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Cruise Ship’s Duty of Care to Passengers Not Absolute, Carroll v. Carnival Corp., Case No. 11-23372-CIV-GOODMAN (S.D. Fla 2013)

Cruise ship negligence cases, as with all negligence claims, center around the issue of whether the cruise ship and its employees failed to fulfill a duty of care owed to a passenger under the circumstances. As the case below illustrates, the extent of the duty of care owed depends on the facts of each case.

In Carroll v. Carnival Corp., a person was a first-time passenger who suffered two separate cruise ship injuries. The passenger first slipped and fell in one of the cruise ship’s elevators and broke her elbow. Two days later, the passenger slipped and fell again in one of the cabin bathrooms and broke her femur. After returning to port, the passenger filed a negligence suit in a federal district court in Miami against the cruise ship company alleging two counts negligence. Additionally, the passenger claimed that the cruise ship company’s duty of care to her increased after the initial accident.

During the trial, the plaintiff indicated that she was not under any form of special restrictions after the initial accident. According to her testimony, she received treatment at a port of call by a local doctor, who placed her arm in a sling. The doctor gave her no special instructions to refrain from certain activities, walk in a particular manner, or wear specific clothing. The plaintiff did not ask the ship staff for assistance in moving about the cruise ship, and later, she slipped while in the bathroom after some difficulties with her clothing.

The district court explained that a cruise ship owner owes passengers a duty of reasonable care, but the law does not consider the cruise ship as its passengers’ insurer against all possible hazards. Therefore, the district court did not find that the cruise ship owed the plaintiff a greater degree of care after the first accident just because it knew she suffered injuries on board the ship. According to the court, the cruise ship was under no responsibility to instruct the plaintiff on what clothing she should wear or to provide her with staff to assist her in the bathroom, especially since she did not request such assistance.

The court concluded that the issue of whether a cruise ship company committed negligence depends on whether it acted reasonably in light of the facts and circumstances of each case. A cruise ship company with knowledge of a particular passenger’s special circumstances, such as a physical disability, may be responsible for doing more for such a passenger under the standard of reasonable care than it would for a passenger with no disabilities. However, in this case, the court determined that the cruise ship would not have known that the plaintiff required assistance with her routine activities on the boat, including walking around. The plaintiff resumed all of her daily activities after the initial accident and did not request for any assistance. Therefore, the court ruled in the cruise ship’s favor.

If you or a loved one has been injured while on board a cruise ship because of the cruise ship’s negligence or recklessness, the Miami personal injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire.  With over 130 combined years of experience representing personal injury clients across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence.  Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights.  Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald.   Put our exceptional personal injury attorneys to work on your case.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.




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