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Cruise ships bring together a large number of people from many different areas and backgrounds.  Communicable illnesses are always a threat to passengers and crew members.  The crowded, somewhat enclosed nature of the cruise ship can result in the easy transmission of infectious diseases through the air, water, food, and common area surfaces.  Crew members who remain on board from previous cruises can also serve as transmitters of diseases.  Our Miami cruise ship injury lawyers offer the following look at illnesses commonly experienced by cruise line passengers and crew members, along with some tips on preventing these unpleasant and sometimes dangerous diseases.

GI Illnesses

            Gastrointestinal related illnesses are perhaps the most common form of illness experienced by cruise ship passengers and crew members.  Most GI related illnesses stem from the virulent bug norovirus.  This virus is easily transmitted from person and person and those who have experienced the bug in the past will not have immunity to it when re-exposed.  Several major cruise lines have been plagued with norovirus outbreaks in recent years, at times to the extent that the cruise must return to port earlier than expected.  The best defense against this illness is consistent hand washing, especially before eating and after using the restroom.  Ask your cruise line about their sanitation protocol, which can make a big difference in the number of people that will contract the virus in the event of an outbreak.

Respiratory Illnesses

            There are several major respiratory illnesses that commonly sicken cruise ship passengers.  The first is influenza, known as the flu.  Flu seasons are typically at opposite times of the year in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, making it possible for cruise ship occupants to catch the flu year round.  The flu will usually pass without complication, for a few cruise ship passengers or cruise members the flu can turn deadly.

Legionnaires’ disease is another respiratory illness that can be contracted on cruise ships.  This disease is caused by inhalation of water containing the Legionella organism.  The illness commonly results in pneumonia and other serious respiratory problems.  This respiratory illness can be prevented through increased sanitation of pool and spas.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

            Some crew members and passengers may come from countries with low immunization rates, placing others at risk of contracted vaccine preventable diseases like measles, chicken pox, and rubella.  Older passengers are most at risk as they may lack immunity to the diseases that are generally only vaccinated against in childhood.  Anyone considering taking a cruise should consult with their doctor to determine whether they may benefit from additional booster vaccines and crew members should be required to show proof of immunity when hired by the cruise line.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Assisting Injured or Ill Cruise Ship Passengers and Employees

If you or a loved one is injured or takes ill on a cruise, the Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. are here to help.  We have over 130 collective years of experience representing cruise accident and illness victims, including injured crew members, in South Florida.  We will assess your accident and determine your best avenue for recovery from the cruise line responsible for your injuries or illness.  We have the experience and knowledge to provide you with top notch legal representation.  Our firm has received a coveted AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and the Miami Herald recognized us as a top firm in South Florida.   Allow our exceptional attorneys to provide you with superior legal services in the South Florida area.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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Recently, two crew members were hospitalized after an accident on the Pride of America, a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.  The accident occurred while the ship was docked in Hilo, Hawaii.  Norwegian reports that officers were performing a routine inspection of the ship’s rescue boat.  Two crew members in their 30s were lowering a lifeboat from the ship when the lines suddenly gave way.  The men tumbled into the boat and then into the ocean.  First responders transported the injured men to the Hilo Medical Center for care.  Norwegian has stated that it will comply with local authorities in the investigation of the accident.

Cruise Line Crew Members Face Potential Dangers

            This is not the first accident involving a rescue vessel to result in the injury of cruise line crew members.  Last year, a crew member aboard the Coral Princess died in Panama while performing similar routine inspections.  Two crew members on the vessel were lowering the lifeboat when a cable snapped and the boat plunged into the water with the two men aboard.  One of the employees perished in the accident and the other required hospitalization.

In 2013, another incident involving a rescue boat aboard a cruise ship killed five crew members and injured another three.  On the Thompson Majesty ship, one of the ship’s lifeboats fell into the sea during a training drill.

Injured Crew Members Have Several Avenues for Recovery

            Whereas most land based employees cannot sue their employers due to the immunity provided by the workers’ compensation system, crew members are generally considered seamen and governed by admiralty law.  Cruise employees thus have unique rights and remedies against their employers.

Crew members injured while at sea can seek compensation from their employers under the following theories of liability:

  • Breach of contract
  • Jones Act negligence
  • Wrongful discharge
  • Unseaworthiness
  • Earned wages
  • Maintenance and cure
  • Unearned or sick wages

All of these claims are complex and will require employees prove several vital elements.  It is important that injured crew employees consult with an attorney well versed in the complex and specific laws of admiralty and specifically cruise line accidents.  Your attorney will walk you through the difficulty process of filing a claim against your employer under the legal theory that will give you the greatest chance of success.

With the assistance of an experienced attorney, injured crew members may be able to obtain compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any long term disability or other effects from the accident.  Those left unable to return to their position on the ship may receive additional compensation to account for the long term nature of their injuries.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Miami Cruise Accident Attorneys of Unmatched Experience and Excellence

If you are an employee of a cruise line experience an injury while working, contact the Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A.  We have over 130 collective years of experience representing cruise accident and illness victims, including injured crew members, in South Florida.  We will assess your accident and determine your best avenue for recovery from your employer.  We have the experience and knowledge to provide you with top notch legal representation.  Our firm has received a coveted AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and the Miami Herald recognized us as a top firm in South Florida.  Allow our exceptional attorneys to provide you with superior legal services in the South Florida area.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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Recently, a fire broke out on a Royal Caribbean ship as it pulled into port in Falmouth, Jamaica.  The company reports that the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship fire was extinguished and passengers were assembled at the ship’s assembly stations.  Royal Caribbean says all systems on the ship are functioning and it will continue on its trip, with the next stop in Grand Cayman.

While the company seems to be downplaying the fire, passengers have reported considerable smoke.  One passenger told news outlets that she noticed dark smoke and debris outside the window.  Crews ordered her and other passengers to put on life-preservers.  She was informed that one of the engines had caught fire, but did note that crew members kept passengers calm.  Further, one crew member suffered first degree burns in the fire that took one and a half hours to extinguish.  A video has emerged of the smoking ship that seems to depict a considerable fire.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation and fortunately no serious injuries resulted from the flames.

Cruise Line Fires

            There have been several major cruise ship fires in recent years.  In 2013, an engine fire started on the Carnival Triumph.  The fire disabled the engine, leaving the ship adrift and without air conditioning or running water.  Passengers endured horrible conditions, including excessive heat and overflowing toilets, until finally they were towed to shore.  Several lawsuits were filed after the doomed cruise and some passengers were award thousands of dollars.

In 2014, a fire broke out again in the engine room, this time of an Oceania Cruises ship. The fire claimed the lives of two contractors and one crew member.  Fortunately, no passengers were injured in this large blaze.

One of the biggest cruise ship fires which did result in injury to passengers took place in 1998.  A Carnival Ecstasy caught fire after leaving the port in Miami, injuring 60 people aboard the ship.

    While fires are not generally anticipated on cruise lines, several conditions can lead to fires.  The most common causes of cruise ship fires include:

  • Fuel leaks in the engine room
  • Electrical shorts caused by poor maintenance on breakers or switchboards

Around 80 cruise ship fires occurred between the years 1990 and 2011, making instances of fire on cruise ships rare but within the realm of reality.  In the event of a cruise ship fire, passengers onboard have few places to go to find safety given the relative confinement of being on a ship.  Being injured in a cruise ship fire can cause considerable damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and psychological damages.  The victims of cruise ship fires may be eligible for compensation for these serious losses.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Over 130 Years of Collective Experience   

            Taking a cruise is supposed to be a time of relaxation and fun.  If you or a loved one has been injured or taken seriously ill on a cruise line, contact the Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. We have over 130 collective years of experience representing cruise accident and illness victims in South Florida.  We will review your cruise ship accident case and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.  Our firm has received a coveted AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and the Miami Herald recognized us as a top firm in South Florida.   Allow our exceptional attorneys to provide you with superior legal services in the South Florida area.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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When a violent attack by a crew member or the negligence of a cruise line operator contributes to serious injury to passengers, cruise line patrons can experience intense pain, emotional hardships, permanent disability, and significant financial hardships.  Although every cruise ship accident that results in a serious injury or the death of a passenger or crew member is tragic, these horrific accidents at sea can often prompt new regulations and stricter safety standards.  When cruise lines feel the financial impact of their negligent conduct or failure to act, they have a greater incentive to prevent future illnesses, injuries and loss of life.

The luxury liner the Costa Concordia made international headlines after running aground in 2012.  The tragedy claimed the lives of 32 people among the passengers and crew.  The cruise industry was spurred to take proactive steps to prevent similar tragedies in the future in the wake of negative publicity and substantial liability.  Industry officials formed the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which immediately emerged as the largest trade organization in North America.

When the Costa Concordia ran aground, the force of the impact was so loud that passengers heard the noise.  After a temporary power outage caused by water flooding the engine room, the ship’s captain ordered an evacuation because the cruise liner had begun to list.  The story was widely reported by international media sources because the ship was the largest ever to be abandoned.  Following the cruise ship disaster, the captain was arrested on charges of manslaughter for causing the wreck, failing to be the last to leave the ship, and evading his duty to assist passengers.  He subsequently faced additional charges for failing to provide information to maritime authorities about the scope of the crash and for abandoning incapacitated passengers.

In the aftermath of this fatal cruise ship crash, 9 cruise industry trade associations, including the CLIA agreed to coordinate efforts under an umbrella organization to standardize safety regulations and protocols.  Some rules that were expected to be adopted based on the facts of the Costa Concordia shipwreck included the following:

Lifeboat Drills: Lifeboat drills must be conducted at least every six months.

Recording Passenger Data: Cruise lines must preserve records of passenger nationality, which must be made readily available to rescue workers.

Life Jacket Access: Ships must have more life jackets than the number of passengers.

Instructions in Emergencies: Cruise operators are required to provide passengers with twelve pieces of information as part of emergency instructions.

Timing of Muster Drills: These drills have to be conducted before the ship departs at the beginning of a cruise.

Limiting Bridge Access: Access to the bridge is limited to individuals necessary to the ship’s operation at times when an increased focus on navigation is needed, such as amidst heavy traffic or near port.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Cruise Shipwreck Victims and Their Families

These are just a few examples of improved safety standards that emerged following the Costa Concordia tragedy.  If you have been injured or you have lost a family member during a cruise accident, our Miami Cruise Line Injury Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. tenaciously pursue the fullest compensation for our clients.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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This is the second installment of our two-part blog post providing key information that injured cruise line passengers should know about cruise injuries and their legal rights.  Although we have provided a broad range of general information, our Miami cruise ship injury lawyers recognize that you might have more specific questions, so we invite you to contact us to speak with an experienced cruise ship accident attorney.

How long does it take to resolve a legal claim arising out of a cruise ship accident?

Each case is unique based on its own facts and circumstances, but our law firm typically resolves these cases in less than a year.  While some cases settle within a few weeks or months, our goal is to aggressively pursue the best possible outcome for our clients.  The best outcome does not necessarily translate into the fastest resolution.

What parties might be financially responsible for injuries that occur while I am on a cruise?

There are a range of parties that might be liable for an accident during a cruise that causes injury.  Negligent conduct by the ship’s crew, builder of the vessel, cruise line company, excursion organizers, and potentially others can entitle a passenger to financial compensation.  The crew and staff have a legal duty to ensure the reasonable safety of passengers on board a cruise ship.  When passengers fall and damage their spinal cord because they slip on spilled items in the buffet line, employees that fail to clean up the debris might be liable.  If a fall is caused by steps that are made out of slick materials, the manufacturer of the vessel might be financially responsible.

There are a multitude of companies that may be affiliated or otherwise connected to the cruise line against whom financial recovery might be possible.  Sometimes a company that coordinates an activity or excursion might be liable if the tour guides are careless or improperly trained.  The company that manufacturer’s equipment used for a recreational activity might be financially responsible if passengers are injured because of a product defect.  These are just a few examples of potentially responsible parties.  It is also important to keep in mind that more than one party might share liability.  The company that charters and/or operates the ship or even the company that sold you your ticket along with any subsidiaries also might be a viable defendant.

What are common types of injuries suffered by passengers on cruise ships?

Serious injuries caused by accidents or criminal acts can occur anywhere on the ship, such as on stairways, slippery or wet decks, cabins or restrooms.  Injuries may be caused by faulty equipment, poorly maintained facilities, or acts of violence committed by staff or other passengers.  Injuries can occur while disembarking, getting on or off tenders, and even during shore excursions.  Although the range of potential injuries a cruise passenger can suffer runs the gamut from minor injuries to catastrophic and fatal injuries, common types of injuries include:

  • Head injuries (e.g. traumatic brain injuries)
  • Broken legs, arms, wrists, and ankles
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Bulging and herniated disks
  • Knee injuries
  • Spinal injuries to the neck and back

What are some of the types of cruise line incidents that cause injury to passengers?

Although most travelers never expect to experience injury or illness during a cruise, some of the types of accidents and crimes that cause injury and that result in liability to injury victims include:

  • Slip and falls
  • Sexual assaults and rapes by crew members
  • Medical malpractice
  • Passenger overboard accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Product defect claims from faulty equipment
  • Tender accidents
  • Accidents during shore excursions organized or sanctioned by the cruise line
  • Cruise ships colliding with other vessels or running aground

Why do I need to wade through the fine print on my passenger ticket?

While most passengers never bother to plow through the multiple pages of a passenger cruise ticket because it is loaded with a wealth of complex legal terms in small print.  Admittedly, the language printed on a passenger ticket is not easy reading, but the terms and conditions significantly affect your legal rights if you suffer injury or illness.  Many people miss important restrictions imposed under the provision of their ticket, such as a one year time limit to pursue a personal injury claim.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Passengers Injured by the Negligence of Cruise Lines

If you experienced a serious injury on a cruise ship or excursion arranged by a cruise line, our Miami Cruise Accident Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. are prepared to fight for our clients.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

 

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While many families are counting the days until they depart on an exciting cruise, vacations at sea involve exposure to potential hazards that can cause permanent life-altering injuries.  If you suffer a serious injury like paralysis or brain damage, the legal obstacles and challenges involved in pursuing compensation can be much more complicated than those faced in a typical slip and fall or rear-ender.  Summertime has arrived, which means school is out and parents are getting ready to depart on their big family trip.  While no one expects to suffer a significant cruise ship injury, cruise passengers do experience accidents and violent crimes.  This two-part blog post provides an overview of information relevant to cruise ship accidents, injuries, and legal claims.

What safety steps can a passenger take to reduce the risk of injury during a cruise?

While many of the steps to avoid being injured on a cruise ship might be similar to appropriate safety precautions during a stay at a resort or hotel, a cruise ship presents certain unique risks.  Rough seas, for example, occasionally results in a passenger being cast overboard.  Some basic safety steps might include:

  • Review safety materials and brochures that are made available in your cabin and other locations on the ship
  • Consumption of alcohol should be moderate, and caution should be exercised when walking around the ship after drinking
  • Comply with any directions from the staff regarding wearing a life vest
  • Pay attention to the instructions issued by the crew of the ship before the ship embarks on its journey and during the cruise.
  • Do not venture too close to the cruise ship’s guard rails and keep kids a safe distance from the guard rails
  • Avoid walking around the ship when experiencing harsh weather and rough waters

What steps should I take in the aftermath of a fall, recreational accident, or near drowning?

The actions you take in the immediate wake of suffering an injury in an accident on a cruise ship can impact your prognosis and the prospect of a legal claim for compensation.  Prudent post-accident steps include:

  • Obtaining immediate medical attention from the ship’s doctor
  • Following up by visiting a medical facility with more elaborate diagnostic tools after reaching port
  • Keeping your passenger ticket and other documentation provided by the cruise line because the forms will include purported disclaimers and limitations regarding your legal rights
  • Preserving any documents that are given by staff, such as an accident report
  • Getting contact information for any witnesses as well as any documents related to your injuries
  • Seeking legal advice from an attorney experienced in handling cruise injury claims

Will an injured passenger need to return to Miami to bring a legal claim for monetary recovery?

The vast majority of cruise lines include provisions in their passenger ticket contract that requires lawsuits to be filed in United States Federal Court in Miami.  While our attorneys often can handle most court appearances and other ancillary matters, injured passengers might need to return to Miami on one or more occasions.  While a plaintiff would need to appear at trial, most cruise accident lawsuits settle without a trial.  A passenger might still be required to return to Miami to participate in a deposition and/or mediation.  However, sometimes we can use video conferencing technology to minimize the times that clients need to return to Miami.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking the Fullest Measure of Compensation for our Cruise Ship Injury Victims in Florida

If you experience injury because of the negligent or intentional conduct of a cruise line or ship employees during your vacation, our Florida Maritime Accident Injury Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. tenaciously pursue the maximum monetary recovery for our clients.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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While most people do not anticipate suffering catastrophic injuries, they are not as rare as you might think.  Federal data reveals that traumatic brain injuries cause 52,000 fatalities and 275,000 injuries per year while another 12,000 people suffer non-fatal spinal cord injuries annually.  This does not even include other forms of catastrophic injury, such as extensive burn injuries, amputation or limbs, internal organ damage, and loss of life.  Although these types of permanently debilitating injuries often are associated with motor vehicle accidents involving cars, trucks, and motorcycles, passengers on cruises also can suffer this type of devastating injury.

Cruise ship accidents, such as falls caused by poorly maintained walkways, recreational or sports accidents, and violent assaults, can all lead to catastrophic injuries.  When cruise lines fail to take reasonable care to protect passengers from suffering permanent debilitating injuries, passengers can suffer both physical and mental disability along with deep emotional scars.  These types of injuries often entail massive medical expenses, partial or total long-term disability, pain and suffering, lifetime supportive care, and other damages.

Whether an accident causing these types of devastating injuries occurs while the ship is at sea or during a shore excursion, the extent of damages can have a dramatic impact on a passenger’s quality of life.  Because access to law enforcement personnel and diagnostic medical tools are limited during a cruise, the process of gathering and preserving evidence presents special challenges.

Even if you suffer what might seem like a minor injury during a cruise, it is important to seek the ship’s doctor because certain injuries like a traumatic brain injury or damage to the spinal cord might not be immediately apparent.  While the cruise ship might have security personnel, the lack of law enforcement authorities with forensic experience can jeopardize your future legal claim.  It is important to indicate that you want the scene secured to permit a forensic investigation at the next port.

Preservation of evidence issues, complex choice of law and/or jurisdiction challenges, and self-serving passenger ticket contract language make your choice of Florida Maritime Accident Lawyer important.  Many people select an attorney simply by running a search on the Internet or checking the phone book, but a more thorough screening process can improve the probability of a favorable outcome.  If you are evaluating candidates to handle your catastrophic injury claim stemming from a cruise ship accident, you should consider the attorney’s relevant experience handling catastrophic injury and/or wrongful death cases and maritime-related accidents or attacks.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Financial Compensation for Passengers Injured on Cruises

If your vacation getaway on a cruise line was marred by an accident or criminal act that caused serious injury, our Florida Maritime Injury Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. provide tenacious advocacy for injury victims.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

 

Sources:

 

http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/pdf/BlueBook_factsheet-a.pdf

 

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Tour excursions to enjoy ancient ruins, beautiful vistas, and exciting forms of recreational activity often constitute the highlights of a cruise experience.  Many of these side trips for educational, leisure, or physical activity purposes involve significant risks of injury or even wrongful death.  Cruise passengers might assume that all available excursions are carefully vetted to ensure the activities comply with appropriate safety standards.  However, many excursions on foreign soil are not subject to the same safety requirements that are imposed in the U.S.

Unfortunately, even inside our national borders, cruise ship excursion accidents and deaths can happen.  A recent Alaska floatplane excursion accident serves as a tragic reminder.  Float plane excursions are extremely popular with passengers enjoying Alaska cruises because they provide an almost incomparable way to enjoy the beautiful vistas offered by the region’s wilderness.  Despite stronger safety standards within the U.S., excursions can still end in life-altering accidents that cause devastating injuries like the loss of limbs, paraplegia, quadriplegia, massive burns, disfigurement and death.

In the recent fatal crash involving the floatplane, all nine passengers on the sightseeing excursion died.  The DHC-3 turboprop was transporting 8 Holland America cruise ship passengers as part of an aerial tour of Misty Fjords.  Although the small plane crash is currently under investigation, media sources indicate that poor weather might have contributed to the accident.  At this point, authorities looking into the fatal excursion have not determined whether the floatplane crashed into the ground or flew directly into a cliff.

Even if inclement weather was a factor in causing the plane crash, this does not mean that the company that hosted the excursion or the cruise line is off the hook in terms of liability.  If the crash was impacted by wind and rain, liability might depend on efforts taken to investigate the weather before the excursion or the reason the sightseeing trip went forward despite a forecasted storm.  Further, the cruise line might share liability with the excursion operator depending on the nature of the relationship between the companies, as well as the specific facts and circumstances of the tragic crash.

When cruise passengers are injured during tour excursion, there can be many causes, ranging from tour operators who fail to properly inspect and maintain their equipment to tour guides who lack proper experience and training.  When companies offering tours and recreational excursions are modest operations, they might have limited insurance coverage.  Our experienced Miami Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers examine all potential viable defendants and available sources of insurance, so we can develop a strategy aimed at pursuing the fullest recovery for our clients.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Injury or Wrongful Death on a Cruise Excursion

If you have suffered serious injury because of negligence by a tour company and/or cruise line, our Florida Cruise Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. tenaciously pursue the best outcome for our clients.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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When you lose a loved one or family member who is a passenger, seaman, or guest on a cruise ship because of the negligent conduct of the cruise line, the law that governs your right to recovery is complex.  A wrongful death claim may be brought by the beneficiaries of those who die under such circumstances if the death occurs at least three nautical miles from land.  Surviving family members considering such a legal claim must understand their basic rights as defined by the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA).

 What time limits apply for filing a wrongful death claim under DOHSA?

The statute of limitations for a DOHSA wrongful death claim is three years from the date of death.  However, passenger tickets constitute a contract between the passenger and cruise line.  The ticket contract often significantly shortens the time frame within which a wrongful death claim must be commenced by ticketed passengers.

What family members have a right to bring a claim for wrongful death?

There are a number of family members who can obtain recovery as a beneficiary under DOHSA, including:

  • Decedent’s Spouse: If you were lawfully married to the decedent when he or she died, you qualify as a beneficiary under DOHSA.  While a divorce judgment will prevent the ex-spouse from being considered a beneficiary, the spouse still has a right to recover if the divorce has not been finalized.  If a man and a woman have a common law marriage that is recognized under the state law where the couple reside, the spouse in this situation also will be considered a beneficiary.
  • Children of the Decedent: Biological and legally adopted children who have experienced pecuniary loss because of the death of a parent have been ruled to be beneficiaries.  Stepchildren who have suffered pecuniary loss due to the decedent’s death also are considered beneficiaries.
  • Decedent’s Siblings: Financially dependent siblings also may qualify as beneficiaries.
  • Parents of Decedent: Parents of the decedent are considered beneficiaries but only if they are financially dependent on the decedent.

What damages can be pursued in a wrongful death claim under DOHSA?

DOHSA imposes a distinct framework for damages built around the estimated financial value beneficiaries would have received from the decedent had he or she not died.  Within this framework for damages, the following forms of compensation might be available:

Lost Monetary Support and Financial Contributions: This form of damages provides compensation for the lost fiscal contributions the decedent would have made to a spouse and children over the period of his or her life expectancy less the cost of care and maintenance of the decedent.

Loss of Parental Guidance: This form of damages compensates dependent children for the loss of guidance, care, and training of a deceased parent.

Inheritance Reimbursement: This form of compensation compensates beneficiaries for the loss of financial support to dependents over the life expectancy of the decedent.

Loss of Services: This type of damages compensates beneficiaries for the value of loss of household services that would have been provided by the decedent.

Pain and Suffering of Decedent Prior to Death: While a monetary recovery can be sought for the pain and suffering of the decedent, this form or recovery is only available if death was not instantaneous.  The decedent can be compensated for pain and suffering incurred from the time of injury until death.  A further restriction on this form or recovery mandates that the decedent pass away while pursuing a personal injury claim in federal admiralty court for the unreasonably unsafe acts or omissions that eventually resulted in the death of the decedent.

Burial/Funeral Costs: The actual cost of burial and funeral costs paid by beneficiaries qualifies for reimbursement.

Unfortunately, DOHSA limits monetary recovery to “pecuniary damages,” so certain types of damages are not recoverable.  When a spouse, child, parent or sibling dies, the surviving family members will experience mental anguish and grief, but compensation for this type of harm is not available in a wrongful death claim under DOHSA.  Additionally, the loss of companionship, love, and affection of a spouse (referred to as “loss of consortium”) also does not constitute a form or recoverable damages.

Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for the Loss of a Loved One on the High Seas

If you have lost a close family member in an accident or criminal attack on a cruise ship, our Florida Cruise Injury Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

 

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Cruises are not inexpensive and often provide a once in a lifetime vacation experience.  While cruises offer convenience and a variety of activities, these activities, facilities on the ship, and organized shore excursions in ports of call can result in cruise ship accidents like debilitating injuries, illnesses, and wrongful death.  Cruise lines rely on a wide range of strategies to avoid liability for harm to passengers caused by negligent and/or intentional acts or omissions of employees of the cruise line.

The tactics utilized by cruise lines to avoid paying injury claims begin before passengers even board the cruise ship.  The ticket contract purchased by passengers is filled with language and provisions that are designed to limit a passenger’s rights and remedies in the event of an accident or malicious act that causes ticket purchasers to suffer injury.  Although few people take the time to read the fine print on the back of their ticket before boarding the ship, this is a prudent course of action that can assist you in making better decisions if you are the victim of a cruise ship accident.

Cruise Line Ticket Contact Provisions Used to Stack the Deck against Passengers

While there are many ways that the passenger ticket contract might be written to limit your rights and remedies if you are injured during your cruise, some common examples include:

  • Most cruise tickets significantly shorten the permissible period of time that you have to file a lawsuit against the cruise line for injuries on the cruise or a shore excursion. The time limit indicated might be as short as one year though you would have significantly longer under federal law or the laws of any U.S. state.  The time limit for a slip and fall, for example, would be four years under Florida law.
  • Almost all cruise ticket fine print specifies the location and court with jurisdiction to hear a personal injury claim, referred to as a “forum selection clause.” In many cases, the city/court designated to hear the case will not be a location that the passenger visited during the cruise.  Frequently, these cases must be tried in federal court in Miami where there is no right to a jury.  Because maritime law, admiralty law and the law of other countries might control your case based on the fine print on the ticket, it is important to talk to an experienced Florida Cruise Injury Attorney.
  • Cruise ticket contracts generally impose a mandatory notice requirement of 120 to 180 days on passengers before they can pursue a legal claim against the cruise company.
  • When you are injured by any worker on cruise ships under most ticket contracts, including physicians, nurses, entertainers, spa workers and other personnel, they are designated as independent contractors who work directly for you rather than the cruise line. In other words, the ship’s doctor is your service provider, rather than a service provider furnished by the cruise ship.  This provision is intended to insulate the cruise company from liability for negligence of people working on the cruise line.

Our Miami Cruise Injury Lawyers understand the strategies that can be used to navigate past these potential traps, which include limited exceptions to these rules.  Our lawyers have experience dealing with the limitations buried in passenger cruise tickets and successfully litigating these provisions when representing injured passengers.

Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A.:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

 If you are the victim of negligence or sexual assault during a cruise, our Miami Cruise Ship Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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