputation. So this is a good jumping-off point to see how your family will be treated onboard. Sometimes the Coast Guard has stats about the liners.
Stay Aware of Your Surroundings. Just because you’re on a beautiful ship doesn’t mean you’re automatically safe. Furthermore, many assaults on ships occur because the passenger lets their guard down. Understand where you are and what could happen to you. Scope out ways to escape if needed.
Life Jackets and Safety Drills. Make sure to prepare in case of an emergency. Know where your life jacket is at all times. Keep it near you. Be prepared in the event of a crash.
Keep Important Info Near. Also, this should go without saying. Keep your passport, travel agent info, and others close by. Don’t go too far without things you might need in case the ship faces issues.
Liability can be challenging to establish without the proper legal counsel. Furthermore, this can compound existing problems and necessitate a skilled attorney. We have assisted cases in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties and tourists from across the world.
Much of the case depends on the place where the injury or accident occurred. If this happened more than three miles off the California coastline, the maritime law applies. If it happened within the three-mile limit, then state law applies.
When a terrible mishap has occurred, make sure to contact a skilled attorney at the Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC immediately. Our specialization is necessary to take on a case like this that is so delicate and life-altering.
When a loved one is killed on a cruise ship, then the Death on the High Seas Act applies. This Act is separate from either maritime or state laws. This means your case is particularly complicated, and one for our specialized attorneys to take on.
Tragedy struck an innocent family after their eight-year-old daughter died on a cruise ship. But the tragedy is only one of the dozens that happen each year aboard luxury liners. And often, the growing issue of cruise line safety is addressed inappropriately at the state or federal level.
Fox40 reported on the situation with Miami-Dade police. There, a girl died on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship Carnival Glory. And the ship had docked at Port Miami. So the story goes, the girl fell from the ship’s interior atrium to the lower deck around 8:15 am. Next, first responders transported her to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she died. After, a spokesperson for the Fire-Rescue said the child fell about 20 feet.
Carnival apologized to the family. But this is not enough redress Authorities allowed the ship to resume normal operations. However, death deserves a closer look. Rescuers and investigators must thoroughly review the ship’s logs and activities. Most of all, the government must ensure that no future similar event occurs. Each life is precious. Furthermore, the cruise line did not live up to expectations.
So the family has many potential approaches. Furthermore, it is our responsibility to prevent a future such horror. Besides, Carnival and other liners should take safety more seriously. In the end, it is the least Carnival could do. But rest assured, our team is looking into the causes of the accident.
Our lead attorney, Michael Ehline, is a top fighter for families harmed by cruise line companies. He is an advocate and lobbyist in both Sacramento and DC for cruise line safety. He’s worked with legislators of both parties on necessary regulation to protect passengers. But no matter what, you can rest assured that we will be lobbying Congress to protect cruise ship passengers.
More About Time Limitations.
These catastrophes must be acted upon immediately as statutes of limitations could severely impact your case. When such an incident happens, you may be entitled to monetary compensation– but only if the matter is acted upon quickly.
There could be severe issues stemming from a cruise ship accident. These could include months of lost revenue from work, limitations on how you could work, or even the need for a long-term caretaker.
These all could severely impact your life. The Ehline Law Firm stands ready to make sure that the full circumstances are investigated and that you can rebuild yourself– mentally and physically.
The large corporations that own these ships are looking to pay you little or nothing. They can use the passenger tickets to limit the typical two or three-year statute of limitations and other rights. Also, they use a forum selection clause to make the port of departure the only legal venue to prosecute a claim.
This could make L.A..A. the only city for this to happen. If a passenger sues a shipping line in another location, the lawsuit can be dismissed. If this occurs and the one-year statute is already expired, then the victim would have no legal rights, except maybe an attorney malpractice claim against the inexperienced lawyer who blew the case.
Cruise ship accidents are often covered by “self-insurance.” But to bring a claim, passengers must jump through hoops. Hence, to get the maximum payout or defense for that matter, parties to a suit should always seek outside and even Cumis Counsel when necessary. If you or a loved one got hurt in such a manner, don’t delay. Call the Ehline Law Firm 24 hour hotline for a free, no-pressure consultation (213) 596-9642.
Disclaimer *Ehline Law Firm is in no way affiliated with the trade name Jacuzzi or Whirlpool. Also, we mainly help injured victims harmed by a defective Jacuzzi or Whirlpool related injury.
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