So the entire family is packed excited and ready to go on their first sea cruise. The excitement is more often than not well-placed. Accidents happen in life. Accidents happen in hotels, shopping centers, public places, private homes … the list is endless. In most cases the cruise is a positive experience. We need not discuss those here. Injured cruise passengers are faced with many obstacles not usually encountered in other venues. For the unlucky few here are some rather important guidelines.
The facts of any maritime accident will be strikingly similar to those in other venues. But the differences between how maritime claims are processed and resolved might make the hair on potential cruisers stand up. Most cruise lines are considered common carriers. A common carrier is an individual or company that transports goods or passengers on regular routes at set rates, which includes cruise ships (and also airplanes, buses, ferries, and trains). A common carrier must use the highest degree of care to safely transport its passengers to their destination. But unlike the legal theory of strict liability, in which fault need not be established, passengers of common carriers must prove negligence or intent on behalf of the carrier (as governed by 47 U.S.C. § 206).
The first difference is “you are not in Kansas anymore”. For the most parts cruise lines decide on a “reasonable” statute of limitations. Of course to the cruise ship industry “reasonable” is a term of art. In most cases the time to file is either 1 or 2 years from the date of accident. South Florida, specifically the cruise ports of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa handle thousands of passengers daily. More often than not cruise ship accident attorneys are locally accessible in each of these ports of departure.
How should one “navigate” through the byzantine hoops the cruise ships deliberately place upon the guests. Most important and as part of any cruise vacation preparation is to review your cruise ticket to see what the time limitation is on suing the cruise line. Another obstacle cruise ships place upon their guests is the cruise line gets to choose a convenient (for the cruise line) get to choose the venue where you may sue them.
Most cruise ships serving U.S. customers are not registered in the United States, but rather in countries such as Panama or the Bahamas (where safety and labor regulations are relatively lax). Thus maritime law applies. Under maritime law, carriers are held liable for cruise ship accidents only if it can be shown that the ship’s operator knew or should have known about an unsafe condition.
As in most cases consult an attorney knowledgeable in maritime and cruise ship law as soon as possible. Miami Injury attorneys are here to help you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 1.888.413.8353.