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 →