What Should I do if I’m Injured on a Cruise Ship?
The cruise ship industry presents itself as the ultimate in vacations. Your “hotel” is a floating party, with mountains of food and endless entertainment, and in case that isn’t enough, you have regular opportunities to disembark and see different parts of the world. As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games… until someone gets hurt.
Just like amusement parks, cruise ships are liable for your injuries if they were caused by the negligence of the cruise ship or its crew. If a loose banister on a back staircase leads to a nasty fall, the cruise line should reimburse you for your injuries. If a leaky pipe makes a floor slippery, the cruise line should be held responsible for your medical expenses if you slip. If a crew member bumps into you with a cart, lacerating your leg, you shouldn’t have to pay for your own stitches and after care.
If you’re injured on a cruise ship, however, there could be worse things in store for you than a ruined vacation. Cruise lines are adept at limiting their liability and at protecting themselves from passenger injury lawsuits, so you must work immediately to protect your rights if you are injured.
Read the Fine Print
The last thing you want to be doing as you prepare for your cruise is to wade through the dense language of the contract of passage booklet. You’d rather choose your excursions and decide which lounges to eat in each night. Be advised, however, that this contract is binding between you and the cruise line, and it very likely limits your rights if you are to be injured during your cruise.
Keep Your Own Records
If you are injured, report it immediately to the crew, and file a report with the medical staff. Tell them what happened and help them treat you so that your health isn’t compromised and so you might be able to return to having fun.
While you’re doing that, however, keep your own notes. Take pictures and video footage of the scene of the accident, with details of loose screws or wet floors that might have caused your injury. Write down the names and addresses of any passengers who witnessed the accident, along with a brief description of what they say they saw. Write down the names and jobs of any crew members you talk to and notes on what you told them. Keep a log of how your injury impacts you during the remainder of the cruise.
Remember that, though you’ll likely see the crew taking notes and writing a report of the accident, their report is designed to help them – not you.
Observe Time Limits and Jurisdictional Limitations
Remember that contract you didn’t want to read? It probably tells you that you have six months to inform the cruise line about your injury – and because you agreed to it (by going on the cruise), if you miss that deadline, you could lose your whole case. You also probably have a much shorter time to file suit – usually around a year instead of the normal four. Most complicated, you probably won’t be able to file at your local courthouse. In fact, regardless of the port you left from, your residence, or the location of the cruise line’s offices, you’ll likely be required to file at a specific court in Florida.