Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers in Florida

Common Types Of Cruise Ship Cases

Unfortunately, there are so many different ways in which a passenger could suffer an injury or even pass away when aboard a cruise ship. However, some of the following ways in which an injury can occur include:

  • Slip and Fall Accidents
  • Pool or recreational area accidents and drowning (scuba diving and snorkeling)
  • Medical staff negligence (Medical Malpractice)
  • Food poisoning
  • Norwalk virus (norovirus)
  • Legionnaires disease
  • Assault or battery by crew or passengers (Negligent security)
  • Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Wrongful death due to cruise negligence
  • Cruise line-approved excursion injuries / Shore Excursion Accident
  • Employee injuries (i.e.- Boiler room or engine room explosions)
  • Automatic Door Accidents
  • Tender Boat Accidents
  • Gangway Accidents
  • Passenger Ticket Contract
  • Passenger/Crew Falling Overboard and Disappearance

Claims And Compensation

When you have suffered a serious injury from a cruise ship, you may be entitled to significant compensation for a range of different damages. This compensation can include past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and much more.

Your Trusted South Florida Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

Our South Florida cruise ship accident attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman have the necessary knowledge and experience to represent you and your rights to compensation from injury on a boat or cruise ship.

More Information About Cruise Ship Injuries

Cruise ship accidents, injuries, and deaths can happen at any time during a cruise, including while boarding or disembarking the ship, going up or downstairs, or getting on or off a tour bus in a port or foreign city. Other common examples of cruise ship accidents can include the following:

Slips & Falls

Cruise lines make most of their money on alcohol sales and excursions. As soon as you board, the alcohol begins to flow. Bars seem to be around every corner and on almost every deck.

If you have the misfortune of being injured while you have been drinking, don’t just assume that it’s because you maybe had a few too many. The crew is mostly concerned with serving drinks around the bars and pool deck area. Generally, the crew does not stop serving the obviously intoxicated. Certainly, none of the crew is cleaning the deck regularly from spilled drinks and melting ice.

The cruise line has a responsibility to maintain its ships’ safety for its passengers. This includes keeping it safe for all passengers, including those the cruise line encourages to drink. Conversely, the crew has a responsibility to protect passengers from those that have had a little too much to drink.

Pool And Recreation Water Dangers

Faulty designs, hazardous surroundings, improperly posted warnings and water depths, and a lack of enforcement of the rules can all lead to injury at any pool. These issues are especially dangerous, though, on a cruise ship where conditions are crowded and vacationing passengers have let down their guards. Cruise ship crew members have a legal obligation to provide passengers with a satisfactory and safe experience at all times, but sometimes they just don’t succeed.

Getting jumped on by other passengers’ children who are entering the pool improperly, slipping and falling on wet surfaces, drowning, improper medical attention after an incident, and bumps and scrapes against sharp surfaces under the water are all injuries that you may encounter at a cruise ship’s pool. Unfortunately, the lack of lifeguards on some cruise ships means that finding the proper person to report an injury to can be difficult immediately after an incident, and complicated cruise ship law makes reporting negligence on the part of the crew or cruise line just as troublesome!

A lawyer experienced in handling maritime cases can help you figure out which type of claim you can file:

  • One based upon the negligence of the crew members or cruise line
  • One based on negligence upon the manufacturers of defective or unreasonably hazardous pool drains, wave pools, water slides, hot tubs, and pool equipment

An injury on vacation can be positively disastrous if it is serious enough to require hospitalization. Not does the need for hospitalization while on your cruise leave you stranded and frustrated far from home, but it also means that you’ll need to see doctors that you are completely unfamiliar with and entrust them with your most important asset-your health!

Falling Overboard

While not common, falling overboard can occur. Although such incidents are occasionally the passenger’s fault, more often than not, they are caused by negligence of the cruise line or its crew.

Examples of negligence on the crew’s part that could lead to a man overboard crisis include:

  • Over-serving alcohol to the passengers
  • Failing to meet industry safety standards (i.e. by having railings that are too short)
  • Failing to supply sufficient crew to monitor the ship’s surveillance cameras and deck

When a passenger falls overboard from a moving ship, rapid and skillful action is necessary for a successful rescue.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act requires that ships be equipped with rails no less than 42 inches above the deck and with alarms and other technology to help signal and locate passengers who go overboard. Unfortunately, if a cruise ship’s crew has been negligent enough to allow a passenger to fall overboard, it is unlikely that they will efficiently and safely handle the situation after it occurs. Worse still, cruise ships are required by law to investigate and report all accidents that occur on board, but they often fail to do so.

Food Poisoning

Even though cruise ship employees do their best to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all passengers, cramped quarters and the large-scale manner of serving of food that is typical to large ships make food poisoning a frequent unwanted guest in cruise ship galleys.

Common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain/cramps

While food poisoning certainly isn’t the most dangerous thing that you could encounter on a cruise, a nasty case of the illness can lead to a variety of complications including:

  • Severe dehydration
  • The need for hospitalization
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • Still birth, delayed development, or premature birth in pregnant women

In such cases, not only do passengers who have contracted the illness miss out on fun with their family and friends, but they also wind up with unwanted medical bills.

Unfortunately, filing a claim against a cruise line for food poisoning can be a rather tricky business. Not only do some lines carry very specific rules about the manner in which you may file a claim against them, but shorter statutes of limitations may also apply to this type of case. Furthermore, in order for your case to succeed, a lot of legwork must be conducted before filing.

Even though you are not at fault for your illness, you still carry the burden of providing not only definitive proof that the cruise line or its staff members were negligent, but also that negligence was the direct cause of your illness. Finding strong enough evidence to support your case can be difficult, but it’s necessary to ensure the success of your claim.

This evidence may include:

  • Whether the cruise ship deviated from its original itinerary before or after an outbreak of illness
  • Whether the ship’s crew makes any health announcements
  • A doctor’s opinion
  • Documentation of how many other people on board fell ill, and what their symptoms were
  • Evidence of unsanitary kitchen conditions or improper food handling by the crew

This information is not always easy to track down after a trip is over and the passengers have dispersed.

Fighting back against a cruise line can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone. The right cruise ship lawyer can help you to gather strong evidence to support your case, which could lead to a refund of your ticket, monetary compensation, and safer conditions for cruise passengers in the future.

Off-ship Excursion Dangers

Excursions can be a safe and fun way to spend time at ports of call. While out and about, you should take the usual precautions about not leaving your things unattended. Try not to flash signs of wealth and always remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t go out on the streets late at night, and traveling alone is never a good idea. Some countries and ports have high crime rates for robbery, kidnapping, rape, and murder. Research the port or region you are going to before you go.

Cruise lines are responsible for providing safe passage and activities for passengers. They generally have you sign a waiver of liability to participate in these activities (sightseeing tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet ski, parasailing, etc). However, if you or a loved one is injured during one of these activities, you should still contact an attorney. Many times the waivers of liability will not bar a claim if handled by an experienced lawyer.

Medical Malpractice

Most cruise ship medical care is limited and their facilities are often inadequate. Before you book your cruise, check with the cruise line to ensure they have high standards for their on-board medical personnel. Ask if their doctors are properly licensed. Check with your physician before sailing and have an ample supply of prescription medications available (keep all medications on you) and a copy of your medical history. Also check to see if your medical insurance is current and what it will and will not cover.

What most passengers do not know is that cruise lines are not legally responsible when their ship’s doctors commit malpractice. Cruise ship doctors are considered independent contractors, and therefore, the cruise line is not liable.

Assault And Battery

A family vacation is the last place that you’d expect to wind up in a fistfight, but cruises don’t always go according to plan.

While there is no great excuse for an assault, cramped conditions, intoxication, and plain agitation aboard a cruise ship can swiftly lead to an argument between passengers or crew members-and an argument can quickly lead to injury on a cruise ship.

Depending on the severity of your injuries, an assault and battery can lead to more than just a black eye. Physical violence aboard a cruise ship can lead to:

  • Broken bones
  • Contusions
  • Internal bleeding
  • Concussions
  • Broken or missing teeth
  • Emotional trauma
  • Legal expenses

An assault and battery does more than just disrupt your trip. It’s possible that such a conflict could lead to missed time from work and unwanted medical bills as well.

Examples Of Previous Cruise Ship Cases

Each year thousands of passengers are injured on cruise ships. Many believe cruise ship injuries and cruise ship deaths are under-reported, and until recently, cruise lines were not required to report incidents in a timely, meaningful way. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which requires cruise lines to report all deaths, missing persons, theft, sexual harassment, and assaults. Some recent examples of cruise ship injuries and accidents include:

  • Carnival Corp’s Costa Concordia ran into a reef (rocks) off the coast of the Italian Island of Giglio, began taking on water due to a 165-foot gash on the port side of Concordia’s hull, and eventually capsized. At least 24 passengers died in the accident, countless others were injured, and seven passengers are still missing. The cause of the deadly ship grounding? Human error. The Captain (Francesco Schettino) deviated from the safe course and made decisions during the emergency that did not follow company procedures. He is currently under house arrest and faces charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all the passengers were rescued.
  • Two brothers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas have been accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl from Iowa on their last day of a holiday cruise.
  • More than 100 people on board a cruise ship Carnival Corp’s Ruby Princess contracted the Norovirus, a contagious gastrointestinal illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea for one to three days. Also recently affected by the Norovirus are Carnival Corps’ Crown Princess and Royal Caribbean’s Voyager.
  • A Massachusetts woman on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas slipped down the stairs, hit her head, and died.
  • A South Carolina man aboard Carnival Corps’ Carnival Fantasy fell from one of the upper levels of the ship’s atrium to the lobby level and died.

While the cruise line and cruise ship industry have a duty of care to guard against accidents and injury, that is not always how it plays out. Were you or a family member injured on a cruise ship and would like to know more about your rights? Contact Zimmerman & Frachtman today.

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