Legalities to Know About Cruise Ship Accidents
Cruise ships or ocean liners are a way for many people to spend vacation time or travel the world. Unfortunately, passengers can sustain a number of injuries while on the cruise. Similarly, crewmembers working to provide the best services for their passengers can also be injured on the job. A cruise ship accident is often very complex due to the different laws that may apply. Ocean liners operate on water and therefore legalities are governed by a number of laws and regulations including all the different state laws, law of the seas and environmental regulations. Therefore, handling an injury case occurring while at sea is much more complicated than handling other injury claims that clearly fall within state jurisdiction.
One of the biggest areas of cruise ship law is personal injury. Handling a personal injury claim for an accident sustained on a ocean liner is similar to that on land. However, the fact that these accidents may take place on international waters where agreements and laws do not apply to the claim, requires analysis of another layer of legal complexity. Different laws may apply depending upon where the incident occurs on the trip itself. Therefore, it is usually absolutely necessary to seek legal advice from a lawyer with specific knowledge of several types of laws relating to the seas, ports and international waters.
Learn Different Types of Law That May Apply to Cruise Ship Accident Injuries
The first level of analysis when dealing with a personal injury while on a boat is to determine the law that applies to that particular claim/lawsuit. The inquiry is extremely fact specific. In some instances dispute may arise over which law applies to a particular personal injury scenario. On the large however, ocean liner companies require each passenger to sign a contract with a choice of law provision that dictates where a suit must be followed and what laws apply to the relationship. Generally speaking, several laws could apply in the absence of a contract to the contrary or if the contract is void or not applicable. These include:
- The laws of the waters (where the accident occurred);
- The nationality of the vessel (the flag state of the ship where the ship is registered as required of international law);
- Maritime Laws (which is a body that governs the relationship between private entities operating vessels on the oceans along with domestic maritime activities’ laws and private international law);
- The laws of the persons injured (if you were from California, will California's laws govern your case?); and/or
- The laws of the port of origins.
As you can see, it is a complicated legal analysis that potentially requires contract review and case specific analysis to determine what law applies to a personal injury claim while on a boat in port, at sea and in international waters. Again, it is reiterated the importance of seeking attorney advice on how to proceed if you or a family member is injured or killed in an accident while on a cruise ship. If you have sustained any of the following injuries of varying harmful nature, be sure to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the best course of action. Common types of injuries sustained by passengers include but are not limited to:
- Slipping and breaking an ankle, knee or hip;
- Various injuries during a shore excursion;
- Sexual assault/battery; and/or
- falling from an unsecured railing to another deck or into the water.
Massive Cruise Ship Catastrophe Incident Fires and Sinking
Occasionally an entire boat or ocean liner will catch fire and/or sink. Those passengers aboard are subjected to the trauma while trapped on the liner and possibly injuries sustained while trying to save their lives and the lives of others. If you or a family member has died or escaped a major catastrophic cruise ship fire or sinking incident, call The Napolin Law Firm for immediate support and legal remedy assistance.
Contractual Ways Cruise Ship Companies Protect Their Interests
As previously mentioned, companies protect their interests with contractual provisions that can override default choice of law and jurisdiction analysis. Read the contract before you go on that boat! Here are common ways companies use contracts to protect themselves from lawsuits from their clientele.
- The cruise ship ticket: this deals with the ship’s operator liability and the location for where a lawsuit may be filed. This information will be in the back of your ticket. The moment you purchase the ticket, you have legally consented to its terms.
- Limited liability waiver: which is a clause releasing the operator from liability for emotional distress.
- The forum-selection or venue clause: this clause provides the location (state) in which a lawsuit is filed. Often, the venue is Florida given the fact that the majority of the cruise lines are headquartered there.
- The notice-requirement clause: provides that for an injured passenger to recover for damages, he/she must file their claim in the period specified in the contract. For Personal Injury claims, maritime laws allow 3-year statute of limitations. However, the clause may shorten that period for 12 months for physical injuries, and even days for nonphysical.
How to Proceed in the Face of Cruise Ship Injury
If you were a passenger on a cruise ship, the first thing you will have to do is figure out which law applies to your case. However, a number of cruise lines pre-select their laws and venues to apply to any accident that may occur on board. Therefore, contact an attorney to help with this analysis. But if you were a crewmember, your likelihood to be injured on the cruise is much bigger than the likelihood of passengers being hurt. The US government issues a statute that protects crewmembers and assure their compensation for injuries sustained on the cruise. The federal statute is called the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C 30104. However, this statute is complex and strictly constructed which makes injury cases difficult to prosecute. There are other laws that pertain to injury claims sustained by crewmembers such as the maritime laws. But maritime laws usually favor ship owners over crewmembers making prosecuting such cases more challenging. Seek the help of a maritime workers' compensation law firm.
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How Napolin Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers Help
The Napolin Law Firm has extensive legal resources to prosecute all types of accident injury cases. This includes the knowledge necessary to represent you or your family for a loved one's death or serious injury while at sea or in port. If you need help, we are here to help you with guidance on what to do next after a horrible incident.
Talk to a personal injury attorney today by contacting our offices at 909.325.6032. Free consultations for victims of injury at sea are available with our firm over the phone or in person. Do you need to speak directly to an attorney today? Do not settle for wait time or non-attorney advice from certain Los Angeles firms. Our firm is here serving Orange County, San Bernardino County and San Gabriel Valley areas. Obtain representation from a local law firm with big firm power and resources.