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Determining Liability for Injuries Sustained on Your Summer Cruise

According to the Cruise Lines International Association, 62 percent of individuals who go on a U.S. cruise depart from one of Florida’s ports, with Port Miami and Port Canaveral catering to a majority of vacationers, and Fort Lauderdale coming in a close third. In 2015 alone, 6.24 million passengers came and went through one of those three ports. Those numbers do not take into account the number of passengers that come and go through Florida’s smaller ports, such as the Port of Palm Beach. It goes without saying then that the cruise industry is a huge industry in Florida, and as such, Floridians take proactive measures to protect it and keep it booming.

Unfortunately, in recent years, cruises have been getting a bad rap. From the Somalian pirates that fired at the Seaborn Spirits in 2005, to the reef that ran aground the Costa Concordia in 2012 – and from the 70-foot wave that flooded 62 cabins on the Norwegian Dawn in 2005, to the fires that sent both the Carnival Triumph and the Carnival Splendor adrift at sea for days in 2013 and 2011 – cruise ship incidences are deterring individuals from booking their vacations at sea.

While there is nothing that our Fort Lauderdale personal injury law firm can do to prevent cruise line mishaps, we can at least help you protect your rights in the event that you were injured in a cruise ship incident, accident, or disaster during your vacation at sea.

Types of Cruise Ship Accidents

Cruise ship incidents can be as minor as a mechanical issue such as power loss, or as eventful and traumatizing as a collision, grounding, capsizing, or sinking. In order to understand who is at fault for the incident and whether or not you have a personal injury case on your hands, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers need to first understand the type of cruise ship incident in which you were involved. According to Cruise Minus, cruise ship accidents are typically classified as one of the following:

  • Disasters: Sinking, grounding, capsizing, collision, terrorist and pirate attacks, pollution, and killings on land during tourist excursions;
  • Mechanical: Fire, propulsion issues, and power loss;
  • Illness/Outbreaks;
  • Deaths: Man overboard, jumps, missing passengers and crew members, drowning in ship pools, murder, suicide, and heart attacks;
  • Injuries: Rape, assault, battery, and accidental slips and falls;
  • Crimes: Bomb threats, robbery, drug smuggling and/or possession, theft, indecent exposure, and belligerent behavior; and
  • Weather-Related Incidents: Heavy fogs, storms, hurricanes, etc.

Your Cruise Ship Ticket is a Legally Binding Contract

If you and/or your loved ones were involved in a cruise ship incident recently, and if you sustained injuries because of that incident, you may qualify for a personal injury claim. However, before you file a claim, it is important that you understand the fine print on your ticket, and what exactly you consented to upon its purchase.

In most cases, the cruise line will state exactly what they are and are not liable for on the back of the ticket. When you purchase the ticket, you may be asked to sign a series of waivers and documents that state – in much more detail – exactly what the cruise line is liable for, and what you – as the purchaser of the ticket – are liable for. Because of this, it is extremely important that you read all of the fine print before signing and making the final purchase.

Determining Negligence

Due to the waivers that cruise ship passengers sign before boarding the ship, cruise ship operators are almost never liable for passenger injuries unless they are found to have acted with negligence or willful intent. Under maritime law, negligence by a ship operator relies heavily on whether or not a reasonable individual would likely have known about the danger that resulted in the injury. Because cruise ships are essentially mini-cities, the law takes into consideration the fact that most careful ship operators cannot reasonably know about every hazard or dangerous condition aboard or surrounding their ship.

For instance, any reasonably careful ship operator should know about loose ship railings, an insufficient amount of lifeboats, or a faulty engine, but they cannot possibly know about the Somalian pirates that forces the captain to maneuver the ship in a jerky fashion that results in several passenger injuries. Additionally, the cruise line may be held responsible should an employee injure a passenger, but they will not be held responsible should a passenger injure another passenger.

Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer

It can be difficult to determine negligence in a cruise ship incident, so if you sustained a personal injury while on your vacation, it may be in your best interest to consult a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer right away. The team at The Pendas Law Firm can help you review your contract with the cruise line, evaluate the circumstances that lead to your injury, and determine whether or not you have grounds to file a successful personal injury claim. Our firm services individuals in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale & Miami.

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