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Suing a Cruise Line for Personal Injuries

In light of the tragic news about an 8-year-old girl who passed away after falling several floors on the Carnival Cruise Lines ship, Glory, it is almost certain that a lawsuit will eventually be filed. While we don’t know all the details of the accident, one news report indicates that the fall could have been 25 to 50 feet. This would raise the question of whether the Glory had adequate railings or other protections to prevent children from falling.

If you are injured on a cruise ship, or suffered an injury as a result of a cruise ship’s doctor, it is important you contact an experienced attorney immediately. This is because the cruise ship industry has written a different set of rules for cruise ship accidents that are different from other land-based accidents.

First, the location of your lawsuit (i.e., where you file suit) is determined by the language of your ticket. This is called a “Forum Selection Clause” or “Venue Selection Clause,” and is not even written on your ticket—it is located on the ship’s website. While you may not have read this before you stepped on board, you are not alone! Such contractual provisions are written by lawyers for the cruise ships whose goal is to protect the interests of the cruise line and make it as hard as possible for passengers to bring claims. Nevertheless, courts have approved these clauses, so it is important to read this language carefully. If your ticket says you have to file suit in Miami-Dade County, Florida, then that is where you need to file suit. Otherwise, you are in the wrong place, and your case may be dismissed.

Second, the time within which you must notify the cruise line and file your lawsuit is also determined by the language of your ticket (which, again, is not actually on your ticket—it’s on the cruise’s website). Generally speaking, passengers have 180 days after the accident or negligent act within which they must notify the cruise line of the claim (including details of the accident). Then, the passenger must file suit within one (1) year. Note that this time limit is different than time limits applying to ordinary lawsuits for negligent acts on land.

Third, a different set of laws apply to accidents and negligence occurring on board a cruise ship. The law that applies is “Maritime” and “Admiralty” law. Maritime and Admiralty law applies to negligent acts that occur in navigable waterways—whether it’s the ocean, bay, or a river that has access to the ocean. Because Maritime and Admiralty law applies, it is important to have an experienced cruise accident attorney handling your case.

At Freidin Brown, we have vast experience handling cruise ship accident and negligence claims. Our attorneys are on call 24/7 to tell you where and when you need to file your lawsuit against the cruise line. When have a proven track record of success, and have a reputation for standing up to the large corporations that own and manage cruise ships. Call us today at (888) 650-0918 for a FREE consultation.


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