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Did Your Latest Vacation Leave You Hurting? Here’s How to Navigate a Cruise Ship Accident

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 100 million people sailed the seas between 2005 and 2011. Since 2005, there have been 448 major accidents.

Most people view taking a vacation on a cruise ship as a fun experience. There’s food, entertainment, and you can travel to several destinations without changing your room.

But when a cruise ship accident occurs, the fun stops. According to cruise ship accident statistics, in 2017 alone, 17 people fell overboard.

Many victims of cruise ship accidents aren’t sure where to turn when it happens to them. Keep reading to learn where to start if you were injured on a cruise ship.

Read Your Ticket After a Cruise Ship Accident

Most people don’t bother to read the fine print when they sign up for a cruise. After all, who expects to be injured or become the victim of a crime?

But, due to poor judgment, poorly skilled staff, and bad behavior of staff or another passenger, problems can and do arise. If you read your cruise line ticket, you’ll notice that it contains a number of provisions.

These provisions will directly impact you if you’re the victim of personal injury or wrongful death while cruising. Most provisions include time bar limitations, forum selection clauses, waivers of liability, and independent contractor notices.

Some clauses are enforced while others aren’t.

Time Bar Limitations

As with most other types of personal injury claims, there is a time limitation. Most require that you file a suit within one year from the date of the accident.

However, there have been cases where the doctrine of equitable estoppel was applied. This doctrine is not applicable in cases where the cruise line advised the passenger prior to the filing of the suit.

The Forum Select Clause

The majority of major cruise lines are based in South Florida. The forum selection clause requires that a suit must be filed in a specific jurisdiction. It also must be tried in federal rather than state court.

This can make filing a suit against a cruise line a bit trickier if you aren’t a resident of the state the cruise ship is based in. A good attorney in that state can help handle your case.


Some cruise ships want you to sign a document releasing them from liability for personal injury or wrongful death caused by their negligence. This includes bringing the case before a jury.

However, 46 U.S.C. §30509 prohibits a cruise line from doing this. This statute is limited to cruises that include at least one US port. It also only applies to the vessel’s owner, operator, master or ship’s agent.

Determining Jurisdiction

Another issue to contend with is that there may be multiple laws governing the case. Much of it depends on where you were when the accident occurred.

If you were injured in a tender accident, the case may belong to Florida, international or Bahamian law. It may also be a combination of all three.

Determining who is liable can be tricky. A knowledgeable maritime attorney can help you sort it out in a timely manner.

Standard of Care

If your claim as a passenger is based on negligence, it is your responsibility as the injured party to prove negligence in order to receive a settlement.

Negligence is showed by proving that the ship’s owner owed you a duty, that the duty was breached, the breach caused the injury, and damages were suffered as a result.

We Can Help

A cruise ship accident can be traumatizing and painful. Your injuries may last long after the cruise has ended.

And it can be difficult to deal with everything on your own. We can help. Contact us and we’ll review your case for free.