Does jurisdiction affect legal action after an injury on a cruise ship in Miami Florida?

Mar 3, 2020 3:00 AM ET


Injuries that occur on cruise ships are similar to those that occur on land, aside from incidents involving overboard fall situations, or drowning.  However, passenger tickets play a significant part in attempts toward legal action, as they may include language that restricts venue for a personal injury claim which could be complicated since many cruise ships are not registered in the United States.  Some impose a shorter statute of limitations at one-year versus the maritime law statute of three years.  Many cruise ships sail under the flags of Liberia or the Bahamas under a flag of convenience because there is are added tax, employment and labor law benefits. A passenger may not give a second thought to where a cruise ship is registered, or care about international aspects regarding a cruise ship’s operation, but jurisdiction is important if legal action becomes a necessity due to an injury occurring on a ship. 

Vicarious liability.

Cruise ship medical care has become more passenger “rights” centered moving away from vicarious liability, when the actions of a health professional aboard a cruise ship cause harm or injury to a passenger. In the past the tort doctrine that imposes responsibility upon one person for the failure of another, with whom the person has a special relationship (such as Parent and Child, employer and employee, or owner of vehicle and driver), to exercise such care as a reasonably prudent person would use under similar circumstances would give certain protections to medical personnel aboard ships, but that trend has changed and the responsibility of the healthcare provider’s actions has a more direct legal impact on them in these situations.  An important part of protecting legal rights of passengers is understanding the jurisdictional issues that may arise.

Common injuries.

Injuries aboard cruise ships include slips and falls, fires, being struck by objects falling from higher decks, being struck by golf balls, food poisoning, assault by crew members, other passengers, and other causes. Accidents and injuries on cruise ships come about in a variety of ways:

The “slip and fall” incident is claimed most often due to a passenger losing footing because of obstacles, debris, flooring or object on a corridor or stairway.
Falling objects from upper decks such as bags, drinks or toys due to number of decks and balconies on ships today.
Onboard fires can break out due to equipment failure, ignition of solvents, or ignition of debris.
Passengers may be injured as a result of a fire because of trampling if the exits are not coordinated by a ship’s, or someone could get hurt abandoning ship in a serious fire situation. Burns can also result of a ship fire. 
Recreational activities that involve sports, dancing, swimming or drinking can result in injury.
Sickness caused by the actions of ship’s crew may also be cause for a claim, based on food poisoning or unhygienic situations.

Regulatory laws.

Safety regulations under the United States Coast Guard and Safety of Life at Sea Treaty (SOLAS) outline actions to prevent injury and death at sea.  If you or a loved one is injured on a cruise ship, seek legal counsel to learn more about how to file a claim and what  your rights are regarding fair compensation for injuries or damages sustained. 

Hire an attorney.

Seek effective legal counsel who has maritime law and personal injury experience at the Madalon Law Offices in Miami.  Call for a consultation regarding legal claims after a cruise ship accident.

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