Safety and Health Reporter

Cruise Ship Injuries

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Cruise Ship Injuries

Brien Roche

Cruise ship injuries have been the stuff of many headlines. What many people are not aware of is that when they are injured on a cruise ship that does not mean that they have a right to bring a claim in U.S. courts. For instance, in regards to the Costa Concordia grounding off the coast of Italy those people on board had to bring their claims in Italian courts. This was true even though their contracts had been signed in the U.S.

Contracts Governing Cruise Ship Injuries

The contract between the passenger and the cruise line may in part be contained on the actual ticket. The bulk of the contract is on the cruise line’s website.  Within that contract there is a venue clause.The venue clause governs where you must file suit.  Most U.S. cruise lines have federal court venue clauses.

Cruise Ship Injuries-Contracts of Adhesion

Sometimes these cruise ship contracts are referred to as being contracts of adhesion. This means that the cruise line has all of the power. The passenger has few if any rights. In spite of that, these contracts are still upheld by courts asked to enforce them.

Although there are a number of U.S. statutes that are designed to protect consumers in these cases, those statutes may not apply in any legal action brought in a foreign court. For instance, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act calls for ships to be equipped to video people that may fall off of the ship. That law may not apply to claims brought in foreign courts.

Standard Of Care for Cruise Ship Injuries

The standard of care that applies in cruise ship injury cases is reasonable care. The facts prevailing are that the plaintiff is on vacation. In addition the cruise ship knows that the plaintiff may have been drinking. The crusie ship also knows that medical care is limited. All that would support an argument that the cruise ship is held to a heightened standard of care.
Claims based upon medical care onboard ship are a problem. In most cases if the ship owner used reasonable care in picking the doctor then the ship owner is not be held to account for the fault of the doctor. Although an employer is liable for the actions of an employee this is one instance where that may not apply.

Maritime law governs any injury onboard a cruise ship. This applies even if the injury occurs while the ship is docked.  Maritime law also applies if someone is injured on a trip off the ship. The trip must be part of the cruise.
Maritime law provides that cruise lines have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of their passengers.  Maritime law would apply to such events on board as slip and falls, sexual assaults by crew members or other passengers, assault and battery as a result of faulty security or medical malpractice by medical personnel. Contact Us today to discuss your personal injury matter.

Cruise Ship Injuries-Limitations

The statute of limitations for cruise ship injury cases may be short. It may be as short as one year but also may carry with it a notice requirement. That notice requirement may be less than one year. If both the notice limitation and the statute are not complied with then the claim may be barred. Failure to provide the written notice is not always fatal to the claim as in most cases someone will have given notice to ship employees about the injury.

The Contract Is Key

In evaluating claims such as this the contract that came with the ticket must be obtained. This will spell out what the statute of limitations is. It will also state what forum any lawsuit must be filed in. The contract will address whether there is a notice requirement that must be met prior to the filing of suit. 

The contract may state that the Athens Convention governs. This is an international treaty that the U.S. has not joined.  What that does is insulate the carrier from liability unless it can be proved that it acted with intent to cause damage or acted recklessly and with knowledge that such damage would likely result.

The Athens Convention

Although the U.S. has not joined the Athens Convention, there is case law that supports the idea that the limitation on liability may be enforced if the terms were passed on to the passenger and the cruise ship does not touch a U.S. port.  If the cruise ship does touch a U.S. port then the Athens Convention does not apply.  In general, waivers for events on the cruise have not been enforced. There is a U.S. statute that limits waivers.
The Athens Convention does establish a cap on damages.  Since the U.S. has not adopted that treaty those limits do not apply to any ship where the route includes a U. S. port.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Brien Roche is a personal injury attorney with over 40 years of trial experience. Contact Us today to discuss your personal injury matter.

For more information about cruise ships see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Cruise Ship Injuries

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Cruise Ship Injuries

Brien Roche

Cruise ship injuries have been the stuff of many headlines. What many people are not aware of is that when they are injured on a cruise ship that does not mean that they have a right to bring a claim in U.S. courts. For instance, in regards to the Costa Concordia grounding off the coast of Italy those people on board had to bring their claims in Italian courts. This was true even though their contracts had been signed in the U.S.

Contracts Governing Cruise Ship Injuries

The contract between the passenger and the cruise line may in part be contained on the actual ticket. The bulk of the contract is on the cruise line’s website.  Within that contract there is a venue clause.The venue clause governs where you must file suit.  Most U.S. cruise lines have federal court venue clauses.

Cruise Ship Injuries-Contracts of Adhesion

Sometimes these cruise ship contracts are referred to as being contracts of adhesion. This means that the cruise line has all of the power. The passenger has few if any rights. In spite of that, these contracts are still upheld by courts asked to enforce them.

Although there are a number of U.S. statutes that are designed to protect consumers in these cases, those statutes may not apply in any legal action brought in a foreign court. For instance, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act calls for ships to be equipped to video people that may fall off of the ship. That law may not apply to claims brought in foreign courts.

Standard Of Care for Cruise Ship Injuries

The standard of care that applies in cruise ship injury cases is reasonable care. The facts prevailing are that the plaintiff is on vacation. In addition the cruise ship knows that the plaintiff may have been drinking. The crusie ship also knows that medical care is limited. All that would support an argument that the cruise ship is held to a heightened standard of care.
Claims based upon medical care onboard ship are a problem. In most cases if the ship owner used reasonable care in picking the doctor then the ship owner is not be held to account for the fault of the doctor. Although an employer is liable for the actions of an employee this is one instance where that may not apply.

Maritime law governs any injury onboard a cruise ship. This applies even if the injury occurs while the ship is docked.  Maritime law also applies if someone is injured on a trip off the ship. The trip must be part of the cruise.
Maritime law provides that cruise lines have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of their passengers.  Maritime law would apply to such events on board as slip and falls, sexual assaults by crew members or other passengers, assault and battery as a result of faulty security or medical malpractice by medical personnel. Contact Us today to discuss your personal injury matter.

Cruise Ship Injuries-Limitations

The statute of limitations for cruise ship injury cases may be short. It may be as short as one year but also may carry with it a notice requirement. That notice requirement may be less than one year. If both the notice limitation and the statute are not complied with then the claim may be barred. Failure to provide the written notice is not always fatal to the claim as in most cases someone will have given notice to ship employees about the injury.

The Contract Is Key

In evaluating claims such as this the contract that came with the ticket must be obtained. This will spell out what the statute of limitations is. It will also state what forum any lawsuit must be filed in. The contract will address whether there is a notice requirement that must be met prior to the filing of suit. 

The contract may state that the Athens Convention governs. This is an international treaty that the U.S. has not joined.  What that does is insulate the carrier from liability unless it can be proved that it acted with intent to cause damage or acted recklessly and with knowledge that such damage would likely result.

The Athens Convention

Although the U.S. has not joined the Athens Convention, there is case law that supports the idea that the limitation on liability may be enforced if the terms were passed on to the passenger and the cruise ship does not touch a U.S. port.  If the cruise ship does touch a U.S. port then the Athens Convention does not apply.  In general, waivers for events on the cruise have not been enforced. There is a U.S. statute that limits waivers.
The Athens Convention does establish a cap on damages.  Since the U.S. has not adopted that treaty those limits do not apply to any ship where the route includes a U. S. port.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Brien Roche is a personal injury attorney with over 40 years of trial experience. Contact Us today to discuss your personal injury matter.

For more information about cruise ships see the pages on Wikipedia.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation