The holidays are a popular time for cruises. Couples and families anxious to get out of their snow-packed cities and enjoy island breezes flock to Florida's ports to set sail on ships adorned with Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.
No one expects to be the victim of an accident or a crime on a cruise, but they occur. The rules for filing a claim against the cruise line are stringent and can vary by company.
Most people believe that if they're injured on a cruise, the cruise line is required to reimburse them for medical costs, a trip home and other expenses associated with the accident. However, under Federal Maritime Law, they're only responsible if it's determined that the accident resulted from the cruise line's carelessness.
What if you are injured while stopped at a port or on an excursion? It depends. Many people wander off on their own at ports of call. Just how much responsibility does the cruise line have for warning passengers about dangerous areas? As Carnival Cruises argued in a wrongful death suit involving a girl killed by gang members in St. Thomas, "Carnival stops at a multitude of ports all over the world. It cannot reasonably be expected to monitor or be aware of every single danger that may arise on any given street throughout a port city and beyond."
Many people let down their guard while cruising. They don't maintain the same level of vigilance for their safety or even that of their children as they would on land. However, rapes, robberies and other crimes can and do occur on cruise ships. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires certain safety procedures and precautions for ships that touch U.S. ports. However, before you choose a cruise line, it's wise to look at the U.S. Coast Guard's incident reports.
Most admiralty personal injury cases must be filed in Florida. This can be highly inconvenient for people who live elsewhere. There is also a one-year statute of limitations on these claims. Therefore, if you or a loved one is injured or killed on a cruise, you should seek legal representation quickly to get the ball rolling.
Cruise lines have a lot of money at their disposal to fight passengers' claims. That's why it's essential to seek the help of a Florida attorney experienced in cruise line injury cases.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Holiday Cruises-Put Passenger Safety First" Spencer Aronfeld, Dec. 15, 2014