Cruise Ship Doctors?

March 23, 2012

When we think about cruising, suffering an injury is not one of the things we expect to happen to us. Yet, life is full of unexpected dangers: ask the surviving passengers of the "Costa Concordia"...

Accidents and Injuries do Happen Aboard Cruise Ships

Even when the ship makes it safely home, accidents and injuries are a daily occurrence on a cruise. Other than for the fact that you are on water, vacationing aboard a cruise ship is very similar to vacationing on land. Think of it as a floating hotel that goes to places. For example, there may be damaged carpets on which you can trip, fall and get injured. Similarly, there may be a wet floor where you may slip, fall and become injured. You may be the victim of an assault by a fellow passenger or a member of the crew (to my knowledge, cruise lines don't check the criminal records of those they sell a ticket to and although they should check the criminal records of those they employ, mistakes are known to have happened). Additionally, you may get food poisoning from something you eat.

Injuries also occur when passengers participate in any of the following activities:

  1. Diving
  2. Surfing
  3. Boating
  4. Parasailing
  5. Jet Skiing
  6. Hiking
  7. ZIP Lining
  8. Off road excursions on bicycles, motor bikes, 4X4 vehicles like
  9. Jeeps, etc.

Not Cruise Ship Doctors?

When accidents happen, injured passengers usually end up being cared for by the ship's doctor. But, is this doctor actually the "ship's doctor"? He is, in the sense that he works aboard the ship. However, most passengers are surprised to learn that under the law these doctors are independent contractors, not employees of the cruise line. In most cases this means that you cannot sue the cruise line for the doctor's negligent performance of his duties.

Usually, cruise ship passengers who suffer injuries or are victims of crimes may sue the cruise line to recover damages, including loss of wages, pain and suffering and medical expenses. Similarly, family members may sue the cruise line for the wrongful death of their loved one who died while aboard ship. However, when it comes to the negligent actions of the doctor onboard the ship, a passenger may have a cause of action against the cruise line for the doctor's malpractice if the company was negligent in the selection or retention of the physician or because it failed to provide adequate equipment for him to care for the passengers.

Insist On Being Sent Home If Seriously Injured!

We understand how long you may have had to wait to go on this cruise and we are not suggesting that you insist on being sent home for a headache....Yet, if your injury is serious enough that you would have gone to see a specialist had it happened at home, we do encourage you to go home, even if you have to pay for the plane ticket. You can always take another cruise in the future, but your health and future well-being take precedence in extenuating situations.

For example, if you suffered a blow to the head and lost consciousness, you should probably seek specialized medical attention, even if you are feeling better! Traumatic brain injuries can result from mild concussions and it is very difficult to tell the extent of damage in a close head injury without special equipment usually unavailable aboard a cruise ship or in some of the ports these ships visit. Therefore, the safest thing to do is to go home, get checked by a specialist and hire a knowledgeable lawyer.

The Lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano Can Help

If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries or death while on a cruise vacation or have been the victims of serious crimes while taking a cruise, the cruise line may owe you financial compensation. However, the cruise line will not usually voluntarily pay the compensation they may owe you and will isntead try to induce you into accepting a refund as compensation for your injuries. Don't let them take advantage of your situation and pressure you into accepting their low offer.

Also, please note that these cases are usually governed by the conditions set forth in the tickets, which usually provide for a term of six months to give written notice of the claim and one year from the date of sail to file suit against the cruise line. Therefore, unless you immediately hire a law firm with experience handling these matters, the cruise line may never give you the compensation you may deserve. Please note that a Florida lawyer will not charge you for the initial consultation and will work your case on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not be charged at all, unless the lawyer wins your case.

If you or a close relative suffered an injury while on a cruise, we urge to contact a law firm with experience handling cruise ship injury cases. Throughout the years, the Cruise Lines Injury Lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have handled many injury cases against these cruise lines and they can help you obtain the compensation you may deserve. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today.

Please note that our practice has been extended with a new satellite office in Aventura to better serve clients that reside in Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Dania & Dania Beach, Miramar, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Aventura, Miami Beach, Surfside, Sunny Isles and Miami Gardens.