Cruise ships should be the settings for joyous holidays, relaxing getaways, and fun family vacations. Unfortunately, cruise ship accidents sometimes occur that put guests and workers at risk.
Cruise ship accidents can encompass any illnesses, injuries, or damages that occur on cruise ships. These accidents can lead to injuries ranging from mild to severe. However, general maritime law and other elements can quickly complicate cruise accidents.
If you were injured on a cruise, you need a qualified attorney on your side. At Sadaka Law, we have extensive experience representing clients throughout diverse cruise ship accident claims and lawsuits.
Contact our cruise ship accident lawyer today to request your free consultation.
Common Causes of Cruise Ship Accidents
Cruise ship accidents can occur due to a wide range of causes. Here are a few of the most common causes of cruise accidents.
Equipment failure can sometimes cause the guests or employees onboard a cruise ship to experience injuries. For example, any of the following types of equipment can malfunction on a cruise ship, leading to injuries:
- Recreational equipment
- Sliding doors
Cruise ship owners are responsible for maintaining their equipment to the highest standards. When they fail to fix problems or schedule regular inspections, accidents can occur.
Cruise ship illnesses can sometimes occur due to contaminated food. Cruise ships tend to offer more seafood than traditional restaurants to stay on theme with their oceanic environments. However, consuming seafood puts guests at a higher risk of contracting certain foodborne illnesses.
In other cases, improper sanitation on cruise ships can lead viruses to pass quickly from guest to guest through food stations.
Lack of Security
Cruise lines are responsible for including adequate security measures to protect guests against common threats, such as theft or weapons. For example, cruise passengers must pass through security before entering the ship. Failing to provide these necessary security measures can make cruise lines liable for the damages that occur.
Navigational Errors, Resulting in Collisions
Unfortunately, cruise ship collisions are a relatively common source of cruise-related injuries and damages. Cruise ships are massive vessels, and even small navigational errors can cause them to collide with other ships or structures.
Improper Ship Maintenance
Cruise ship crew members are responsible for maintaining the ships to the highest standards. Improper maintenance can result in malfunctions that lead to cruise ship injuries or even death.
Crew Member Incompetence
Sometimes, cruise ship accidents occur when employees fail to perform their duties to the necessary standards. If crew members make mistakes or purposefully fail to complete tasks that lead to accidents or other damages, they may be liable.
Insufficient Medical Equipment
Cruise ships are isolated vessels that need to have comprehensive medical and survival equipment onboard. If a cruise ship passenger becomes seriously ill or injured while on the ship, the crew members should have the necessary equipment to sustain them until they reach land.
Failing to stock essential medical equipment can leave the cruise line responsible for any worsened injuries or illnesses that occur while trying to reach land.
Failure to Provide Warning Signs
Major cruise lines can remove liability for accidents in some instances by providing adequate warning signs.
For example, cruise lines may include warning signs near pools indicating that passengers should not swim unattended. If a floor becomes wet and slippery, the crew members should place “wet floor” signs to warn passengers.
Failure to provide warning signs about hazards may make the cruise line liable for resulting injuries and accidents.
Inadequate Planning for Shore Excursions
Shore excursions are some of the most enjoyable aspects of cruise vacations. However, cruise lines still have some responsibility for passengers during excursions. Failure to plan safe trips or relay pertinent safety information during a shore excursion can lead to injuries or illnesses.
Types of Cruise Ship Accidents
The accidents that take place on cruise ships can be broken down into a few general categories. Here are the types of cruise accidents that most commonly lead to injuries and damage.
Slip and Fall
Slip and fall accidents are common on cruise ships. Aside from the fact that cruise ships are constantly surrounded by water, they also contain many water-based features, such as pools, water slides, and fountains. Slippery floors are common hazards on these water-based vessels.
Passengers can also slip or trip on other hazards throughout the cruise ship. For example, uneven flooring, defective stairs, or unnoticed elevation changes can also lead to injuries.
When waves become choppy during cruises, passengers can easily lose their footing or trip on furniture or other hazards. However, when passengers arrive at the ship, they often sign disclosures and waivers that remove the cruise line’s liability for such hazards.
If you have experienced a slip-and-fall accident on a cruise ship, our cruise ship accident attorneys can help you understand liability.
Drowning and Wrongful Death
Unfortunately, drownings and deaths sometimes occur on cruise ships. Even when cruise lines include the appropriate safety measures to prevent passengers from falling overboard, drownings can still happen.
For instance, passengers can drown in on-ship pools or during excursions. If a passenger disobeys warning signs near the cruise ship railing, or if a portion of the railing breaks while the passenger is leaning on it, they could fall overboard.
Wrongful death can occur for other reasons as well. For example, passengers can experience injuries during recreational activities on board or during shore excursions.
Physical or Sexual Assault
Unfortunately, cruise ship passengers can also become victims of physical or sexual assault from crew members or other passengers. In 2019, over 100 sexual assault allegations arose for cruise ships embarking and disembarking in the U.S.
The risk of experiencing physical or sexual assault on a cruise ship may be slightly elevated because perpetrators believe their actions can go unnoticed due to maritime law. Domestic disputes may also arise when family members share close, tight quarters for prolonged periods.
Cruise lines are typically not liable for disputes that happen between passengers. However, when a crew member assaults a passenger, the cruise line may be partially responsible if it failed to perform a background check on the crew member.
Cruise ship passengers sometimes contract noroviruses on board. Noroviruses are acute gastrointestinal illnesses that cause nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
You can contract norovirus directly from an infected person, by touching contaminated surfaces, or by ingesting contaminated food or water.
In recent years, cruise lines have taken measures to decrease the spread of norovirus on board their ships. However, they cannot prevent norovirus entirely. Cruise passengers are still at risk of contracting this virus from other passengers onboard, as it spreads quickly when passengers share close living quarters.
Cruise companies typically have their own medical staff on board to treat passengers for minor ailments and to manage more serious injuries and illnesses while in transit to medical facilities. These medical professionals can commit medical malpractice just like any other healthcare worker.
If an onboard medical professional fails to treat an injury or illness with the reasonable care that another professional in their field would provide, they may be liable for malpractice. Malpractice can worsen injuries and illnesses.
Legionnaire’s disease is an illness that sometimes spreads in pools and hot tubs. This disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Cruise ship passengers can become infected when they accidentally swallow water containing this bacteria.
While Legionnaire’s disease is rare, it sometimes spreads on ships that do not implement adequate sanitation measures for pools and hot tubs.
Passengers can also become injured in recreational accidents while onboard the ship and during excursions. Cruise lines often include roller coasters, water slides, zip lines, and other activities for passengers to participate in while on board. These activities can put passengers at risk if the cruise lines do not take adequate safety precautions.
How Common Are Cruise Ship Accidents?
Many people are surprised to learn about the prevalence of cruise ship injuries and accidents. They often do not think of cruise accidents when picturing common personal injury cases.
In reality, cruise ship injury cases are relatively prevalent worldwide. However, obtaining accurate statistics about injuries and illnesses is challenging, as not every cruise company discloses all accidents that occur on board.
Additionally, cruise passengers sometimes do not report injuries that may have been the company’s fault. Passengers often fail to realize when a cruise company is liable for accidents.
As a result, if you experienced any injuries or illnesses on a cruise ship, speaking with an experienced cruise ship accident is essential to understand your liability and compensation options.
Cruise Ship Injury Statistics
The cruise industry does not publish annual statistics about accidents and injuries. After all, sharing this information publicly may deter future passengers from boarding their ships.
However, many sources estimate that around 200 deaths occur on cruises annually. This number may be higher because not all cruise lines report their deaths.
A 2010 study analyzed the passenger accidents and injuries reported during three years on a cruise ship. This study found that 663 injuries occurred during the three years. Of these 663 injuries:
- 12.5% of injuries were considered serious
- 65.3% occurred aboard rather than ashore
- Slips, falls, and trips caused 44.8% of injuries
- 2% of injured passengers were hospitalized in port
- 5% of injured passengers were referred to specialists ashore
Data gathered by cruisejunkie.com shows that 448 “major” cruise accidents occurred between 2005 and 2021. Major accidents can include fires, collisions, and other drastic events.
The same report from cruisejunkie.com estimates that over 600 cruise ship passengers and crew members died between 200 and 2019.
Which Cruise Line Has the Most Accidents?
A study titled “Death at Sea: Passenger and Crew Mortality on Cruise Ships” analyzed cruise ship industry mortality rates between 2000 and 2019. The study found that of the reported passenger deaths, 29% occurred on Carnival Cruise Lines, 12% on Royal Caribbean Cruises, and 10% on Norwegian Cruise Line.
Major cruise lines like Carnival Cruises typically have more accidents than smaller cruise ship companies simply because they have more passengers each year. However, sometimes major cruise lines are more likely to sweep accidents under the rug and hide them from public knowledge.
What Should You Do After a Cruise Ship Accident
Taking the proper measures after a cruise line accident is essential to improving your case outcomes. Here are the steps you should take after a cruise ship injury:
- Notify authorities: First, you should contact a cruise line director, employee, or doctor about the incident. Contacting authorities as soon as possible can help ensure that the cruise line does not deny the accident down the line. You can also ask that the cruise line complete an official investigation into the incident.
- Gather evidence: Cruise ship injury claims fall under maritime law. To gain compensation for these accidents, you must provide sufficient evidence that another party, such as the cruise line, was responsible. Evidence can include photos of the accident, video footage, witness testimonies, and the investigation report.
- Review the fine print in your passenger ticket contract: All cruise passengers must sign a passenger ticket contract when purchasing their cruise ticket. The fine print in this contract removes the cruise line’s liability for certain accidents and indicates how to file personal injury claims.
- Contact maritime personal injury attorneys: Finally, you should hire a cruise ship accident lawyer with extensive experience navigating maritime law and cruise accidents. Having a qualified legal team can streamline your cruise ship accident case and help you maximize compensation.
Our cruise ship injury law firm can help you through these steps and provide qualified guidance to assist your cruise ship injury claim.
Victims’ Common Mistakes After the Accident
Along with taking the appropriate measures after experiencing a serious injury or illness on a cruise ship, you should also avoid making mistakes that could hurt your case.
The aftermath of a cruise ship injury can be stressful, overwhelming, and chaotic, and it’s easy to say the wrong thing. However, one wrong move could significantly impact your cruise ship injury lawsuit or insurance claim.
Here are a few common mistakes for cruise ship accident victims to avoid:
- Avoid admitting fault or apologizing under any circumstances.
- Avoid altering the accident scene before taking photos and collecting evidence.
- Avoid talking to the insurance company without a cruise ship accident attorney present.
- Avoid accepting a settlement from the cruise line without your attorney’s guidance.
Your cruise ship injury lawyer can help you avoid these critical mistakes and improve your cruise ship accident case.
Can You Claim Compensation for a Cruise Ship Accident?
If you were injured on a cruise ship, you can seek compensation in a few different ways. The first method is through cruise ship injury claims.
Your cruise line should have liability insurance to pay for accidents and injuries that occur in the scope of the cruise company’s responsibility. You can submit an injury claim to obtain funds to cover your:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of ability to work
- Emotional distress
Your cruise ship law firm can help you submit this claim to improve your chances of receiving a payout.
If the insurance company denies your claim or fails to pay adequate funds for your personal injury claim, you can consider taking legal action against the insurer. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also file a cruise ship accident lawsuit against the cruise line.
Cruise ship injury lawsuits can be complicated and overwhelming. It’s best to approach these personal injury lawsuits with a team of qualified cruise ship accident lawyers on your side.
Proving Negligence for a Personal Injury
Before you can obtain compensation from the cruise line for your serious injury or illness, you must gather evidence to prove cruise line negligence. Large cruise lines often attempt to brush injuries under the rug to avoid lawsuits and bad publicity. However, you have a right to bring a cruise ship injury claim against the negligent party.
Cruise lines have a duty to provide reasonable care to passengers. The term “reasonable care” can be subjective, but it typically involves taking appropriate measures to protect passengers against foreseeable or existing hazards.
Your cruise ship injury lawyer can help you obtain evidence to prove the following essential elements of a personal injury lawsuit:
- The cruise line had a duty of care to protect passengers.
- The cruise line breached its duty of care.
- The cruise line’s breach led to an accident.
- You experienced injuries directly resulting from the cruise ship accident.
Your maritime lawyer can also help you examine the fine print in your passenger ticket contracts to determine whether your injury falls under the qualifications for cruise line negligence.
How Can You File a Claim For Your Injury from a Cruise Ship Accident?
You can file a personal injury claim with the cruise line’s liability insurance company. You will need to include as much evidence about the injury as possible. Your claim should also contain details about the accident, such as the time, date, and approximate location under general maritime law.
Your cruise accident law firm can walk you through this process to improve your outcomes.
How Much Compensation Will You Get?
The amount of compensation you will receive through a personal injury claim or lawsuit depends on several factors, such as:
- Your resulting expenses
- The particular ship you were traveling on
- The cruise line’s negligence and percentage of the liability
- Whether you file an insurance claim, lawsuit, or both
- The details in your cruise ship passenger ticket contract
Ideally, you will receive enough funds to cover future and past medical bills, property damage, and other direct damages from the accident.
Damages that Can be Recovered in a Cruise Ship Accident Claim
Injury victims in a cruise ship accident lawsuit can seek a few different damages.
The most common damages to seek in a personal injury lawsuit are compensatory damages. These damages cover the economic and noneconomic expenses directly resulting from the accident.
Meanwhile, some cruise accident victims may qualify for punitive damages. These damages punish the cruise line for acting recklessly to cause the accident.
How Long is The Process of Settlement?
The settlement process for a cruise ship injury or wrongful death lawsuit usually takes between 30 and 60 days from the time your cruise ship lawyer files the lawsuit. However, the exact time your case will take can vary.
Working with reputable cruise ship lawyers can help you streamline your case and receive compensation faster.
Can You Sue a Cruise Ship Company for Your Injury That Happens on a Cruise Ship?
Maritime law typically only allows injury victims to sue the cruise line when they experience severe, life-altering injuries. These injuries may include:
- Loss of limbs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Wrongful death
It never hurts to talk to a cruise ship lawyer if you’re unsure whether your serious injury could qualify for a lawsuit.
Can I Get Compensation Without a Lawyer?
While you technically can file a cruise accident claim or lawsuit without a maritime lawyer, doing so isn’t wise. If you don’t have much legal experience, you risk wasting your time and hurting your ability to receive compensation by completing this process independently.
Where Do I File a Lawsuit Against a Cruise Ship Company?
In most cases, injury victims must file lawsuits against a cruise line at the cruise line’s headquarters. Many cruise ship companies include details in passenger tickets about where to file lawsuits and injury claims. Your cruise ship accident law firm can also help you understand where to file.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Cruise Ship Accident?
Your cruise ticket will detail the maximum time you have to file a claim against the company. This deadline is often six months from the date of the incident.
If you’re looking for a knowledgeable, experienced attorney to guide you through your cruise ship injury case, we can help. Contact Sadaka Law today to schedule your free consultation.