How to File and Pursue a Cruise Passenger Injury Claim
If you have been injured while on a cruise, you may have the right to seek money and other damages from the cruise line. However, cruise ship injury cases are a more specialized area of the law than a typical slip and fall or personal injury case. There are many unique challenges to pursuing a cruise injury claim, especially since many cruise ships are registered to foreign countries, the companies that own the cruise ships are often based internationally, the accidents often happen in international waters or in the territory of another country, and you typically only have one year to bring any type of claim for injuries on a cruise ship.What Kind of Injuries Can You Seek Damages For?
Cruise ships have a special duty to make sure their passengers are kept safe during the course of the trip. Cruise ships are known in the law as common carriers. This means they have a responsibility to make sure their passengers make it back to the port safely.
If you have been injured as a result of any actions by any of the crew of the ship, you may have a claim for damages. This could include everything from a slip and fall accident where a mess was not quickly cleaned up, to getting hurt by a hatch or door slamming onto your hand, to pool drowning, to passenger assault, to general negligence claims.
Often more serious injuries such as head traumas, sexual assaults, and drowning occur onboard a cruise ship. You can also seek to recover damages for these injuries, or in the case of the death of a passenger, the passenger’s family can bring a claim for wrongful death against a cruise line.
You will generally have to show that the cruise line or one of its employees was negligent in some way and that your injury was a direct result of that negligence. Cruise lines could be liable for injuries that happen on shore excursions, or you could have a claim against the tour operator.Where Do You Bring Your Claim?
Often, the rule in the law is that cases should brought where the injury occurs. But, this would be impossible with most cruise ship injuries. The jurisdiction where the ship left port or returned to port can be the place where court cases for cruise ship injuries can be brought. This is generally not the case though.
To protect themselves and for uniformity, many cruise lines have what’s called a forum selection or venue selection clause in the contract you sign when you buy your ticket for the cruise. This means that you agree that if you sue the cruise ship you will sue them in a specific place. Before knowing where to bring a claim for cruise ship injuries, the contract must be carefully analyzed.
For example, if you are injured on a Carnival Cruise, you typically have only 6 months to put them on specific notice of the claim, only one year from the date of incident to file a lawsuit, and may be required to sue them in a specific court, like Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida, in the Miami courthouse. Failure to follow the correct venue choice may bar your claim forever.
Royal Caribbean slip and fall claims often requires the same as Carnival, but like Carnival, there may be exceptions to the cruise contract depending on the particular ship. Disney Cruise Lines, for example, is based out of central Florida and requires lawsuits typically to be filed in the Middle District of Florida, Orlando courthouse.
Because cruise ship injury cases are not only complex, but also must be brought in such a short period of time, it is essential that you hire an attorney who has the experience to bring a cruise ship injury claim and recover money for their clients. If you were injured on a cruise ship, talk to an attorney right away before your time runs out.
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