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Who Is at Fault When You Are Injured on a Cruise and Is It Cruise Ship Negligence?

There are many ways in which a cruise ship injury and cruise ship negligence can happen. This includes accidents such as a slip and fall, water slide, other pool-related injuries, accidents on the dock, injuries when on off-ship excursions, or even sexual or physical assault. When there is an incident that involves an injured passenger, the location of the ship at the time of the injury is key. This will play a major role when determining which laws apply and who is held responsible for the incident. 

For example, if you are on a Florida cruise ship when you are injured, it is likely that you are not within Florida’s jurisdiction because of maritime law. Maritime law states that when an injury or death occurs on navigable waters, rather than in a United States port, maritime law applies. In plain English, this means if the ship has left port and there are any cruise ship accidents or injuries, they fall under maritime law. If you slip on an unmarked wet floor caused by a crew member, you may be able to claim compensation. If a slip and fall incident has a non-staff related cause, such as a wave, it may be harder to receive compensation. However, if that cruise ship happens to be docked at the time of your incident it is considered a “common carrier”.  In which case, state and federal laws take precedence instead. In such a case, cruise ship lawyers have a much easier time proving that the ship is responsible for a dangerous condition and should be held liable. 

Cruise Ship Contracts:

Due to the complexities of cruise ship laws, and to help limit their liability, most major cruise lines include detailed contracts with numerous clauses to cover time limits on the amount of time that cruise ship passengers have to file their suit. Most of the time a passenger has a time limit of 180 days from the time of the incident to put the cruise ship on notice of the intent to pursue a claim, and a further limited period of time to bring the lawsuit. Additionally, a forum selection clause may be attached, wherein the location of the lawsuit is limited to major ports such as Miami, Seattle, or Los Angeles—even if the passengers were recruited in a distant state. However, this is only if the passengers were given the cruise contract early enough to cancel without incurring a fee.

Further, be sure to check your ticket’s contract for a “choice of law” clause. This specifies which set of laws will be applied in the event of an injury or incident. The laws applied make a tremendous difference in the outcome of a case. Due to these complexities, and many more, it is highly recommended to contact a law firm such as Friedman, James & Buchsbaum LLP, who have extensive experience in maritime law when dealing with issues of possible cruise ship negligence. Remember, you have a limited time to file a suit and even less time to put the cruise line on notice. If you believe you have suffered cruise ship negligence contact them as soon as possible.