The drowning of a passenger who fell from the Carnival Liberty cruise ship last month serves as a reminder that improved safety measures are necessary to prevent the tragic death of those who fall overboard. The passenger disappeared from the ninth deck of a vessel in the Bahamas according to the Coast Guard. While it might be comforting to assume that this type of incident almost never occurs, approximately 290 people have fallen overboard since 2000 reports cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein. Many of these incidents could be prevented with the exercise of due care by the cruise line and ship personnel. In this blog, our cruise injury lawyers review new legislation designed to improve cruise safety and mitigate the risk of passengers drowning after accidentally falling from a cruise ship.
While Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Actin in 2010 (CVSSA), which mandated various safety features including the implementation of automatic passenger overboard systems, the cruise industry has been slow to adopt this technology. Many cruise lines continue to rely on traditional safeguards like railings, reports from the crew and family members, and unmonitored surveillance systems. These solutions cause delays in discovering a passenger in the water so that the passenger is washed out to sea, drowns or suffer hypothermia before a search and rescue attempt can be initiated.
Two recent incidents that involved passengers falling overboard demonstrate the consequences of cruise lines delaying the process of adopting automatic man overboard systems. A passenger fell overboard earlier this month from a ship operated by Disney, which is one of the few cruise lines to adopt this technology. The passenger fell overboard from the Disney Dream during a four-day Bahamas cruise in the early even hours of May 4, 2017. The man overboard system immediately alerted staff who summoned the Coast Guard. The man was rescued approximately ninety minutes after his plunge into the water. The reasonably prompt response resulted in the man being rescued and treated by medical personnel.
Tragically, the Golden Princess cruise ship which is operated by another cruise line did not have the same technology. A passenger fell overboard on May 5, 2017 during his 13-day cruise in the South Pacific. The disappearance of the passenger did not come to light until a ship steward became worried about his whereabouts. At this point, a search of CCTV surveillance footage was initiated, but the lack of an immediate warning caused the loss of valuable time in conducting a rescue attempt.
Because of the slow progress of the cruise industry in adopting automatic man overboard systems, U.S. Representative Jim Himes and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal have proposed the Cruise Passenger and Protection Act (CPPA). The law buttresses the authority of the CVSSA by mandating implementation of automatic electronic warning systems to detect overboard passengers and provide video capture images. The law also implements other safety features, which include allowing cruise lines to be held liable for fatalities at sea by permitting family members to obtain fair compensation like passengers traveling by commercial airlines.
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While it is unclear how many of the people who have died in man overboard incidents during cruises might have survived with the implementation of this technology, there is no doubt that the tardiness of the cruise industry has cost lives. Although these cases are challenging, our Florida cruise injury attorneys have the experienced and expertise you need to pursue the fullest recovery. Our Miami personal injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to pursue the results you desire. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.