Frequent departures, numerous ports of call, ease of travel and relatively affordable prices have made cruises the vacation of choice for many. Almost 11 million Americans took cruises in 2008 — more than twenty times the number who did so in 1970. Unfortunately, injuries aboard cruise ships are also at an all-time high, caused by inattentive or untrained crew, poor maintenance policies and a myriad of other reasons.
What should I do if I am injured while on a cruise?
If you have been injured or assaulted while on a cruise, it is crucial to seek legal assistance immediately. Because they are located at sea rather than on land, cruise ships are governed by maritime law, a very different set of laws than ordinary businesses.
It is important to choose an attorney who is familiar with maritime law and has experience with cases like yours. There are many nuances in maritime law, including international treaties that could limit the amount of money you may be able to recover or your ability to file a lawsuit. It is extremely important to take pictures and document the source of your injury. Get the names and contact information for any witnesses to your accident. As cruise ships are out at sea quite frequently, a true inspection of the premises is often difficult and not conducted until much later. Pictures and eyewitness accounts are often the most valuabe source of information to an attorney investigating a cruise ship accident.
Your cruise ticket is a contract
Most people don’t read the fine print, but your cruise ship ticket is actually a contract that significantly restricts your rights. First, you must file your legal claim within one year of the date that the accident or injury that occurred. Additionally, you must place the cruise line on notice of your intent to file a claim within a certain amount of time, usually 180 days. If either of the deadlines is missed, you may lose your right to bring a lawsuit. Many cases have been barred completely by failing to observe these crucial deadlines.
Another important factor to note is that the cruise ticket dicates where a lawsuit must be filed. This is called a forum selection clause, and is completely enforceable by the Courts. Regardless of where you live, where you purchased your ticket or where you boarded the ship, you can only sue in the city and state designated in the contract. Many of the most popular cruise lines – including Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean – require that plaintiffs file suit in Miami, Florida. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury on a cruise, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Greenberg Stone and Urbano Visit our website at www.sgglaw.com to learn more.