Several recent reports have surfaced regarding cruise ship vacations turned sour — with passengers falling ill, drowning, forced to wade through human feces, sexually assaulted or being served spoiled food after waiting in hours-long lines.
In a cruise ship injury lawsuit recently filed by a passenger on one of those voyages, the ship was described as a “floating hell.”
But are these folks entitled to compensation? Cruise ship injury attorneys know the answer is: It depends. The key can be establishing some degree of serious or permanent harm stemming from negligence.
While the conditions of these ships may well have been disgusting, cruise ship passengers may be better off accepting the compensation package offered by the cruise line rather than trying to sue – unless passengers suffered some severe or permanent injuries as a result of the cruise line’s negligence.
Often with cruise line sickness, we’re talking about the highly contagious norovirus, a gastrointestinal sickness which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Cruise lines have unfortunately done a very good job in shielding themselves from liability as a result of these sicknesses. The language in the ticket makes it very tough to sue a cruise line. By purchasing the ticket, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions set forth by the cruise line, and it is considered a binding contract. Essentially, it’s a buyer beware type of situation.
The exception would be if you or a loved one suffers serious or potentially life-threatening injuries or harm on the cruise ship. For example, a passenger who suffered sexual violence at the hands of a staffer may be able to sue for negligent security or staff screening. Another potential cause for litigation would be if you incurred substantial costs in seeking or obtaining appropriate medical care to treat a condition that was caused by the negligence of the cruise line.
In cases where passengers are injured or stricken with illness as a result of outside excursions so frequently offered by the cruise line, it’s important to understand the cruise line may be only partially to blame. That’s because even if the excursion staffers bear cruise company insignia on their clothing, they might still technically be employed by an outside company.
Usually contained in the language of the original ticket is that any litigation stemming from harm on an excursion must be brought against that company.
Additionally, many of the staffers onboard are also subcontractors – from doctors to masseuses. Those providers who are not American nationals often don’t carry insurance.
Still, that doesn’t mean that cruise lines don’t have a duty to undertake reasonable care in ensuring illness and injury is prevented. In cases of an outbreak of illness, a company could be held liable if it is determined that it failed to maintain a certain standard of hygiene protocol. Those measures might include enforcing a quarantine for infected passengers, thoroughly cleaning the ship and potentially ending the trip early.
No matter what kind of injury a passenger incurred, determination for whether a case is winnable can usually be made in the course of an initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you have suffered a Fort Lauderdale cruise injury or illness, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.