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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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Cruises offer the opportunity to visit exotic ports of call and embark on fun, exciting tours, but many of these destinations have safety standards and practices that are lax by U.S. standards.  Permissive safety laws and regulations and depressed economic conditions can combine to make these locations dangerous for cruise passengers.  Our Miami cruise injury lawyers pursue claims on behalf of passengers who pursue lawsuits against cruise lines for injuries incurred during shore excursions.

In this blog post, our Florida cruise accident attorneys review a case involving a passenger who suffered devastating injuries in a fall when the ground beneath him collapsed in a port of call.  The passenger and his wife were on a Holland America cruise from San Diego to Mazatlán, Mexico.  The cruise line sold a tour to the couple operated by a Mexican company that took the couple to a place called Cliff Diver’s Plaza.  The passenger was hurt when he fell after pavement at the site collapsed beneath him as he was walking. Continue reading →

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Although cruises offer a wide range of activities and entertainment, this type of vacation sometimes ends abruptly because of unsafe conditions, negligent maintenance, or careless crewmembers.  Staircases and steps constitute one of the most common locations of serious injury on cruise ships.  While a negligently maintained step can cause a tumble that results in a broken leg, broken arm, back injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or a broken wrist, our experienced Miami cruise injury attorney are intimately familiar with the difficult challenge of prevailing in these cruise injury lawsuits.

In this blog post, our Miami cruise ship slip and fall lawyers review a recent case demonstrating the challenge of winning a lawsuit involving a passenger’s fall on cruise ship steps.  In Taiariol v. MSC Crociere S.A., the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the cruise line after she slipped and fell on a step. The lawsuit alleged that the step was in a “dangerous, slippery and unsafe condition.”  This claim was based on deformation of the protective nosing on a step.  This part of a step common in cruise ships often is comprised of a metal wear strip with a rubber strip that is installed on the exterior lip of a step to decrease wear and tear.  The nosing will often encase lights (referred to as tivoli lighting).  When the nosing becomes loose or malformed from foot traffic, it can create a significant hazard to those using the stairs. Continue reading →

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Although cruises offer virtually unlimited access entertainment, activities, culinary delights, and tours, passengers can suffer serious physical and emotional injury when cruise line operators fail to provide adequate security.  Attacks against passengers and crew members that include rape, sexual battery, and other violent offenses occur on cruise ships and during shore excursions more often than you might think.  Cruise ships have a duty to properly screen their crewmembers to prevent hiring individuals prone to commit criminal acts and to implement security procedures to keep passengers safe.  Despite these duties, cruise lines sometimes fail to provide adequate security resulting in devastating consequences for cruise passengers.  In this blog, our cruise injury lawyers discuss a recent incident reported by the media demonstrating exactly the wrong way for a cruise line to handle a passenger who reports a criminal attack.

This tragic incident involved an accomplished violinist and competitive swimmer named Mary who was enthralled by the idea of cruises.  She collected cruise brochures when she would happen to pass a travel agency.  Her fascination with cruises suddenly turned dark when she suffered a sexual assault on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, which was reported in the New Times.  While experiencing a sexual assault is a horrific event under any circumstances, the cruise line was so dismissive regarding the consequences of this passenger’s experience that they made they situation worse. Continue reading →

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When you are riding on a ferry or cruise liner, you probably never consider the possibility of a collision between vessels.  While these types of accidents are rare, they do occur and can result in severe injury or even loss of life.  Insurers of commercial owners of vessels that provide boating excursions to the public understand the complex maritime and admiralty law that apply in such incidents and that possess the litigation resources to tenaciously fight liability.  In certain cases, ship owners will utilize tactics designed to cap the damage recovery and deprive an injured passenger or surviving family members of full recovery for their loss.  In this blog post, our cruise accident attorneys review the recent federal court decision in Holzhauer v. Gold Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District regarding the attempt of a ferry line owner to limit liability for injuries incurred in a collision with another vessel.

Our Miami cruise ship injury lawyers are very familiar with a strategy commonly employed by owners of ships to limit their negligence liability for boating accidents.  The ferry was taking about 500 passengers on a thirty-minute excursion when it crashed into a speed boat.  Two people on the speed boat incurred injuries in the collision causing one to die.  The captain of both vessels indicated they did not notice the other vehicle until it was too late to avoid the accident.  The plaintiff introduced evidence that the captain of the ferry was using his mobile phone immediately before the vessels collided.  The estate of the decedent alleged that the captain of the ferry was distracted which constituted the proximate cause of the fatal collision. Continue reading →

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The crash involving Carnival’s Concord Concordia cruise ship that caused the ship to sink spurred multiple lawsuits brought by passengers.  These lawsuits stem from the ship seeking, which claimed the lives of 32 passengers and caused the evacuation of thousands.  Despite the fact the captain of the cruise ship has been convicted of manslaughter, a Florida federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit brought by 57 plaintiffs cannot move forward in the U.S.  In this blog, our Miami cruise injury lawyers analyze the impact of the forum non conveniens litigation strategy used by the cruise line against U.S. passengers harmed in the crash.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court in Miami related to injuries and deaths of passengers of the Costa Concordia, which sunk after colliding with a coral reef.near the Italian island of Giglio.  The 3rd DCA dismissed the lawsuit pursuant to a motion filed by the cruise line.  The plaintiffs opposed the motion based on the fact ships owned by the Carnival subsidiary, Costa Crociere, had sailed out of Miami, FL, and 5 of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and about 100 of the 3,200 passengers on board were U.S citizens.  Continue reading →

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Passengers enjoy cruises for many reasons that include a variety of live entertainment, recreational activities, exciting shore excursions, an abundance of good food, and lots of alcohol.  While alcohol consumption might be a featured part of any cruise for many travelers, intoxication increases a passenger’s vulnerability to hazards.  If you or a loved one is injured after selecting this form of travel, the cruise line will certainly raise alcohol use by a passenger as the cause of many accidents.  What cruise injury victims should keep in mind is that alcohol sales constitute one of the most lucrative sources of profit for cruise lines.  Our cruise accident lawyers know from experience that cruise lines often push alcohol sales at the expense of passenger safety.

In this blog, our Miami cruise injury attorneys review a recent case that examines liability of a cruise line for injuries to intoxicated passengers.  A couple traveling onboard the Carnival Dream were served 22 alcoholic drinks over a period of 12 hours.  Because the couple mostly drank Long Island iced teas, the beverages had a high alcohol content.  Evidence was introduced indicating that the evening the husband suffered his fatal fall, he was obviously intoxicated at dinner though he did not exhibit a loss of coordination or slurred speech.  Later that evening, he tumbled off a stool while sitting at the bar inside the ship’s casino.  The husband and wife purchase a final round of drinks approximately an hour after the fall in the casino.  When the wife went into a club, her husband stayed behind to smoke a cigarette.  The husband ends up heading back to his stateroom where he experienced a fatal fall from the balcony onto a lower deck. Continue reading →

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