Cruise Ship Accidents Can Leave You High And Dry In A Court Of Law!

September 10, 2009

It has probably never occurred to most of the millions of annual cruise ship vacationers that they could be seriously injured or even killed while on their vacation. Maybe they missed watching the blockbuster movie, "Titanic", but even if they saw it, the prevailing thought is that being on vacation somehow makes one infallible. After all, the Titanic accident happened many years ago and ships are much safer now, right? Wrong! Every month, the major cruise lines report incidents such as persons falling overboard, weather-related accidents, and even accidents involving passengers who are attending dry-land excursions away from the ship. A quick visit to cruisejunkie.com allows vacationers to see a list of incidents involving each cruise line and can give you an idea of any cruise line’s safety record and their care of passengers.

Modern cruise ships can carry up to 5000 passengers on a single cruise.  At close to 1000 feet long, the ships have many areas where a person can become injured through no fault of their own. The cruise lines register their ships in various countries, which either makes them subject to the laws of the country where they are registered or subject to maritime law, but not necessarily subject to the law in the United States. Florida Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer, Joseph Maus, 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".

It would seem that passengers who have cruise ship accidents should just be able to file a claim and receive payment the same way they would if they were injured in an accident at home in the States. But because these cruise lines are operating under different rules and laws, you should not try to handle the accident claim on your own. This is one area where you really want to have an experienced attorney standing along side you – specifically one who is skilled in filing claims for cruise ship accidents.

  • 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.

It stands to reason that cruise lines will register their ships under the flags of countries that have laws that favor the cruise company. Consequently, when you see a number of ships registered in a particular country, you can bet that country is one of the more lax in terms of labor or safety laws. The majority of ships are registered in Panama, Liberia, or the Bahamas, and many cruise lines will even register one ship in one country and another ship in another country, in order to get around the laws of the United States. Most cruise lines also advertise that they are, for example, "headquartered in Miami, Florida". This would make a passenger believe that U. S. laws would protect them. But, this is designed to make passengers feel falsely secure. Being headquartered in the U.S. does not mean the ships are registered in the U. S. – and if they are registered in another country, passengers involved in cruise ship accidents will, again, be at the mercy of the laws of the registering country or maritime law. To top it off, most cruise lines are not even American-owned, which means they can bypass the laws that ordinarily govern American corporations.

This article is not meant to turn you away from that long-dreamt-of cruise vacation. Rather, it is meant to make cruise line passengers aware that cruise ship accidents require navigating through confusing and archaic laws. If you are injured while on a cruise, 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 an accident claim, contact cruise ship accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.


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