Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Safety

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Our first blog post in this two-part series analyzed the barriers to legal compensation in slip and fall lawsuits against cruise companies based on the ticket contract.  While all plaintiffs injured in falls must overcome considerable obstacles, cruise passengers face an even tougher road.  Whether the fall occurs at sea during a cruise under federal maritime law or in a Miami grocery store under Florida state law, the knowledge of the defendant constitutes one of the most critical issues in determining the outcome.  In this post, our Miami cruise injury lawyers examine the challenges that must be navigated even after the obstacles created by the restrictive language in the passenger ticket contract have been successfully handled.

The cruise line will not be liable for a slip and fall accident caused by a hazard on board ship unless the cruise line knew or should have known of the existence of the unsafe condition.  While the specific defense strategies a cruise line will employ will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case, one of the most common tactics used by cruise companies is to claim it lacked the requisite knowledge of the hazard.  Even if the cruise company lacks actual knowledge, constructive knowledge is sufficient.  Constructive knowledge essentially means that the cruise line should have known of the hazard with the exercise of reasonable care.

Although constructive knowledge can be established through multiple approaches, establishing the hazard was present for a long enough time that it should have been discovered and made safe will be the most common approach.  A way that the timeline for the creation or existence of a hazard can be proven involves the use of incident reports from prior slip and falls caused by the same hazard. Continue reading →

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Florida law places significant roadblocks in the path of individuals who are injured in falls on the premises of a resort, hotel, or other commercial business catering to the public.  Maritime and admiralty law, which governs slip and fall and trip and fall accidents at sea, places special barriers in the path of injury victims who experience such injuries while on a cruise.  When these barriers are combined, the prospects of success without a knowledgeable Miami cruise injury lawyer with a track record of successful judgments and verdicts against the major cruise lines are bleak.  In this two-part blog post, we examine some of the barriers that cruise victims must overcome when pursuing a slip and fall accident claim against a cruise company in the context of examples from actual cases.

Passenger Ticket Contract Restrictions on Passenger Rights

The barriers to pursuing a fall-related injury claim against a cruise line begin when passengers purchase their ticket.  For the typical passenger, their ticket is simply a way to establish they have paid for the right to take part in the cruise.  Few travelers take the time to carefully study the contract on the back of the ticket.  However, the ticket contract constitutes a powerful tool used to shield cruise companies from liability and to induce passengers to limit or extinguish valuable rights.  Key provisions in the passenger ticket contract that slip and fall victims must be aware of include: Continue reading →

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Passengers enjoy cruises for many reasons that include a variety of live entertainment, recreational activities, exciting shore excursions, an abundance of good food, and lots of alcohol.  While alcohol consumption might be a featured part of any cruise for many travelers, intoxication increases a passenger’s vulnerability to hazards.  If you or a loved one is injured after selecting this form of travel, the cruise line will certainly raise alcohol use by a passenger as the cause of many accidents.  What cruise injury victims should keep in mind is that alcohol sales constitute one of the most lucrative sources of profit for cruise lines.  Our cruise accident lawyers know from experience that cruise lines often push alcohol sales at the expense of passenger safety.

In this blog, our Miami cruise injury attorneys review a recent case that examines liability of a cruise line for injuries to intoxicated passengers.  A couple traveling onboard the Carnival Dream were served 22 alcoholic drinks over a period of 12 hours.  Because the couple mostly drank Long Island iced teas, the beverages had a high alcohol content.  Evidence was introduced indicating that the evening the husband suffered his fatal fall, he was obviously intoxicated at dinner though he did not exhibit a loss of coordination or slurred speech.  Later that evening, he tumbled off a stool while sitting at the bar inside the ship’s casino.  The husband and wife purchase a final round of drinks approximately an hour after the fall in the casino.  When the wife went into a club, her husband stayed behind to smoke a cigarette.  The husband ends up heading back to his stateroom where he experienced a fatal fall from the balcony onto a lower deck. Continue reading →

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When parents decide to take their family on a cruise, they do not anticipate their children will be exposed to sexual abuse.  Despite these expectations, you might not learn about such incidents from the cruise company when they occur.  In late January, a cruise employee allegedly enticed a teenage girl into performing a sex act.  According to a report by Local 10 News, a waiter aboard the Holland America cruise ship, MS Veendam, was arrested after he had a 15-year-old girl perform a sex act. The employee was charged with a lewd and lascivious act involving a minor.  The news source learned of the incident and reported it to the public.  The tactics used by the cruise line to avoid disclosing the incident focus attention on the difficult task of determining the risk of being the victim of a crime when deciding to take a cruise.

Our Miami cruise accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano know that most people that schedule a vacation on a cruise anticipate that the cruise company will implement adequate security measures.  Passengers also might be inclined to assume that the cruise line will elect to work with tour and recreation providers that screen their employees and adopt appropriate security practices.  Although these beliefs might seem reasonable, people are victims of crimes like rape, sexual assault, sexual molestation and other offenses on cruises each year.  Because certain cruise lines might be lax regarding security measures and protocols, travelers should investigate the security record of a cruise line before making a choice.  This task is not as easy as it might seem because of crime reporting practices in the cruise industry. Continue reading →

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Cruise ships often accommodate 3,000 guests or more. These massive floating cities have significant security needs.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our cruise ship attorneys understand the critical importance of security cameras on cruise ships. Cruise ships are equipped with pools, casinos, restaurants, and numerous other areas that could pose a threat to passengers.  Cruise ship surveillance provides important benefits, such as:

  • Crime prevention: Surveillance cameras can help to deter crimes, including theft and acts of violence. When crimes occur, footage of the incidents will prove important for prosecution.
  • Missing persons: There have been several cases of missing persons on cruise ships, and cameras are often the only way to trace the missing individual.
  • Accidents: Accidents happen on cruise ships and when they do, camera footage of the accident can be critical to determining the cruise line’s liability.

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In 2011, British crew member Rebecca Coriam seemingly vanished without a trace off the cruise ship Disney Wonder.  To this day, the circumstances surrounding Coriam’s disappearance remain shrouded in mystery.  The Miami cruise ship attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have a combined 130 years of experience representing cruise ship accident victims and their families.  We have assisted in many cases with confusing facts that require intense investigations.  Now, we review the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam and Disney’s role in this missing person case.

Coriam Vanishes

On the morning of March 22, 2011, Rebecca Coriam was in the crew lounge of the Disney Wonder as it sailed off the coast of Mexico.  There, a security camera recorded Coriam taking on the phone. She appeared to become upset.  She hangs up the call and leaves the crew lounge.  From there, she has never definitively been seen again.

When a search of the ship found no Coriam, investigations turned to the waters, presuming she had gone overboard.  A detective from the Royal Bahama Police Force flew in to investigate the disappearance because the ship is registered in the Bahamas.  He spent just one day aboard the ship investigating and flew home.

Theories swirled on Coriam’s disappearance, with the captain speculating that a large wave sent her overboard while at the crew pool. Others suggested she fell on the jogging track and went overboard.  Many believed the Disney and Bahamian police knew more about her disappearance than they were letting on.

Rebecca Coriam’s parents also wondered whether she could still be alive. They received a notice from the bank that someone had tried to access Rebecca’s account several months after her disappearance.  They also received a call from someone who stated they were quite positive they spotted Rebecca in Venice with a dark haired man.  Even further, her Facebook password was changed by someone with details about the account. Continue reading →

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Passengers aboard the Celebrity Solstice recently experienced two separate tragic accidents while at port in Tauranga, New Zealand.  First, a bus carrying a group of cruise ship passengers back to the ship was involved in a head-on collision with a car. The driver of the car did not survive.  Some of the passengers sustained minor injuries but were otherwise fine.  Less than an hour later, an American passenger was struck and killed by a truck while on a cycling tour of the city.  The 71-year-old passenger was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.  Our South Florida cruise ship attorneys were horrified to learn of these two tragedies and our thoughts go out to the family members of those involved.

The Celebrity Solstice was launched in 2008.  This luxury ship features a live grass lawn, a 12 deck atrium, and even its own glassblowing studio.  It can accommodate 2,850 people and is 1,041 feet in length.  One of its featured destinations is New Zealand.  Passengers have the option of numerous excursions to enjoy off the ship in New Zealand, including cycling, white water rafting, bush jet boats, and more.

The Tauranga double tragedy is unprecedented. According to the bus company involved in the crash, the bus fleet has never been involved in an accident of this magnitude during its 28 years of operations.  Nonetheless, passengers and the family of the woman killed are distressed by these two alarming events that happened in such a short time. Our Miami cruise ship accident attorneys understand that cruise ship accidents can occur unexpectedly. When a cruise ship accident turns deadly, it is imperative that passengers understand their legal rights. Continue reading →

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As cruise ship injury attorneys we often encounter problems relating to the “fine print” on a passage ticket.  Our clients’ rights and responsibilities are defined by those seemingly inconspicuous paragraphs filled with legalese. Your eyes easily glaze over at the very attempt to read the words that are much more significant than they appear at first blush. We advise our clients to take their time to read and try to understand the fine print before going on a voyage. You can readily forfeit important rights to which you are entitled if you are unaware of the contents of the ticket.

The passage ticket for a cruise line is more than just a notice allowing you access to the ship and a reservation in a stateroom. A passage ticket is a binding contract that is more than a reminder of when the ship departs and from which port. The contract language contained in the ticket is binding on both parties. Although you have not negotiated the specific terms of the contract, you must comply with the terms thereof. For example, you must give written notice to the cruise line within the specified time frame of injuries you suffered on board. Additionally, the ticket commonly binds the voyager to sue within one year from the date of the injury. Some tickets even force you to apply certain laws of a state or country. Lastly, you agree to sue in the court or courts delineated in the ticket even if filing the suit is utterly inconvenient for you. Continue reading →

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As South Florida’s pre-eminent cruise ship injury attorneys, we have handled many cases involving cruise lines that fail to maintain the standard of care they owe to their passengers. Our United States Supreme Court announced the rule of law that cruise lines must follow to protect their passengers while in navigable waters over 50 years ago. The high Court ruled that the owner of a ship owes to all persons on board a duty of reasonable care under the given circumstances.  The cruise ship must have notice of the potential danger, and the danger must be one that is not limited to the dangers of the sea, such as being swept overboard by a rogue wave. Rather, the ship owner has the duty to protect passengers from injuries that occur on the boat that could also occur on land, as long as the danger was not open and obvious. One example is slipping and falling on a wet deck.

The ship owner’s obligation to protect passengers extends to ports and activities at the ports as well. Cruise ships have a duty to warn passengers about dangers they may encounter off the boat. Again, however, the cruise line must have some form of notice of the danger and extends to places where the ship’s passengers are likely to visit. For example, a passenger could get hurt on an excursion sponsored by or associated with the cruise line and be liable for the passenger’s injuries. If, however, the passenger fell into a volcano while trespassing, then the cruise line is not responsible. The example is a bit absurd, but it proves the point.  Continue reading →

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As cruise ship injury lawyers in Miami we have a tremendous amount of experience litigating cases involving personal injuries that occurred on board a cruise ship at sea. Unfortunately, injuries frequently happen on cruise ships.  Cruise lines are liable for a person’s injuries if the cruise ship does not meet the standard. Cruise lines fight tooth and nail to avoid paying a settlement. Consequently, you need to retain a law firm that will work hard to recover the compensation you deserve.

Cruise lines owe their passengers a duty of care while on the high seas. Despite the duty owed to each passenger, cruise lines can get away with causing an injury to a passenger. In the Lombardi case, the passenger and her husband were avid cruisers. They were familiar with the layout of the stateroom after cruising for a couple of days. However, one evening Mrs. Lombardi had to get back into their stateroom in a rush. Mrs. Lombardi rushed into the bathroom, tripped over the raised threshold and fell hard. She sustained injuries from the fall. Mrs. Lombardi could not see where she was going. The stateroom’s lights did not come on automatically upon opening the door. Norwegian Cruise Lines refused to settle the case, and Lombardi filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the District of Southern Florida. Continue reading →

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