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Ports of call during a cruise offer passengers opportunities for sightseeing, recreational activities, and shopping, but foreign countries where these excursions take place can be unsafe because of environmental hazards and crime.  While major cruise companies like Carnival, Holland America Line, Celebrity X Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and others have worked to narrow the scope of their liability so that it terminates when passengers reach the gangway.  The 1985 court decision of Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd. long ago established that passengers have a duty to warn passengers of known dangers beyond the point of debarkation at locations where passengers are invited or reasonably expected to visit.  In this blog post, our Miami cruise injury lawyers examine the duty owed to passengers during excursions in the context of an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision that reaffirmed this duty established by the Carlisle decision.

In Chaparro v. Carnival Corporation, her parents and a brother accompanied Liz Marie on the Carnival ship, the M/V Victory.  Liz Marie was shot and killed during a shore excursion.  The family members indicated an unidentified cruise line employee recommended the family visit Coki Beach when disembarking in St. Thomas.  When the family was returning to the vessel, the bus traveled through a neighborhood hosting a gang member’s funeral.  A retaliatory shootout occurred while the bus the family was riding in was stopped and Liz Marie was struck by a bullet and killed.  Continue reading →

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Although cruises are inherently exciting because of the almost unlimited choices of entertainment, excursions, and recreational activities, an international cruise on the Amazon offers a unique experience.  While this type of adventure also could pose potential dangers, most cruise passengers presume their cruise line complies with or exceeds industry safety standards.  This assumption is inaccurate in some cases.  Although a fatally injured passenger might have a right to pursue a lawsuit seeking damages, this can be a difficult task to the extent the Death on the High Seas Act represents the controlling law.  In this blog, our cruise ship injury lawyers review a cruise ship tragedy that reveals the vulnerability of passengers.

Larry and Christie Hammer, an elderly married couple embarked on an Amazon River cruise offered by a Peruvian company.  While the couple was sleeping in their cabin, a power strip supplied by the cruise company and used by the plaintiff to power his CPAP machine caused a fire.  Even after the couple’s cabin was engulfed in flame, no fire alarms sounded.  Mr. Hammer died on the scene, and his wife died from carbon dioxide poisoning on the way to a hospital.  Because fire alarms did not alert the Hammers and crew members of the fire, the fire raged on for 21 minutes before any cruise personnel came to the couple’s aid.  Continue reading →

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Although cruise lines often market their ships as vacation destinations for families, many major cruise lines have elected to operate without lifeguards for decades.  In the wake of multiple drownings aboard ships operated by most of the major cruise companies, the industry is shifting toward using lifeguards to improve passenger safety.  With the announcement by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian that they will be implementing a water safety program, Carnival remains the only remaining major cruise company not to use lifeguards.  In this blog, our Miami cruise injury lawyers examine this announcement and trend in the wake of recent drownings and near drownings on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise ships have averaged at least one drowning or near drowning incident annually since 2013.  An eight-year-old boy was reportedly on life support after being found unconscious in a swimming pool of Royal Caribbean’s “Anthem of the Seas’ in July 2016.  In another incident, an eight-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool on Royal Caribbean’s “Liberty of the Seas,” which did not have a lifeguard on duty in December of 2015.  A near drowning incident in January of 2015 prompted publication of an article in the Miami Herald regarding the risk pools posed to children traveling on cruises because of the absence of lifeguards.  These are merely a few recent examples of drowning and near drowning incidents on these two cruise lines in recent years. Continue reading →

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The drowning of a passenger who fell from the Carnival Liberty cruise ship last month serves as a reminder that improved safety measures are necessary to prevent the tragic death of those who fall overboard.  The passenger disappeared from the ninth deck of a vessel in the Bahamas according to the Coast Guard.  While it might be comforting to assume that this type of incident almost never occurs, approximately 290 people have fallen overboard since 2000 reports cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein.  Many of these incidents could be prevented with the exercise of due care by the cruise line and ship personnel.  In this blog, our cruise injury lawyers review new legislation designed to improve cruise safety and mitigate the risk of passengers drowning after accidentally falling from a cruise ship.

While Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Actin in 2010 (CVSSA), which mandated various safety features including the implementation of automatic passenger overboard systems, the cruise industry has been slow to adopt this technology.  Many cruise lines continue to rely on traditional safeguards like railings, reports from the crew and family members, and unmonitored surveillance systems.  These solutions cause delays in discovering a passenger in the water so that the passenger is washed out to sea, drowns or suffer hypothermia before a search and rescue attempt can be initiated. Continue reading →

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When passengers choose a cruise as their mode of travel, they reasonably anticipate that the crew will provide an enjoyable and safe experience.  The last thing cruise guests expect is that they will become a violent crime victim with the perpetrator being a member of the staff or crew hired to make the experience an enjoyable voyage.  Unfortunately, stories of passengers being attacked, raped, or killed by the criminal acts of cruise ship personnel appear far too frequently in media reports.  In this blog post, our Miami cruise ship accident attorneys review such an incident that resulted in a confidential settlement between the cruise line and the passenger.

The Sun Sentinal published an article late last year after the former cruise ship worker complained in front of a federal judge that the former employee was having a difficult time dealing with the violence in prison.  The former employee of a major cruise line was sentenced to thirty years in prison after a violent attack during which he brutally assaulted and attempted to kill a female cruise passenger.  Prosecutors described the incident that occurred on a cruise that left from Port Everglades as an extraordinarily violent and cruel attack. Continue reading →

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While cruises offer a litany of fun and recreational activities, a certain amount of risk of injury accompanies some of these activities.  This risk increases significantly when cruise lines and companies with whom they arrange excursions fail to exercise reasonable care for the safety of passengers.  Cruise lines attempt to erect obstacles to liability that include requiring passengers to sign waivers of liability.  In this blog, our Miami cruise accident attorneys review an appellate court decision permitting a lawsuit to move forward despite the existence of a waiver executed by the plaintiff in favor of the cruise company.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida considered the enforceability of a waiver in a case in which the plaintiff was injured in a jet ski accident during a cruise.  The plaintiff and her companion were passengers on the Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas.  During the cruise, the couple took part in a jet ski tour in which the participants were supposed to follow in a line one behind the other.  A tour guide was located at the front of the line of jet skis while a second tour guide traveled alongside the group to keep the jet ski riders adequately spaced.  The jet ski tour departed from Coco Cay Island, which is Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. Continue reading →

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Because cruise companies often are based in foreign countries and operate their ships in navigable waters, there are many complex issues that have nothing to do with the merits, such as jurisdiction, choice of law, and venue issues.  Personal jurisdiction essentially refers to the authority of the court to exercise power over the defendant.  While this issue is fundamental to pursuing a lawsuit against a cruise excursion operator, the issue can be particularly difficult for a plaintiff.  Excursions offer cruise passengers many opportunities for tours, recreation, and adventure, but these outings frequently occur in foreign countries that lack the safety laws and practices observed by U.S. tour operators.  In this blog, our Miami cruise injury lawyers analyze an appellate court decision regarding personal jurisdiction of an excursion operator.

In the Florida 3rd DCA case of Haughey v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., et al, a passenger bought a ticket in Puerto Rico to take part in an Island Sea-Faris tour excursion on Antigua.  The trial court denied a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction over the excursion operator.  The Managing Director of the tour company submitted an affidavit in support of the motion contending the company had no contacts with Florida.  The excursion operator argued that no statute justified personal jurisdiction nor did the company have sufficient contacts with Florida. Continue reading →

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Our first blog post in this two-part series analyzed the barriers to legal compensation in slip and fall lawsuits against cruise companies based on the ticket contract.  While all plaintiffs injured in falls must overcome considerable obstacles, cruise passengers face an even tougher road.  Whether the fall occurs at sea during a cruise under federal maritime law or in a Miami grocery store under Florida state law, the knowledge of the defendant constitutes one of the most critical issues in determining the outcome.  In this post, our Miami cruise injury lawyers examine the challenges that must be navigated even after the obstacles created by the restrictive language in the passenger ticket contract have been successfully handled.

The cruise line will not be liable for a slip and fall accident caused by a hazard on board ship unless the cruise line knew or should have known of the existence of the unsafe condition.  While the specific defense strategies a cruise line will employ will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case, one of the most common tactics used by cruise companies is to claim it lacked the requisite knowledge of the hazard.  Even if the cruise company lacks actual knowledge, constructive knowledge is sufficient.  Constructive knowledge essentially means that the cruise line should have known of the hazard with the exercise of reasonable care.

Although constructive knowledge can be established through multiple approaches, establishing the hazard was present for a long enough time that it should have been discovered and made safe will be the most common approach.  A way that the timeline for the creation or existence of a hazard can be proven involves the use of incident reports from prior slip and falls caused by the same hazard. Continue reading →

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Florida law places significant roadblocks in the path of individuals who are injured in falls on the premises of a resort, hotel, or other commercial business catering to the public.  Maritime and admiralty law, which governs slip and fall and trip and fall accidents at sea, places special barriers in the path of injury victims who experience such injuries while on a cruise.  When these barriers are combined, the prospects of success without a knowledgeable Miami cruise injury lawyer with a track record of successful judgments and verdicts against the major cruise lines are bleak.  In this two-part blog post, we examine some of the barriers that cruise victims must overcome when pursuing a slip and fall accident claim against a cruise company in the context of examples from actual cases.

Passenger Ticket Contract Restrictions on Passenger Rights

The barriers to pursuing a fall-related injury claim against a cruise line begin when passengers purchase their ticket.  For the typical passenger, their ticket is simply a way to establish they have paid for the right to take part in the cruise.  Few travelers take the time to carefully study the contract on the back of the ticket.  However, the ticket contract constitutes a powerful tool used to shield cruise companies from liability and to induce passengers to limit or extinguish valuable rights.  Key provisions in the passenger ticket contract that slip and fall victims must be aware of include: Continue reading →

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Injured passengers on a cruise ship might assume that they can safely pursue a lawsuit for damages with the assistance of any personal injury attorney.  This misconception can have devastating consequences because attorneys who regularly handle personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in the state courts of Florida might have little experience handling cruise ship accident cases in federal courts.  Lawsuits against Norwegian, Holland America, Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, and other cruise companies will usually be based on maritime and admiralty law, so working with a cruise ship injury lawyer who lacks experience with cruise injury cases can be a costly error.

Experienced Miami cruise accident lawyers understand that cruise companies employ a powerful weapon to prevail in many cruise injury lawsuits.  Sadly, many cruise passengers who genuinely suffer devastating injuries during cruises receive no compensation from negligent cruise operators who fall back on their secret weapon – the passenger ticket contract.  The strict timing requirements for providing notice and initiating a lawsuit in the typical passenger ticket agreement derails far too many legitimate lawsuits brought by passengers injured on cruise ships.  Continue reading →

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