For many years, cruise ship accidents were not something that made the news or were in the thoughts of potential passengers. Then there were a series of incidents where cruise ships became disabled far out to sea, were hit with outbreaks of terrible viruses that left hundreds of passengers sick, had reports of violent crime and ineffective investigation, and experienced disasters where a large cruise ship runs aground. As numerous incidents are being reported, it may seem like more should be done to correct the underlying weaknesses that lead to these situations. The truth is there is a problem with the system. If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of a cruise ship accident, the skilled Miami cruise ship accident attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano have the experience to get compensation for your injuries.
The reason that there has not been more of a regulatory crackdown is because the cruise industry falls into a strange gap, where no one authority has total control over the enforcement of rules and regulations. This nebulous oversight means that cruise ships are not as accountable for the unsanitary conditions, dangerous hazards, and criminal incidents as they should be.
There are further complications resulting from who really owns and controls these companies and where are the ships registered. Carnival Corp. is an example of this confusing mix of international players. Although the headquarters for the company are located in Miami, its parent company actually is incorporated in the country of Panama while many of the Carnival ships are registered in the Bahamas. What the ship registration means is that anytime the cruise passes outside of American or Canadian waters into international territory, the Bahamian authorities are in control of most of what happens with the ship, including investigation into incidents by the Bahamas Maritime Authority, which does not have to cooperate with U.S authorities. Moreover, because of the foreign registration, these cruise lines are not required to comply with the wage and working condition laws of the United States.
One of the ways in which cruise lines mislead their customers about the safety of their ships is editing the information that they report. The occurrence of crimes while at sea mean that there are no investigators on board to collect evidence at the time of the incident. This may lead to under-reporting when the ship returns to port as the victim may not believe there is a chance at justice. Moreover, the cruise industry does not include deaths that occurred from crimes or from passengers falling overboard as part of their reported statistics. Some estimates have an average of one cruise ship death a month from these incidents, on average.
In 2012, cruise ships around the world had 20 shipboard fires, 14 collisions, 5 incidents of running aground, and 4 ship sinkings. However, these incidents are not from a regulatory body, but are reported on the privately-maintained website Cruise Junkie. The operator of that site, Ross Klein, is a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. Mr. Klein only has access to accident reports and not information on shipboard crimes. The cruise industry does report operational fatalities, or those deaths that are the result of accidents like fires, sinkings, and collisions. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) cites the findings of a maritime consulting group, G.P. Wild when it cites the statistic that it carried 223 million passengers from 2002 to 2011 and only had 28 deaths, 22 of which were crew members. Seeing a statement like this would make anyone feel pretty good about going on a cruise, unaware of the real danger that exists on board a cruise ship. There are also many thousands of fall down and excursion injuries every year where the cruise line or others may be at fault.
If you have been injured or a loved one has died while on board a ship, it is important to contact the experienced Miami cruise ship accident attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano Litigating cases against a cruise line involves sophisticated legal strategies because of the many different parties who may be a part of the cruise ship company and the international complexities. For decades, our South Florida cruise ship accident lawyers have successfully won cases against cruise lines. Please call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or contact us through our website to schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your case and present your legal options.