Cruises are supposed to be a fun and rewarding experience, but what happens when that dream cruise turns into a nightmare after suffering a serious accident or injury? Cruise ships are normally governed by special laws, and depending on where the ship was when the accident occurred, a variety of federal, international and maritime laws could apply to the case. Unfortunately, these various laws tend to mean that accidents that occur aboard cruise ships are incredibly complex, which is why it’s essential that you seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney should you experience an injury while on a cruise.
Laws Governing Cruise Ship Accidents
Accidents that occur on a cruise ship are far more complex than when filing a standard personal injury claim. Should the accident occur while the ship is in a foreign port, you’re likely to encounter questions over jurisdiction and where the personal injury case should be filed. Nonetheless, the cruise ship operators themselves are the biggest reason why these cases can be so complex and difficult.
It is obviously in the interest of the cruise operator to limit its liability in personal injury cases, and virtually every cruise company inserts specific language into its tickets designed to do exactly this. Most passengers don’t realize that there are a number of contractual provisions written into their tickets that govern their ability to file a personal injury claim. The main purpose of these provisions is to shorten the time that you have to file a personal injury claim for any accidents that occurred onboard.
The majority of cruise operators have a one-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which means that you must file a legal claim within one year to the date of the accident. As well, many operators also have language written into the tickets that specifies that passengers must give a written notice of their intent to file a legal claim within six months of the accident. Most major cruise companies also dictate that injured passengers must file their lawsuits in a specific federal court, often Miami or Seattle. All of these various factors can seriously affect your ability to file a claim and receive compensation for your injuries unless you immediately seek the help of a trained personal injury lawyer to help guide and assist you through the process.
Holding Cruise Lines Liable for Negligence
Maritime and international law is very clear in stating that cruise lines are obligated to provide for their passengers safety. Should the cruise line neglect these duties and an injury result from its negligent behavior, international laws dictate that the company is liable for any damages or losses that occur as a result.
Cruise lines also insert language in their ticketing that attempts to limit their liability in these cases. However, US federal law specifically states that contractual cannot be used to dismiss claims of negligence. This means that the cruise company is liable for any injuries that result from negligence, no matter how much they may try to claim the contrary.
The fact that your accident could potentially be governed by so many different laws and jurisdictions means that it is essential that you hire a personal injury attorney that is well versed in maritime and international law in addition to US state and federal laws. The cruise industry is a multi-billion dollar business, which generally means you’ll find yourself up against a powerful, well-resourced legal team. You might also find that the cruise company tries to pressure or threaten you into accepting a smaller settlement.
Either way, it is absolutely essential that you have a strong advocate in your corner to help represent your interests and give you a better chance of getting the compensation you should be entitled to. Time is of the essence when filing a claim for a cruise ship injury, so you’ll definitely want to speak to a lawyer ASAP to get the assistance you need before it’s too late.