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For years, ship owners had broad immunity whenever workers on board rendered negligent medical care to passengers. This was true regardless of how clear the shipowner’s control over its medical staff and without consideration for the egregiousness of the claimed negligence. cruiseship

This was largely due to the so-called “Barbetta rule,” named after the 1988 federal case of Barbetta v. S/S Bermuda Star, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

However, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit – the one that oversees federal cases in Florida – recently declined to apply the Barbetta rule in a new case, Franza v. Royal Caribbean Cruises.

It’s not unusual for those vacationing in Florida to seek adventure in trying something new, be it parasailing or scuba diving or even chancing the latest roller coaster ride. Most places that offer these activities require patrons to sign a liability waiver, also referred to in legal circles as an assumption of risk. theclimber

An assumption of risk holds that a participating party knowingly and voluntarily accepted the risk of a particular activity. Sometimes risk can be implied, but when a person signs a waiver, it’s considered to be expressly communicated. Successfully establishing assumption of risk will may allow a defendant to evade liability if a person is injured.

However, our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys also know that just because a person signs a waiver doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have a case. There are many, many cases in which liability waivers are poorly-written, ambiguous and broad. In other cases, the contract may prompt people to sign away the right to sue in the event of intentional negligence. There have als0 been certain instances where it seems not enough was done to bring to patrons’ attention the gravity of what they were signing. In these situations, a judge may find the agreement is “unconscionable,” and refuse to enforce it.

Insurance companies have many ways of limiting liability for coverage of serious illness or injury. One of those involves arguing that injuries sustained by numerous individuals were in fact part of a single occurrence, therefore reaching the per-accident liability limits much sooner.pool3

Our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys know that plaintiffs who can successfully argue that an injury was one of multiple occurrences have the potential to significantly increase the potential payout.

Most often, we see this issue raised when insurance companies attempt to argue a multi-vehicle accident is part of one large crash, whereas plaintiffs argue they were the result of several smaller crashes.

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