A decision has been made recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 11th Circuit, which has ruled that cruise ships be held liable of any negligence and malpractice of its on board health care providers. In the past, ships have been granted immunity in regards to liability under maritime law, but things have shifted after a case involving an elderly man falling and injuring his head while on a cruise. It was reported that the health care providers on the ship were so negligent that it ultimately resulted in the man’s death, which caused the suit to be filed.
Although ships in the past have had immunity, which has led to carelessness due to a lack of responsibility, this case has reversed this legal situation. Typically cruise ships will hire outside medical staff to deal with injuries and situations on board their ships, but in this case the members of their health care department were actually members of the cruise line. The court held that the cruise line should therefore be held liable for the negligence that they inflicted upon the man. Furthermore, even if the members of the medical staff were not in fact members of the actual cruise line, they should still be held liable due to the fact that they were dressed as members of the cruise line staff and appeared to be a part of the cruise line. Despite not deciding whether the crew on the cruise line handled the situation with negligence, the court came to the conclusion that they can be held liable for how the cruise line staff handled the situation. By making this decision, the courts decided not to go with the Barbetta rule.
Few people know that when you step on a cruise ship you don’t have the medical expertise that would be expected, but this court decision has made a big impact. Due to this court ruling, it will be much easier to be treated justly and fairly while aboard a cruise ship and to have the ability to hold a cruise line accountable if they are operating with malpractice and negligence. At the Zimmerman & Frachtman law firm, we take injuries very seriously. If you have been injured aboard a cruise ship and believe it may be from negligence or malpractice, do not hesitate to contact us so we can fight to win your case.