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Watch Out For Those “Dry Land” Cruise Ship Accidents!

April 15, 2009

Every year hundreds of thousands of passengers all over the world take to the seas for their vacation adventures. Usually cruises are leisurely events designed to help you relax and unwind from the stresses of job and home. You can do as much or as little as you want to do on a cruise. So, what could go wrong?

For starters, people are injured each year just getting onto the ship. Those walkways leading up the ship can be treacherous and people who are excitedly snapping pictures of loved ones embarking on their vacation can trip and fall or, worst case, go overboard before the ship has even left the dock (just ask the mother of the toddler who slid under the walkway railing and right off the gangway into the water below.) Cruise ship accidents can easily happen when passengers stumble or trip and fall in the hallways during the cruise, or when they pass by the wet pool areas. It has been reported that the Carnival Destiny left port on October 2, 2008 with an empty pool.  A passenger complaint indicates that there were no signs posted alerting passengers of the empty pool, and that only a flimsy net covered the pool.  One man reportedly dove into the pool unaware of the danger, landing on the cement bottom of the pool, and becoming seriously injured.

Cruise ship accidents also can happen when the ship leaves port and goes from calm waters to the choppier waters of the ocean or when the ship runs into storms along the way. The Carnival lines Splendor encountered 40 knot winds and rough seas on a November, 2008 voyage that had passengers rolling out of bed during the night.

It turns out that you aren’t even safe on dry land. Passengers can be injured while disembarking the ship to go on a tour in an exotic port, or when they are embarking onto a launch or tour bus, or even while walking around a tour site. Many examples can be found if you take time to read about cruises. The following are just some of the reports of cruise ship accidents taken from CruiseJunkie.com:

  • In March, 2008, a 44 year old woman from the cruise ship Norwegian Spirit, fell 65 feet to her death while on a cruise-sponsored zip line tour through the jungle in Roatan. At the time of the writing of the article, the cause had not been fully determined: either the harness holding her broke or the cabled zip line snapped.
  • On September 24, 2008, a 52-year-old woman drowned while on a cave tubing excursion in Belize. Strong currents pulled her to a cave wall and dragged her beneath the water.
  • On February 23, 2009, 16 passengers from the celebrity Cruise Lines, Summit, were injured on an excursion from the ship when their tour bus lost control and drove into a ditch.
  • On February 20, 2008, a 65 year old man died while on a snorkeling expedition off Cozumel, Mexico.
  • 5 passengers were killed and 4 were injured when a flightseeing aircraft went down in the waters off Ketchikan, Alaska, in August, 2007. The passengers were from the Holland American ship, Zuiderdam.

For people who are involved in cruise ship accidents, it may not be as easy to resolve the case by just filing a claim with a cruise line and wait for the claim to be paid. You should know that if you are injured while on a cruise, the laws that govern your claim are different than the laws that apply on dry land. You should definitely not try to handle the claim yourself – you should hire a competent attorney about any cruise ship accidents. Joseph Maus, a Florida cruise ship accident lawyer says, "depending on when and where your accident occurs, your claim may be controlled by Florida law, Federal Maritime law, or a law from a foreign port. Accidents and injuries which occur on Cruise Ships can be won and lost on requirements which apply only to Cruise Ships. Take a look at your Cruise Ticket for some of these "special" requirements".

  • For example, Maus says:
    "Cruise lines often insert special provisions into their passenger tickets that shorten the time in which a passenger may file a law suit against the cruise line to one year. (The normal statute of limitations for admiralty and maritime matters is three years; for a typical car accident claim it is four years!)".
  • These same provisions generally require you to give notice of a claim for injury or death due to negligence against the cruise line within 6 months!
  • Maus also says: "Cruise lines also designate within their passenger tickets the only location where they can be sued. (Take a look at the tiny print on the back of your ticket). Most of the major cruise lines are based in Miami, Florida and designate Miami, Florida as the location where they must be sued." This means that if you live in Maine and vacation on a cruise, you may have to litigate in Miami at considerable cost and time to you.

Enjoy your cruise vacation and have a great time. But, be aware that if you are injured while on your vacation, you need to talk to an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer as soon as you get back to dry land so you can protect your rights.

For more information about cruise ship accidents and advice about accident claim, contact cruise ship accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.

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