Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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While this blog tends to focus on cruise injury claims involving passengers, seamen employees also can pursue personal injury claims while working aboard a cruise ship.  While the language of the passenger ticket contract is used to curtail the rights of guests and tip the scales of justice toward the cruise company, certain provisions in crew member employment contracts achieve the same objective toward seamen on cruise ships.  In this blog, our experienced cruise ship injury lawyers analyze a recent court decision that addresses the right of crew members on cruise lines to seek remedies in the U.S. Federal Court System despite a conflicting arbitration clause in the crew member’s employment contract.

The arbitration clause in the case presents a common scenario for many seamen employed on cruise lines because it required that legal claims between the employee and the cruise line be litigated in a foreign location under foreign law.  Cruise lines rely on a treaty referred to as the New York Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards.  This treaty authorizes cruise lines to force employees to submit personal injury claims to arbitration when a written contract contemplates foreign performance or litigation between citizens of two different states.  However, the treaty indicates that a court of competent jurisdiction can determine if the arbitrator’s decision is unenforceable based on public policy. Continue reading →

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Our cruise ship lawyers recognize that the challenges in pursuing legal claims for medical malpractice aboard a cruise ship can be a daunting task.  Cruise lines and ship medical personnel often structure their contractual relationships and take advantage of legal procedures and requirements to avoid liability.  In this blog, we examine an appellate decision in a medical malpractice case that left the plaintiff with essentially nowhere to pursue a lawsuit against the ship’s doctor personally.  The trial judge even observed that the doctor had engaged in “nefarious” conduct to ensure that he could not be sued in any court for his medical malpractice.

In Taylor v. Gutierrez, the plaintiff was a passenger on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship.  The plaintiff began suffering intense abdominal pain, so she was taken to the ship’s medical facility to be examined.  The ship’s doctor diagnosed the passenger with gastritis, which is a relatively minor medical condition.  The passenger’s condition became worse, which led to her hospitalization in Mexico.  The patient subsequently discovered that her abdominal infection had been misdiagnosed.  Her worsened condition necessitated abdominal surgery to treat multiple organ failures caused by sepsis.  She also experienced a cerebral hemorrhage. Continue reading →

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While most people would not elect a cruise as their vacation of choice without the confidence that the vessel has adequate medical facilities, a qualified doctor, and other medical personnel, a recent media report reveals the presence of medical professionals might create a false of security.  ABC News recently reported that a nurse pretending to be a doctor worked for ten months on the Carnival-owned cruise ship Aidavita.  During his time as a bogus doctor on the ship, the nurse administered an astounding 1,300 treatments to passengers.  The fake physician also administered infusions or injections on 21 occasions during his time onboard the ship.  In this blog, our cruise ship injury lawyers examine the potential liability of the cruise ship for medical malpractice if the phony doctor harmed patients.

According to media reports, the doctor had a fake medical license that he used to obtain his positions as a doctor.  The cruise company apparently took the nurse’s word that he was a physician rather than conducting a background check to confirm the doctor’s credentials and standing in the medical community.  The failure to verify the phony doctor’s professional licensing is particularly troublesome because this can be done in a couple of minutes through an online database in most states.  In other words, the most basic form of due diligence by the cruise company would have protected passengers from being treated by the fake doctor. Continue reading →

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When you saved and planned to take your family on a cruise vacation, you probably anticipated great food in massive quantities, unlimited forms of recreation, and top-notch entertainment.  You probably did not contemplate experiencing serious injury because of the negligent conduct of a crewmember and the cruise line.  Although the vast majority of cruise passengers escape from their time on the high seas without incident, many people suffer serious injuries each year.  As you prepared for your cruise, you probably did not seek legal advice because you did not realize you agreed to a long, detailed contract with many unfavorable provisions.  Many passengers never bother to look at the back of their cruise ticket while those that do rarely try to wade through the dense legalese.  Our Miami cruise accident attorneys have highlighted several common provisions in cruise contracts that merit careful consideration by travelers.

Horrible Medical Care Is Not Our Problem: While the medical care on most cruise ships is perfectly acceptable, most passenger contracts include a provision stating the cruise line is not responsible for medical malpractice committed by its physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel, or staff.  The language is designed to constitute a waiver of liability of the cruise ship when substandard medical care causes serious injury or wrongful death.  The cruise line also will claim that medical personnel, who make errors or omissions, are independent contractors rather than employees to evade liability.  An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer understands that being relegated to suing the physician, who often will not be a citizen of the U.S. or subject to jurisdiction in the U.S., will be less desirable because the doctor will have far less insurance coverage than the cruise line.  Our lawyers have the experience and expertise to avoid these potential legal pitfalls. Continue reading →

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Our cruise ship attorneys remind cruise ship passengers that when you are on the high seas, you are completely at the mercy of the captain and the crew. You expect that cruise lines hire competent medical personnel to treat sick or injured passengers. Cruise lines have a lot to lose if they do not hire qualified physicians and other assistants. The last thing a cruise line wants is a reputation for not treating their passengers properly. Until recently, however, cruise lines were not necessarily liable for the medical malpractice committed by the ship’s physician and his staff.  This development in the law, at least as it relates to the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (of which Florida is a member), permits victims of medical malpractice on the high seas to sue the cruise line rather than just the physician.

The case that brought about the change was Franza v. Royal Caribbean. In that case, the plaintiff’s father was an elderly passenger on a Royal Caribbean ship. He fell and struck his head very hard while boarding a trolley shortly after the cruise liner docked at a port in Bermuda.  A crew member from the ship wheeled the plaintiff’s father back on board the vessel and brought him to the sick bay for medical treatment. No doctor treated the plaintiff’s father at the sick bay. Instead, a nurse came by and examined the plaintiff’s father’s head. The nurse failed to order diagnostic testing despite reasoning that the man had a concussion. The nurse suggested that the man’s wife pay close attention to her husband’s condition and call back if his condition worsened. Continue reading →

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Recently, a federal court of appeals opened the door for medical malpractice claims against cruise line companies. Historically, state and federal courts have held that passengers cannot sue a cruise ship’s medical personnel for medical malpractice. With this recent ruling, plaintiffs may now be able to recover for such claims.

In Franza v. Royal Caribbean, Ltd., a passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean ship was traveling with his spouse and children when he fell while boarding a trolley by the dock on a stop in Bermuda and suffered severe injuries to his head. Instead of being referred for medical services on the shore, the ship required him to go to the medical facility on the ship for treatment. A ship nurse examined the passenger and advised him that he was ok to go back to his cabin. However, hours later, the passenger’s family called for emergency assistance, and it took staff nearly twenty minutes to come and bring the passenger to the ship infirmary. Additionally, the medical staff on board refused to examine the passenger until the family provided credit card information. Continue reading →

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