Taking a cruise for your holidays can be a fun way to see new places while on vacation. On the other hand, an enjoyable cruise can quickly turn tragic if passengers or crew members are injured on board. If you were injured on a cruise ship, you need a Personal Injury Lawyer who is committed, compassionate, and professional.

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Find A Personal Injury Lawyer for Cruise Ship Accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), attacks by crew members and accidents suffered onshore excursions account for an average of 2,100 contracts. Since cruise ships legally operate out of foreign countries and injury cases usually include complex maritime law, if you have been involved in a cruise ship crash, your injury claim will most likely be difficult. Since you are not in the United States while you are on a cruise ship, you will need to use legal loopholes to make a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries. This is why you should retain the services of a professional Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles to help you prove your case and secure your rights.

Statistical data

On cruise ships, there are comprehensive reports that describe the accidents and deaths that occur. Each year, approximately 30 million passengers board 272 cruise ships1, and while violence, sickness, and personal injury are statistically low when compared to the number of passengers, many areas have become increasingly concerning in recent years.

  • Since 2005, there have been over 448 major cruise ship accidents recorded.
  • Between 2010 and 2013, 15 cruise ships sunk, and 66 ran aground between 2005 and 2013.
  • Since 2000, more than 300 people have gone overboard, including 17 "man overboard" accidents in 2017.
  • Per year, the FBI investigates up to 100 serious crimes on cruise ships, the majority of which are sexual assaults.
  • According to reports, there are 9-16 outbreaks of gastrointestinal viral diseases on cruise ships each year, with norovirus being the most popular suspect.
  • At least 25 cruise ship voyages have confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, prompting the CDC to issue travel advisories for cruise ships in 2020.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes information on these and other virus outbreaks on cruise ships, as well as recommendations for controlling and preventing virus spread at sea.

Accidents on Cruise Ships and Their Causes

On cruise ships, injuries and disease outbreaks can and do occur. These hazards were often avoidable, sometimes the injured person contributed to their own injury, and in other instances, the corporation, the ship captain, the crew, or fellow passengers were negligent. The following are some of the types of cruise ship sickness or injuries that have been reported:

  • Food poisoning may occur as a result of improper food preparation or storage.
  • Accidents involving broken railings or ladders, which can result in falling overboard.
  • Accidents in the pool or drownings
  • Accidents involving a malfunctioning elevator or escalator
  • Toxic material exposure
  • Unseaworthy vessels that sink, resulting in injuries and deaths.
  • Infected bedbug bites, rat bites, or other illnesses contracted by contact with animals onboard
  • being hit by dropping items that were not secured properly
  • Contracting Legionnaires' Disease, intestinal viruses (norovirus), bacterial infections, or other infectious diseases (such as COVID-19) as a result of poor hygiene or a lack of adequate safety precautions.
  • Being attacked by crew members or fellow passengers, or being wounded while on board as a victim of a crime
  • Fires at sea may cause burns or smoke inhalation.
  • Suffering injuries as a result of being adrift, running aground, colliding with another vessel, or while evacuating
  • Being hurt when participating in ship-sponsored events or excursions
  • Medical malpractice on the part of the ship's doctors or medical personnel

Liability of Cruise Lines

Passengers on cruise ships are entitled to fair treatment. Where practicable, cruise ships must protect their passengers from physical damage, and they must ensure that their passengers arrive safely in port. When cruise ships fail to keep this promise and a passenger is hurt or injured, the cruise liner can be held responsible for any damages. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your Cal Bar Attorney Search.

A lawsuit against the owner, the chartering company, the operator, or the company that sold the ticket may be brought if an accident occurs on a cruise ship. If a third party on the cruise ship caused the accident, the victim would be entitled to file a personal injury claim against that person or organization.

What Do You Do If You Get Hurt While Cruising?

If your accident or disease occurred more than three miles from shore, the International Maritime Organization's guidelines would most likely apply. You can contact an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer right away because when and how you file a personal injury lawsuit against the cruise line would be determined not only by the incident itself but also by the location of the incident.

Consider the following suggestions:

  • Immediately notify the ship's Safety or Security Officer of your accident, sickness, or attack. Allowing fear or shame to keep you from disclosing what happened is a mistake. To log your injury, the cruise line should create a "passenger injury declaration," and you should receive a copy.
  • For medical treatment, go to the Ship Infirmary. Request a copy of your onboard and offshore medical history after seeking first aid and medical attention. Make your or your loved one's health and safety a top priority. Keep meticulous records of all medical costs.
  • Make contact with the relevant authorities. You would need to contact local police forces or even the FBI if a crime was committed. It is preferable to over-report than to fail to report to the appropriate organization, which could differ depending on whether the ship was in port or at sea.
  • Make an argument for yourself. And if you need to consult a cruise ship injury solicitor, do not allow the situation to be treated "under the table" or minimized and ignored by crew members or local authorities. Keep a list of the names and titles of crew members who were involved in the incident or with whom you spoke about it afterward. If you don't get copies of anything, take pictures of the documents with your phone.
  • Document the injuries and the location where they happened with photos or video. Suppose there were some unhealthy conditions, attempt to demonstrate them as plainly as possible. You have the right to a copy of the recording or to make your own if your interview with the Safety Officer or Ship's Doctor is registered.

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  • Use caution while speaking. The cruise line's forms or interviews may ask leading questions or try to transfer blame to the passenger by using your stunning responses as later proof that the injured person shared responsibility for the accident or illness. Give a detailed account of any negligent crew conduct or dangerous ship conditions, but don't take the blame, make excuses, or apologize.
  • Gather documentation and contact details for witnesses. People from all over the world may have seen the accident or the dangerous conditions that led to sickness or injuries on a cruise ship. Gather any witnesses' contact details, recorded statements, and copies of any documentation they may have, such as photos or videos.
  • Speak with a specialist. Your cruise ticket, boarding documentation, and any assumption of danger forms you might have signed in order to engage in ship-sponsored activities all have a lot of fine print. These waivers and disclaimers are designed to protect the cruise line as it exercises its duty of responsibility for the safety and well-being of its passengers. There may have been negligence that contributed to a passenger's accident or sickness in order for a personal injury complaint to be filed.
  • Don't put off taking action. You will have less than six months to report a cruise ship sickness or accident and one year to file a lawsuit. If you're on the fence or aren't sure if you have a case, seek legal advice from an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer.

Your Legal Rights Are Limited

Passengers on cruise ships are often required to sign lengthy documents that restrict their legal rights if they are injured. Your contract most likely stipulated that any personal injury, wrongful death, or civil negligence lawsuit must be filed within a certain time frame and in a specific location. Regardless of where the ship left port, several cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, require all passengers to file litigation in California. In most cases, you will have six months to inform the cruise line in writing of an accident and twelve months to file a lawsuit.

What Happens If You Get Sick or Injured On A Cruise Ship?

Cruise lines have a responsibility to keep the ship in a relatively safe condition and to correct unsafe conditions that they knew or should have known with due care. They also provide liability insurance to cover the costs of liability lawsuits that may arise as a result of injuries, shoddy security practices, or other breaches of duty.

A standard personal injury lawsuit against a cruise line goes like this:

  • Based on the distance offshore where the negligence occurred and other factors, a Personal Injury Lawyer examines the facts of the case to decide whether federal, local, or foreign laws apply.
  • The next steps will be informed by a Personal Injury Lawyer's examination of the case's medical history, costs, and reports, as well as a complete accounting of the damages, expenses, and long-term medical effects of the disease or injury.
  • As soon as the injured person has achieved "Maximum Medical Improvement" and the long-term effects can be fairly assessed, a demand letter can be written, or mediation negotiations can begin.
  • If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will likely proceed to trial, with a personal injury claim being brought and a discovery process begins.
  • During this process, the parties can order or request mediation in order to continue attempting to negotiate a settlement.
  • If mediation sails, the case will go to trial, where a judge will hear the facts and make decisions on the victim's compensation based on the relevant laws.
  • In the midst of the storm, finding a safe port.

If you and your family have returned from a cruise and are dealing with medical conditions, missed earnings, or the pain and sorrow that comes with the loss of a loved one, a Personal Injury Lawyer will help you and your family get back on solid ground.


Negligence on a cruise ship, like any other type of personal injury accident, can take several forms. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, a variety of individuals, including individual employees or the cruise line itself, can be held liable for an injury and the damages incurred as a result of the injury. Some of the most common types of negligence can lead to injuries. Other injuries can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Inadequate defense
  • Health professionals with insufficient training
  • A navigational mistake
  • Machine Error
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Walking surfaces that have not been properly washed
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Human errors
  • Personnel who aren't well-trained or haven't been thoroughly examined
  • Lack of personnel
  • There aren't enough emergency procedures or supplies.

Cruise ship negligence may cause the ship to collide with another vessel, tilt, or run aground, as well as cause guests to fall and become ill from food poisoning. If you or a loved one has been injured or sickened on a cruise ship as a result of negligence, an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer will advise you on the appropriate legal course of action.

Coronavirus-Related Cruise Ship Liability

COVID-19 has impacted almost all in the United States, and it is now widely accepted that some people are more vulnerable than others. For example, outbreaks in nursing homes around the country have been among the worst, as the elderly are especially susceptible to infection. Many cruise ships were sailing around the world at the time the virus was declared a pandemic, placing those on board at high risk of infection.

Coronavirus outbreaks on these ships soon made headlines, as many people not only became ill but even died as a result of being stuck on a ship when they became seriously ill.

Operators of cruise ships may have acted irresponsibly.

Simply falling ill while on a cruise ship does not indicate that the cruise line is responsible. In order for a plaintiff or corporation to be held liable in a personal injury case, they must have acted negligently. When it comes to COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships, neglect suggests that the ship's crew did not take good care of their passengers.

If the crew of a cruise ship did everything possible to contain the infection, they are unlikely to be held responsible for any losses that arise. After one case of COVID-19 was found on the ship, for example, the cruise ship workers should have halted all activities, quarantined everyone who was sick, and ordered all other passengers to stay in their quarters. They might be called negligent if they did not do so. The cruise ship crew, on the other hand, could not be held responsible if they did anything possible to avoid the spread of infection.

Claims Involving Cruise Ships Have Issues

If anyone was infected with the coronavirus aboard a cruise ship or was involved in some form of accident, pursuing lawsuits against cruise ship companies is often challenging. People who want to file a lawsuit should be mindful of two major issues.

The first is that cruise ships typically fall under maritime law's jurisdiction. Many people are unaware that maritime law differs significantly from California's personal injury rules. Maritime law can also exclude the cruise ship from liability, depending on the circumstances. Your Personal Injury Lawyer will assist you in determining if you have a lawsuit.

Another major issue with filing a lawsuit against a cruise ship operator is that all cruise ship tickets require a disclaimer. People seldom file complaints against cruise ship companies because of these disclaimers. It is important that all passengers realize that, while these disclaimers can hold up in court, they do not offer complete protection in the event that the cruise ship company or its employees are negligent.

Liability and Duty of Care

Cruise ships are classified as "common carriers" in general, which means they have a "special responsibility" to their passengers beyond due care. Cruise ships must take extreme precautions to protect their passengers from physical damage. They also have a responsibility to ensure that their passengers arrive safely at the terminal. When a cruise liner fails to fulfill this obligation, and a passenger is injured as a result, the cruise liner may be held responsible for any damages incurred.

If you are injured on a cruise ship, you may file a lawsuit against the ship's owner, the company that charters the trip, the company that operates the ship, or the company that sold the cruise ship fare. In addition, if a third party on the ship caused the accident, the survivor will be entitled to file a personal injury claim against that person or organization.

Rape and Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships: Liability

Passengers on cruise ships are entitled to safe transportation, which requires immunity from rape and sexual harassment while on board. To ensure the safety of their passengers, cruise ships must adhere to certain laws that are understood and agreed upon in both the cruise and security industries. To protect passengers on a cruise ship from rape or sexual harassment, the liner should:

  • Keep an eye on the behavior of the crew and those on board the ship.
  • Install surveillance cameras.
  • Perform background checks on candidates.
  • Maintain a sufficient security staff-to-passenger ratio.
  • Public spaces that are well-lit
  • A cruise liner may be held responsible for the victim's damages if it fails to enforce the duty of care to protect passengers from abuse and rape.

The Duty of Reasonable Care Standard's Exception

A "maritime carrier bears "unconditional responsibility" for its employees' actions against passengers. The respondeat superior doctrine applies when a carrier is held liable for the actions of its crew.

Despite the fact that such an act is beyond the scope of employment, courts have consistently held that a cruise ship operator is solely vicariously responsible for its employees' sexual harassment of a passenger. The courts have determined that there is a unique carrier-passenger relationship that exists and that the shipowner has a non-delegable obligation to protect and transport passengers safely during their voyage.

A plaintiff only needs to show that the sexual harassment by a crewmember happened during the "contractual era" to claim liability. It is not appropriate for the passenger to demonstrate that the crewmember was behaving within the framework of his employment at the time of the sexual attack.

Cruise Operator's Responsibilities

Surveillance Cameras Monitoring Responsibilities

Cruise lines have mounted security cameras in the ships to capture photographs both internally and externally in light of recent publicity and legislation. Although cruise lines claim that this security measure is for passengers' health and safety, a federal court in Miami recently ruled that cruise lines are not required to track the surveillance cameras. Since the shipowner has no obligation to ensure passenger protection, the court held that creating such a duty would greatly extend the doctrine of voluntary assumption of duty.

Investigation and Assistance Responsibilities

Similarly, while cruise ships are quick to investigate, take notes, and interview the injured party and witnesses "in preparation of litigation," courts have consistently held that cruise lines have no obligation to do so. As a result, a cruise ship cannot be held responsible for failing to prosecute or conducting a reckless investigation if the complainant is denied the right to sue a third party for his or her injuries or evidence is essentially ruined as a result of the failure.

Limitations on Lawsuits Involving Cruise Ships

Usually, cruise ship tickets include arrangements outlining the cruise line's scope of responsibility in terms of passenger safety and well-being. It is the responsibility of the traveler to read and understand these rules in order to protect their civil rights if they are harmed while on a cruise.

The contract can stipulate that certain conditions must be fulfilled before a case can be brought. For example, it might be necessary for the passenger to notify the cruise line in writing of their intention to file a claim. This window of opportunity is extremely limited, and it could close in as little as six months. The contract may also stipulate that the case must be brought within a certain time frame, such as one year after the accident.

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Cruise lines have recently begun to include clauses in contracts and tickets that restrict where claims can be made, with many requiring claims to be filed. These essentially mandate that any lawsuit be treated California company, regardless of whether the cruise originated or where the victim resides. These provisions can make it difficult for your Personal Injury Lawyer who isn't familiar with cruise ship accident litigation to handle these cases successfully.

Compensation for Maritime Employees

The majority of maritime workers are aware that their career entails some danger. Some seamen, longshoremen, and offshore workers, on the other hand, may be unaware that maritime laws have existing provisions to assist them in obtaining compensation if they are injured on the job. The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) protects port workers, while the Merchant Marine Act or Jones Act protects seamen and offshore workers.

In cases involving the LHWCA or the Jones Act, a Personal Injury Lawyer will help you if you were injured on the job as a result of negligence or because you operated on an unseaworthy vessel. Maritime compensation claims are complicated and time-sensitive, necessitating the legal expertise of someone familiar with admiralty law.

Death on the High Seas

The death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) was passed by Congress in 1920, and it provides the sole remedy "whenever the death of an individual is caused by unlawful act, negligence, or default arising on the high seas beyond a maritime league from the shore of any state."

The Act does not include a precise description of the high seas, although it is widely assumed that the high seas include foreign countries' territorial waters. Even if the actual death occurs ashore rather than on a vessel, DOHSA applies whenever the original wrongful act or negligence is alleged to have occurred more than a marine league from a U.S. shore. DOHSA has been consistently applied by courts, with the conclusion that the most important aspect is that the alleged wrongful act "consummated" in a real injury on the high seas.

  • Since the DOHSA is the sole remedy for deaths on the high seas, only the damages permitted by the Act may be recovered by the statutorily specified beneficiaries. Each legislative beneficiary is only entitled to compensation for the financial loss he or she has suffered.
  • The elements of non-pecuniary damages that can be recovered under DOHSA are (1) loss of support, (2) loss of services, and (3) loss of inheritance as a result of the decedent's death. Claims for or founded on loss of society, mental anguish, sorrow, or pain and misery, regardless of type or definition, are not recoverable. Punitive damages are also not allowed.
  • When a passenger is killed in state territorial waters, state law remedies and general maritime law survival remedies can be used to compliment and increase the number of recoverable damages.
  • DOHSA cases are heard without a jury in addition to the statutory loss limits.

When It Leads to Wrongful Death

Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of families in California is difficult, and you'll need the help of an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer. It's important to speak with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Your case's discovery cycle, expert retention, and case planning all take time. Furthermore, strict time limits can apply to when and whether you may bring a legal suit for damages.

If you believe a loved one's death was caused by someone else's negligence or wrongful act, you might have a wrongful death case worth pressing for reimbursement.

Who Can Sue In A Wrongful Death Case In California?

When a loved one dies, one of the most important points of clarity about a wrongful death cause of action is communicating who can file a wrongful death case. Only such survivors can be designated to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in certain cases, according to California law.

  • If the deceased person (decedent) was married at the time of death, the spouse or registered domestic partner could file a lawsuit.
  • If the decedent had children, they could file a lawsuit on their behalf. If a child is deceased, the children (grandchildren of the decedent) of that child will file a claim.
  • The decedent's parents could file a lawsuit if the decedent was married but had no children.
  • If the decedent's spouse, children, or parents are no longer alive, the decedent's siblings or other dependents may file a lawsuit.
  • The parents of a minor child who dies may file a lawsuit. If the decedent's parents are deceased, the decedent's siblings will file a claim.
  • Those who may be entitled to inherit property and properties, as well as those who were financial dependents of the decedent, would have the right to file a wrongful death claim in most cases where a will was not drafted by the decedent.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

The term of the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. There can be other factors such as the source and nature of the action that caused death, the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s)' circumstances, and other factors such as the following all play a role:

  • A one-year statute of limitations can apply to medical malpractice lawsuits.
  • A government tort claim should be filed first if a complaint is being brought against a California government agency. These statements have a 180-day limitation period.

Payable Damages for a California Wrongful Death Case

This considers all forms of financial costs and damages, emotional distress, and psychological harm are all recoverable in a wrongful death case. Past, pending, and potential injuries are all included in these damages.

Punitive damages cannot be recovered in wrongful death proceedings in California. They can, however, be rewarded in "survival acts," which enable the estate of the deceased (decedent) to recover economic damages incurred as a result of the incident that led to the death. The solution is for you to prove that the decedent survived the initial accident, even if only for a brief time, before succumbing to his or her injuries.

For the gain of the decedent's estate, survival actions can be combined with wrongful death lawsuits. Any payable damages awarded will be distributed to the estate's heirs.

In a survival action, punitive damages can be paid to the estate to compensate the negligent party or wrongdoer whose conduct caused the death. The monetary reward is intended to discourage anyone from committing malicious or serious wrongdoing in the future.

In a wrongful death claim, being able to determine the value of damages and doing so correctly is crucial. This is primarily accomplished by calculating the monetary value of losses, which includes:

  • Medical and funeral costs
  • The loss of future financial contributions and personal care, nurturing, advice, encouragement, training, services, and inheritance from the decedent.
  • Companionship, warmth, community, relationships, peace, or moral support that are lost as a result of the incident.

In determining and pursuing the amount of money paid in a wrongful death lawsuit, several considerations are taken into account. Expert witnesses (such as economists, psychiatrists, medical professionals, etc.) should be able to determine and prove the case's absolute and fair worth. The decedent's life expectancy, age at the time of death, average earning capacity, physical and medical fitness, character, parental obligations, spending habits, and the beneficiaries' (survivors) current circumstances are possible factors to consider.

Even in cases of stay-at-home parents and unemployed victims at the time of death, you can still quantify the loss of contributions to the household and family (such as the loss of consortium, loss of love, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of community, loss of affection, loss of peace, and loss of moral support).

Find A Cruise Accident and Injuries Lawyer in California

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