Passenger Claims in the Event of a Cruise Ship Accident
For more than 10 years now, the cruising industry has continued to be a very lucrative business. Every year, more than 11 million passengers from the U.S. alone make cruise holiday reservations, some even as early as six months before the cruise schedule (this is to avail of all the perks and discounts). Two major reasons that explain the continuous increase of passengers are the exotic and beautiful cruise destinations and the major improvements on cruise ships, which virtually turn these floating luxury vessels into mini cities that guarantee incredible fun and comfort.
Being on any of the largest and modern cruise ships is already an experience to cherish. Because unlike the old vessels, many of today’s cruise ships are designed with a duty free shop, bars, pubs and nightclubs, buffet restaurants, an aqua health spa a fitness center, hair and beauty salon, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with water slides, cinemas, casino, gym, basketball courts, pool tables, ping pong tables, and other sports facilities, a library, a mini golf course, wall climbing and zip line facilities, and so forth.
With some ships able to accommodate as many as 3,000 passengers per cruise (not counting crew members yet) plus all the possible risks of injuries due to accidents, violence or abuse, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has ordered on all its members strict compliance with all international, flag and port state requirements, standards and regulations in order to guarantee safety and security of all passengers; this includes compliance with the laws enforced by the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard.
Additionally, all cruise ships built from 2010 onwards should meet the “Safe Return to Port requirement.” This means it should have crew members trained and skilled to act on times of emergency and danger and that the cruise ship itself should be equipped with all the necessary devices, facilities and equipment that will ensure the safe return of all passengers and crew back to port.
While it is true that cruise ship tragedies rarely occur, if one occurs, though, then the effects can be devastating. The usually identified causes of injuries at sea are hurricanes, sea storms, rogue waves, collision with another sea vessel, running aground, striking an iceberg, attack by sea pirates, virus outbreak and fire which, particularly, has been the most common type of cruise ship accident.
A fire onboard can leave a cruise liner floating in the sea without power, air-conditioning and/ or a working septic system. Most fires start in the engine room, due to a leak in the fuel oil return line; however, there have also been instances when the start of a fire can be traced to the generator room, boiler room or one of the cabins.
As explained by The Vucci Law Group, P.A., in the event of an accident, filing of a civil lawsuit for the compensation that a victim may be legally allowed to claim will not be simple. This is because besides the statute of limitation (the duration of time within which the lawsuit will need to be filed), there is also the concern of jurisdiction, which means a lawsuit cannot just be filed anywhere.
Cruise ships indicate in their ticket contract a forum selection clause. This identifies the place where a lawsuit may be filed (to this end, many cruise liners name the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida). If an accident has occurred on land, during a shore excursion, however, then the details leading to the filing of a lawsuit can change altogether. Thus, due to the complexity and unique conditions of the maritime law, being represented by a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the legal issues affecting cruise ships may be necessary, especially if the injured victim is not a resident of the state where the lawsuit has to be filed.