Both U.S. and international law requires cruise ships to fully look after the safety of their passengers. Should any passenger suffer an accident or injury due to negligence of the cruise line or one of its employees, the law states that the cruise ship is liable for any costs and losses that result. However, cruise lines do everything in their power to limit their accident and injury liability, and as part of this, passengers only have a very limited period of time to file a claim for any injuries that occurred onboard.
Statute of Limitations for Cruise Injuries
Most passengers are unaware that purchasing a cruise ticket is essentially the same thing as signing a contract, and all cruise companies insert specific provisions into their tickets in an effort to limit their liability. Although the specific rules vary from company to company, most cruise lines set their own statute of limitations that governs any accidents that may occur onboard. You automatically agree to these rules when you purchase your ticket, which is why it is essential that you read the fine print in your ticket before booking.
The majority of cruise lines set a one-year limit for filing a personal injury claim, which means that you are only eligible to receive compensation if you file a legal claim within exactly one year of the date of the accident. However, some cruise companies operate under an even shorter six-month statute of limitations. Alternatively, some companies use a one-year statute of limitations, but still require that a passenger submits an official written notice of their intent to file a claim within six months of the accident.
Cruise ships operate under a wide variety of different state, federal, foreign and international laws, which makes filing a personal injury claim against a cruise line far more complex than filing a claim against any other entity. In addition, the fact that your ticket acts like a contract means that you automatically agree to certain special provisions and rules when you purchase the ticket. As with most any other situation, ignorance is no defense in this case, which means that you need to be aware of these special rules and how they will affect your ability to file a claim before you ever step foot on the ship.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury while on a cruise, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help to explain the terms and conditions of your ticket and how they will affect your ability to file a personal injury claim. In this way, you can ensure that you get your claim filed in time before the statute of limitations expires and you miss your chance to potentially receive a settlement.
Cruise Ship Personal Injury Cases
As with any other type of personal injury case, it will be necessary for you to successfully prove that your accident was a result of negligence on the part of the cruise line or its employees. The cruise line’s high-powered lawyers will generally do everything in their power to prove that the accident was your fault and thus ensure they don’t have to pay a settlement. For this reason, it is essential that you immediately start to gather evidence supporting your case as soon as the accident happens.
Any photos or video evidence that you can provide to show the hazardous conditions or negligent actions will obviously be a huge help in proving your claim. As well, it’s always a good idea to take down the contact information for any other passengers that saw the accident in case it becomes necessary to provide witness reports to corroborate your statement. Without witnesses, it may come down to your word versus the word of the cruise line. Therefore, the more credible witness statements your lawyer is able to gather, the better chance you have of proving your case.
The fact that you only have an extremely limited amount of time in which to file a personal injury claim for a cruise ship injury means that it is essential that you take immediate action. By gathering evidence as soon as the accident occurs and speaking with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you get home, you should be able to ensure that you file your claim in time and also give yourself a better chance of receiving a settlement.