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Young children continue to fall victim to cruise ship accidents, and a recent accident has left one young boy with severe injuries.  As a cruise ship was traveling through the Caribbean, visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands as well as the Bahamas, an 8-year-old boy suffered a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury (TBI) after falling on a basketball court on Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Escape.”   Reports indicate that at the time the accident occurred, the parents were not there to witness what happened.

However, there is apparently a video available documenting the young boy’s fall which would help to shed light on what happened.  Norwegian Cruise Lines has refused to produce the video to the family, and the family has taken legal action against the cruise line both to compel the cruise liner to turn over the video as well as to seek recovery for the young boy’s traumatic injuries.

The Injured 8-Year-Old Boy is Learning How to Walk Again

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have the potential to cause neurological challenges that could be temporary, or could last for a lifetime.  First and foremost, the young boy who suffered a fractured skull and TBI aboard the Escape is lucky to be alive, but he certainly faces challenges as he recovers from these devastating injuries.  At this time, the young boy has begun the process of learning how to walk again, something that we often take for granted.  Additional challenges TBI victims face include but are not limited to, the following: Continue reading →

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The Zika virus has caused an uproar worldwide and is one reason why the Rio Olympics may suffer this year, as many athletes and spectators have chosen not to go to Brazil for fear of contracting the Zika virus.  This particular virus has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect which causes infants to have small and misshapen heads.  Recent cases of Zika in the Miami area have caused South Florida residents some concern as the Zika virus has now officially been contracted in the United States.

Zika Cases Identified Near South Florida Port

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed four people contracted the Zika virus in a small area of downtown Miami, near the port where many cruise ships take off.  This has understandably caused many potential cruise ship goers concern as to whether or not it is safe to go on a cruise.  The Florida Department of Health believes the four cases of Zika were locally transmitted and not travel-related.  Continue reading →

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South Florida will be welcoming three new cruise ships this fall from Carnival Cruise, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America Line.  The largest of these three cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s “Harmony of the Seas,” is equipped to handle 6,000 passengers, and will have seven separate “neighborhoods” aboard the ship.  The Harmony of the Seas cruise ship is the largest cruise ship ever built and will have an Imax theater, a Skyride “cycling track,” as well as a water park for children.  Carnival Cruise and Holland America Line will have similar amenities to serve their passengers.

Be Prepared if You Are Planning on Taking a Cruise

Cruise ships are widely popular, and the unveiling of three extremely large and updated cruise ships only confirms that the cruise ship industry is most certainly booming.  However, while cruise ships should be enjoyable vacations, problems can occur at any time without warning.  As such, if you take all steps possible to protect yourself, you may be able to reduce the risk that you and your loved ones will suffer an injury or illness while onboard the cruise ship. Continue reading →

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If you have ever had a stomach bug or flu, you know just how awful the symptoms can be.  Norovirus is an extremely contagious stomach-related infection that has been known to plague cruise ships, causing numerous passengers and crew members to become ill.  A recent court ruling in the United Kingdom, the first of its kind in U.K. courts, determined that Fred Olson Cruise Lines is responsible for the illnesses suffered by numerous passengers onboard the cruise ship Boudicca in March and April of 2011.  The U.K. court found that the Norovirus victims are entitled to compensation for their suffering as a result of contracting Norovirus.

The Boudicca cruise ship had been traveling in the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and the Iberian Peninsula when the Norovirus outbreak occurred, confining many passengers to their cabins for the duration of the cruise.  While Norovirus can be contracted anywhere, when contracted on a cruise ship, the rate at which people can catch the illness goes up as there may not be an opportunity for ill passengers to exit the ship at any given moment.  If the cruise ship is not close to land, passengers may be stuck dealing with the illness until the cruise ship can reach its destination. Continue reading →

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The Amazon River has already encountered cruise ship accidents this year, but a recent accident onboard the Aqua Amazon cruise ship is proving to be more tragic.  For reasons unknown at this time, an explosion occurred on the cruise ship, and a fire broke out.  The fire caused the boat to sink and left many crew members injured, and a few of these crew members have lost their lives.

At this time, there are five crew members still missing from the ship.  The number of missing crew members was originally seven, but two bodies were later recovered.  A total of eight crew members have been hospitalized, and while five of these crew members are stable and receiving necessary medical attention, three of these crew members are being treated in the intensive care unit.

The timing of this cruise ship could have been worse had passengers been onboard the Aqua Amazon at the time the fire broke out.  While it is horrific that these crew members suffered the consequences of a cruise ship fire, hundreds if not thousands of others could have been injured or killed if the ship was currently holding passengers. Continue reading →

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Young children continue to fall victim to swimming pool accidents on cruise ships, and a recent accident only confirms that a problem truly exists on board many cruise ships.  Just last month, an 8-year-old boy lost his life two days after being found lying in a pool on board the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship.  Coast Guard officials believe the boy was in one of the cruise ship’s swimming pools for approximately 8-10 minutes before being found.  While the boy did survive for two days following the swimming pool accident, the cause of his death was ruled a drowning.

Should Cruise Ships Have Lifeguards on Duty?

The vast majority of cruise ships do not have lifeguards on duty to monitor passengers (both children and adults) swimming in cruise ship pools.  Many cruise ships also have more than one pool, leading many people to ask why cruise ships have not enlisted the services of lifeguards.

Some cruise ships take the position that passengers swim at their risk and are responsible for watching their children at all times when swimming in the pool.  On the flip side, many passengers believe that if a cruise ship is going to make the decision to have swimming pools, then the cruise ship is also taking on the responsibility to ensure the swimming pools are equipped with lifeguards. Continue reading →

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The cruise liner Norwegian Breakaway recently lost one of its crew members during a weekly safety drill when a lifeboat carrying the crew member detached from its tethering, which, according to some accounts, may have been left hanging by one wire before the accident occurred.  A nearby tour boat attempted to bring the 41-year-old crew member to safety, but despite its best efforts, the man later lost his life.  The man had several broken bones and was unable to move.  The impact of slamming into the ocean likely caused this man significant injuries that resulted in his untimely death.

Who is to Blame?

It is unfortunate that a crew member has lost his life while undergoing a weekly safety drill that presumably is meant to make the cruise ship safer and to ensure all crew members know what to do in an emergency.  More likely than not, the focus of the investigation of this cruise ship accident will be on whether or not the lifeboat was safely attached to the cruise liner so that there was a decreased chance of the lifeboat detaching and dropping into the ocean. Continue reading →

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Recently, a federal court of appeals opened the door for medical malpractice claims against cruise line companies. Historically, state and federal courts have held that passengers cannot sue a cruise ship’s medical personnel for medical malpractice. With this recent ruling, plaintiffs may now be able to recover for such claims.

In Franza v. Royal Caribbean, Ltd., a passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean ship was traveling with his spouse and children when he fell while boarding a trolley by the dock on a stop in Bermuda and suffered severe injuries to his head. Instead of being referred for medical services on the shore, the ship required him to go to the medical facility on the ship for treatment. A ship nurse examined the passenger and advised him that he was ok to go back to his cabin. However, hours later, the passenger’s family called for emergency assistance, and it took staff nearly twenty minutes to come and bring the passenger to the ship infirmary. Additionally, the medical staff on board refused to examine the passenger until the family provided credit card information. Continue reading →

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Normally, under Florida statute, plaintiffs in negligence lawsuits have four years from the time of the injury to file an action in state court. While this statute of limitations applies to most negligence cases, plaintiffs in cruise ship negligence suits may find themselves subject to other laws that affect their rights, specifically maritime law. Litigants involved in legal actions against cruise lines, as well as other legal actions that include events arising in the seas around Florida, should be aware that maritime law might affect their rights and obligations. As the case below illustrates, one of the many possible differences between Florida and maritime law pertains to time limits.

In Lupola v. Lupola, a woman and her husband were riding a raft that a boat driven by her father-in-law, was pulling. During the trip, the boat executed a maneuver that made the raft go airborne. The raft then hit the water hard enough that its passengers were ejected from the raft and suffered injuries. Less than four years later, the woman sued her father-in-law and the manufacturer of the raft in a Florida state court, claiming that her father-in-law was negligent in driving the boat and that the manufacturer was liable for negligently designing the raft. The defendants asked the court to dismiss the suit, arguing that the action had passed the three-year statute of limitations for negligence actions under maritime law as opposed to the four-year limitations period for negligence suits under Florida statute. The plaintiff responded that, even though maritime law governed her case, the court should equitably toll the limitations period because her husband’s attitude kept her from asking for legal advice for an extended period after the accident that caused her injuries. The court granted the defendants’ motion and dismissed the case as untimely. The plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

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Cruise ship passengers often ignore the fact that their tickets are, in fact, contractual agreements that contain specific provisions governing a wide variety of issues. A passenger’s failure to pay attention to these requirements may result in loss of rights or benefits under the ticket agreement. The case below illustrates this important issue, where a court dismisses a passenger’s case because she failed to follow the dispute resolution provisions of her ticket agreement.

In Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. v. Clarke, a cruise ship passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruises ship was injured in a cruise ship accident. That passenger procured the services of a local attorney who filed a lawsuit several days before the one-year limitations period provided in the cruise ticket expired. However, the attorney filed the case in the Miami-Dade state courthouse instead of a federal court as required by the ticket’s terms. Accordingly, Royal Caribbean asked the state court to dismiss the case because the plaintiff filed suit in the wrong forum as provided for in the ticket, but the court denied the motion. Royal Caribbean appealed the denial. Continue reading →

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