Suffering an injury in a place you are familiar with is confusing and stressful enough for the average person. When you sustain an injury on a cruise ship, in a foreign country or out on the open water, you may not know where to turn for assistance. Understanding the basic legal remedies and rights of cruise ship passengers can help you learn your own options if you’ve suffered an injury on a cruise. Always consult with an attorney for professional advice concerning your case.
About Maritime Law
Injuries and accidents on common carriers such as cruise ships go through a much different process than injury claims on land. Land injuries go through tort law, while cruise ship injuries abide by maritime law. Maritime law is a distinct legal area that governs injuries and offenses concerning maritime activities, or those involving ships. Maritime law stipulates that a common carrier must use the highest degree of care during passenger transport. Common carriers are individuals or companies that transport people (or goods) on regular routes at set rates.
Since most cruise ships have registrations in countries such as the Bahamas or Panama instead of the United States, maritime law rules. Maritime law holds carriers liable for cruise ship accidents and injuries if the plaintiff can show that the ship’s operator knew or reasonably should have known about an unsafe condition, like land negligence cases. The defendant must have failed to exercise due care in some way to face liability for a cruise ship injury. The courts will also hold the operator of the ship liable for the negligent actions of crewmembers or ship employees in cruise ship injury cases.
Cruise Ship Tickets and Ship Operator Liability
On the back or bottom of your cruise ship ticket, you’ll find a legal contract. Most of what you need to know regarding your ship operator’s liability is on this contract. Your purchase of the ticket is your way of agreeing to the terms and policies outlined in the contract. The back of the ticket will list where you may file a lawsuit for a cruise ship injury – typically the state where the cruise line has its headquarters.
While it may be inconvenient for you to have to file your lawsuit in a state other than where you live, most courts uphold this clause. The contract will also state the time limits for filing, which may be different than the statute of limitations for personal injuries in your filing state. Take your cruise ship ticket to an attorney to learn more about the individual contract to which you consented. It’s always a wise idea to read the back of your cruise ship ticket and understand ship operator liabilities before boarding.
When Can You Sue for Cruise Ship Injuries?
If you suffered an injury or illness on a cruise ship, you may not know your rights as far as whether you may sue the cruise line, ship operator, or third party. Like land injuries, maritime injuries must take certain forms for the courts to consider them the results of negligence. Cruise ship injuries that may constitute personal injury cases include:
- Slips and falls due to dangerous premises
- Elevator and escalator injuries
- Illness due to unsanitary conditions or food poisoning
- Injury from a negligent tour guide in a foreign country
- Port-related accidents
- Assaults or attacks on board the ship
- Pool/waterslide related injuries
- Theft and negligent security
- Medical negligence
- Wrongful death
There are many types of cruise ship injuries and personal losses that may give you grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Contact a personal injury attorney near you to find out more about your case, cruise ship ticket contract, and rights by law.