The Shipping Act of 1984 [46 U.S.C. §1702 (6)] establishes that cruise ships originating from U.S. ports are considered common carriers and owe their passengers an enhanced duty of care by acting with the utmost skill and diligence to ensure they will safely arrive at their destinations and return home safely. If you were injured while in the care of a cruise ship, it is imperative that you hire a seasoned cruise ship accident attorney to protect all of your compensation rights and benefits.
A large number of rules, regulations, contracts, statutes, and jurisdictions come into play in cruise ship accidents. A timely investigation can make the difference between proving your claim or case or having it “lost at sea.” The Kaplan Lawyers PC team has decades of experience in the fields of admiralty and maritime law. We understand all of the intricacies involved – and how they must be delicately negotiated – when it comes to claims of injury on the high seas.
Frequently Asked Questions for Cruise Ship Accident Cases
Do I need an attorney to handle my claim?
You don’t HAVE to have one. But the cruise line’s insurance company has an army of attorneys, claims specialists, and experts to defeat your claim or case. So, in order to win your rightful compensation, an attorney who specializes in maritime law can be a favorable game-changer.
How long do I have to bring a claim?
The statute of limitations (or time in which a claim must be brought from the date of the accident) can’t be determined until confirmation of the venue (the state or country where the claim must be brought). This is determined by the travel contract and/or accident location. The time to bring a claim can be as short as a few weeks after your injury. So consult an attorney immediately.
Do I have to pay any legal fees if I lose my case?
Not with our attorneys. We work on a contingency basis. This means if we don’t win your claim or case, we don’t get paid.
How much is my case worth?
Would you trust a mechanic who tells you how much it would cost to fix your car, sight unseen? Of course not. If any attorney tells you they know how much your claim is worth before reviewing all documentation and the circumstances surrounding your case, the lawyer is either incompetent or being untruthful with you.
How long will it take to settle my case?
Every case is different. Your legal team must utilize the most advanced technology and aggressive legal strategy to expedite your case. The more experienced your legal team, the faster it can be resolved in your favor, hopefully within a few months.
What types of cases do you handle?
We have handled every possible cruise line accident claim. They can happen anywhere on board ship: gangways, getting on or off tenders, and during off-ship excursions. The causes can center on outright negligence of the crew, slips and falls, failure of the boat and/or equipment, insufficient safety devices, spoiled or improperly prepared food, viruses, criminal activity of the crew and failure to warn of any of the above (or more) safety threats.
Is the cruise line responsible for my security 24/7?
Generally, yes — certainly while you’re aboard ship. When you disembark at ports of call, many lines will have sanctioned tours and other functions provided by local companies. The cruise line can be liable for passenger safety under certain conditions; and they certainly have a duty to warn you if they are not. And though their exposure is even less if you decide to “go off the beaten path” while you are onshore, it is still their duty to closely communicate with law enforcement and warn you of anything the authorities tell them which impacts your safety while onshore.
What if we are the victims of some foodborne illness?
Generally the same rules of security apply to this question as well. The cruise line is liable for all events while you’re aboard ship; additionally, they are responsible for the actions and behavior of their contracted vendors onshore through “respondeat superior” (which is Latin for “Let the superior answer”). And as to when you, as an onshore visitor, go “off the reservation,” the cruise line has a reasonable duty to communicate with onshore authorities and advise you of food problems (such as restaurants) they are aware of.
How will my medical bills get paid?
Your medical bills are submitted to the insurance company for the cruise ship. If they exceed the cruise ship’s coverage, your private health insurance might pay the difference and then likely take the matter up with the shipping line. If you do not have health insurance – or your insurer refuses to pay – your medical bills are submitted as a “special damages” item as part of your claim against the cruise ship.
What do we have to prove to win the case?
Like any personal injury claim, you must prove duty of care and liability on the part of the cruise ship line, that they breached that duty, and that their negligent acts caused the injury.
Does it help if I have pictures of the location where the accident happened?
ALWAYS! Pictures are often the most compelling evidence in proving your case. Accident scenes can change within hours after the mishap. And try getting in contact with all witnesses on a cruise ship after it returns home and they all scatter to the wind. So if you have photographs, be careful to safeguard them; record all witness interviews with your smartphone.
Does it make a difference if someone else was injured due to the same condition?
Yes. A prior incident – or other cruise ship passengers who suffered injury on your voyage – can help prove that the owner knew of the dangerous condition(s) and that there was a pattern of negligence by the cruise line.
Is it OK that I gave a statement at the time of the incident?
Yes. An incident report given to legal authorities is proof that the accident happened. However, it is NOT a good idea to give any statements directly to the insurance company before speaking with an experienced injury attorney.
The cruise ship lawyers of Kaplan Lawyers PC have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the seasoning to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach us, please call our Manhattan office (212) 563-1900 or our Long Island office (516) 399-2364. Or contact us online to arrange a free evaluation of your case.
TOP 5 MISTAKES MADE AFTER A CRUISE SHIP ACCIDENT
- Failure to file an accident report
- Failure to obtain pictures of the location of the incident
- Refusal of medical attention
- Speaking directly with the Insurance Company
- Not hiring an experienced attorney who will complete all filings to protect your rights and ensure that you will receive the compensation that you deserve