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Cruise Lines and Liability for Injuries Related to Excessive Alcohol Consumption

For many, cruise ships have become synonymous with relaxation, plentiful food, and equally plentiful alcohol.  Several cruise lines have started offering all you can drink beverage programs, where cruise passengers can pay a set fee in order to enjoy unlimited drinks throughout their cruise.  Alcohol consumption on cruise ships is high, as almost anyone who has cruised will agree, and it could become even more prominent with expanding all you can drink options.  Will having a few cocktails while you enjoy your cruise is hardly a problem, the excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to serious accidents.

Increasing and unchecked alcohol consumption among passengers increases the risk of cruise ship accidents such as:

  • Slip and falls
  • Overboard accidents
  • Sexual harassment
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Underage drinking
  • Fights and assaults

The more alcohol is accessible and offered in great quantities, the greater the risks of excessive consumption.  One example of the dangers of alcohol on cruise lines is the overboard accident that occurred on a Carnival ship in 2013.  This incident involved a woman traveling with her fiancé and her friend.  Allegedly, the bartender on duty that night kept encouraging the female passenger to buy more drinks, likely in an effort to increase alcohol sales.  The woman became extremely intoxicated and went out to her balcony for some air.  She lost her grip on the banister, slipped, and fell overboard into the ocean, striking a lifeboat and sustaining critical injuries by the time she hit the water.  She miraculously survived the ordeal and filed suit against the cruise line for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming both from the pushing bartender and the delayed rescue.

The issue of liability for accidents stemming from the excessive consumption of alcohol is complex, both on the high seas and on land.  The cruise line has a responsibility to its guests to take reasonable measures to ensure their safety.  There is case law in Florida that states cruise lines can face liability when they over serve passengers to the point of clear intoxication and injuries result.  The court will likely consider whether the bartender knew or should have known of the passenger’s intoxication, which could include evidence of slurred words, falling over, passing out, and the like.  If a bartender on a cruise ship continues to serve a highly intoxicated person or someone underage, a court could hold them accountable for the foreseeable injuries that result.

Anyone who has been injured in an alcohol related incident on a cruise line should consult with a cruise ship accident attorney as soon as possible.  Your attorney will investigate the accident and evaluate your chances of obtaining a full recovery.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano:  Assisting the Victims of Cruise Ship Accidents in South Florida and Beyond

If you have been injured in a cruise ship accident or become seriously ill while cruising, contact the Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano.  We have of 130 collective years of experience representing those injured in all manner of cruise ship accidents across South Florida.  We seek to obtain the best outcome possible for each of our clients, which will often include recovering for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our firm has received a coveted AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and the Miami Herald recognized us as a top firm in South Florida.   Allow our exceptional attorneys to provide you with superior legal services in the South Florida area.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.


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