Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents/Incidents

If you are injured on a cruise ship, a major hurdle that you may have is filing your lawsuit within the time period provided by law. Cruise ship accident victims are often excluded from bringing negligence or liability claims, based upon having waited too long to file a lawsuit.

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What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a deadline in which a lawsuit can be filed. After that deadline, the lawsuit is forever barred. Different causes of action—negligence, breach of contract, malpractice, etc. – may have different statutes of limitations, and different states have different limitations on each kind of action.

Federal maritime law has a statute of limitation of three years in which a claim based on negligence can be brought. The problem is that federal law explicitly states that parties can change that time frame by agreement.

Cruise lines now almost always have limitations period that are shorter than the three-year period in the cruise contract ticket. And yes—you are assumed to have “agreed” to all the terms in your cruise contract, even if you don’t actually sign it. As long as the language providing a shorter limitations period is there, and you buy the ticket and take the cruise, you’re subject to that limitations period.

Because federal law restricts a contractually based limitations period to one year, that is almost always the restriction on the time period.

If your claim is based on property damage or loss of property, as opposed to injury, that time period can be even shorter—sometimes, a passenger may be required to make a claim within days of the incident.

Additionally, filing a suit against a contractor, or just an agent, who may not be directly employed by the cruise line, may also be restricted by the cruise ticket time limitation.

Exceptions to Contractual Limitations

There have been some exceptions made by courts to the contractual time bar.

Injuries suffered by minor children may not be subject to the restriction. In some cases, passengers who received tickets shortly before boarding, with insufficient time to review the terms, have not been restricted by the time limitation.

Depending on the wording of the ticket, certain kinds of misconduct, such as intentional acts, may not be covered by the limitation.

And, if a cruise line makes affirmative misrepresentations to mislead a passenger into thinking there is more time to file a lawsuit than there really is, the statute of limitations may be extended.  (As an aside, this is a good reason to write down any conversations you may have with cruise employees, executives, or insurance adjusters, if you have had any before hiring your lawyer.)

All this is not to say it’s best practice to wait to file suit—it most certainly is not. Even arguing an exception to a contractual limitations period is an uphill battle. And your cruise contract likely has loads of additional consumer-unfriendly terms (the ill-fated 2012 Costa Concordia had a 6400-word ticket contract) to deal with in addition to limitations restrictions.

If you’re injured at sea, don’t wait. Complex federal laws and contractual agreements may limit your ability to ever recover if you don’t hire an attorney and bring a claim timely. Talk to the Florida cruise ship accident attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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The Washington Post recently published an interesting article about whether or not cruise ships are doing enough to protect passengers, and whether existing regulations are strong enough to ensure passenger safety.

The article describes one passenger who almost drowned in the undertow of a pool on the ship, after going down a large slide. Her sister noticed her struggling, and only after she desperately cried for help did anybody from the cruise staff jump in to help her.

To make up for her accident, Carnival offered her a $100 coupon.

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Industry Tries to Avoid Regulation

The cruise industry has thus far managed to avoid heavy government regulation by “self-regulating,” another way of saying the cat is guarding the henhouse or the wolf is protecting the sheep.

To show it is self-regulating, the cruise industry voluntarily passed its own “Passenger Bill of Rights,” which, while admirable, has no legal authority behind it, and is largely a voluntary “feel good” measure to appease lawmakers.

Despite the P.R. appeal of passing its “bill of rights,” the cruise industry may not be able to avoid Washington intervention. Legislators are still trying to pass a “Cruise Passenger Protection Act,” which would have mandatory safety requirements for cruises,  expanded ability for government investigation of on-board accidents, and would require the reporting of all incidents that happen on a cruise for public viewing.

Regulation is Needed

It is no wonder that such regulation is needed. Cruise ships are now enormous recreation campuses, where the risk of injury isn’t just falling on a slippery floor.

With the addition of pool slides, rock walls, sporting activities, amusement park-like rides, and loads of other types of activities, the cruise line’s obligation to operate safely now goes beyond just traditional maritime activities.

If these kinds of recreational activities are regulated on land, there should be no reason why they wouldn’t be at sea.

Yet, the cruise lines still object to regulation. They contend that there are no more injuries on a ship than there are off the ship, and that the industry is doing enough on its own. They also use the old fashioned trick of threatening price increases—that the safety measures will lead to increased ticket prices.

Still, this argument ignores the fact that passengers injured at sea don’t have the same rights as those injured at an amusement park or similar facility on land. Injuries at sea are often severely limited by the terms of the cruise ticket, as well as by federal maritime laws, and by the extreme difficulty of the possibility of having to sue in a foreign jurisdiction.

The differences are compounded by the often sorely inadequate availability of real medical care aboard a cruise ship.

It is unclear if the law will or will not pass. But until it does, it seems that we may hear more about injuries that happen on cruise ships as they get bigger, with more amenities, even as the laws governing them remain static.

Were you sick or injured at sea or on a cruise? Talk to the Florida cruise ship accident attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. for a free consultation to discuss your rights under maritime laws.

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When you are on a cruise, you are often miles out into the ocean, far away from land. While on the cruise you may be engaging in extreme sports, eating foods you aren’t used to eating, walking on rocking floors, and being in close contact with thousands of other passengers in a closed environment. With the chances of injury or illness being high, you would think that ships were equipped with medical facilities and personnel that were prepared to deal with any kind of medical emergency. Think again.

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Medical Facilities on Cruises

In fact, there is little regulation about what kind of medical facilities must be on board, and medical personnel may be licensed in countries that are not as stringent as the licensure requirements in the U.S.

Most facilities are more like infirmaries, or walk-in clinics than full scale hospitals. Most do not have diagnostic scanning equipment, such as MRIs or CT scans. And if you have a condition that the personnel can’t help you with, they can force you to get off the ship at the next port—which could be in a country that has inadequate medical facilities or doctors (or which your insurance may not cover).

While most cruise ships have simple pharmacies, they are likely to only carry the most basic drugs, and not any specialty or lesser used medications. And what medications you do use, aren’t included in your cruise fare—they’ll be added to your bill.

Malpractice on Cruises

If you are a victim of medical malpractice, and seek to sue for damages, there are a number of issues. The first is service of the lawsuit upon doctors who may live anywhere in the world. Doctors are generally not employees of the ships they work on, and thus, cannot be served by simply serving the cruise ship.

As far as liability, for a long time, the law was established that cruise ships could not be responsible for the malpractice of the on-board doctors, because the doctors were merely independent contractors, and a cruise ship is not in the business of providing medical care. Some courts felt it unfair to hold cruise lines responsible, because the injury in a malpractice cases arises from the relationship between the doctor and the patient, having nothing to do with the cruise lines.

But today, more courts are willing to hold cruise lines responsible for the malpractice of on-board physicians. Many courts accept the fact that while a cruise isn’t a floating hospital, it certainly can reasonably anticipate needing to provide medical care, and in fact the cruise line couldn’t be in business without having some kind of medical facilities on board.

Courts also are beginning to acknowledge that a passenger doesn’t have a choice of doctors or clinics—they must go to the on-board doctor. The lack of options gives the cruise line a heightened responsibility creating more of an agent relationship between cruise and doctor.

Malpractice claims are complex and difficult, and they’re even moreso when there’s a malpractice event at sea. If you are injured at sea, retain attorneys with maritime law experience. Talk to the Florida cruise ship accident attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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On July 24, 2014 a senate Committee Hearing chaired by retiring Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, illustrated the necessity for better enforcement of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act 0f 2010Act. The Bill S. 1340, known as the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, perfects the intent of congress in passing the 2010 legislation. Despite, efforts made by the cruise lines to thwart the passage of this legislation, crime victim advocates and personal injury attorneys such as Miami based lawyer, Philip M. Gerson of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. still pursue justice for passengers on the high seas. Mr. Gerson addressed congress detailing the negligent behavior of the cruise line industry and its trade group, Cruise Lines Industry Association, commonly referred to as CLIA. Mr. Gerson illustrated how cruise ship owners suppress the facts, rather than honestly report them to their passengers. These organizations and individuals alike, boast that its passengers are safer at sea, when this is clearly not the case.

At the senate hearing Mr. Gerson emphasized, how ship security is on board to protect the ship owners, not their passenger customers. Moreover, he pointed out how the legal relationship between the passenger and the cruise line is deliberately written in a way that is difficult to understand. Due to the fact, that the contractual terms which individuals sign are printed in tiny font and using legal and maritime terms that cannot be understood by the average person who takes a cruise, the rights of crime victims on board a cruise are often signed away before they even embark.

The compelling stories of three witnesses who spoke at this hearing demonstrated how difficult it has been for victims to seek or obtain protection before, or assistance after, violent and brutal crimes such as rape and sexual assault occur. Mr. Gerson continued to express deep concern for women and children who are unsafe while at sea. These vulnerable populations in particular are targeted by sexual predators often including crew members hired to work on board the ship. Sometimes, individuals hired as security guards who passengers understandably believe are on board to protect guests are the very ones who are committing these heinous crimes. More importantly, there is absolutely no police protection, on board these floating cities, and so defenseless passengers are left to protect themselves.

Actually, ship authorities have taken steps to cover up these incidents, especially in cases where crimes were committed by cruise line employees. Witnesses’ testimony revealed chilling details about efforts made by the ship authorities to hide evidence such as rape kits and other evidence left behind by quickly cleaning up physical evidence that would point responsibility at them. Witnesses who may have information unfavorable to cruise lines, denials of responsibility, often go without an interview or even documentation of witness status.

The testimony given on behalf of the International Crime Victims Association was made as a plea for Congress to provide cruise ship passengers with new legal protections. Advocates, asked for various requirements to be made of the cruise line industry laws. These billion dollar businesses must be held accountable for protecting passengers and keeping them safe.

Gerson & Schwartz, PA will continue on, in its long commitment to fairly represent maritime crime victims against an industry who places its financial interests before the civil protections that passengers deserve.

If you or a loved one has been injured physically or sexually on board a cruise.

Don’t Wait. Contact info@gslawus.com or call (888)587-8421for a free consultation today.

Over the last year, our Florida cruise ship attorneys have had the unfortunate task of discussing a number of incidents in which cruise ship passengers have been the victim of sexual assault or rape at the hands of crew members or other passengers.

Recent Incidents

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In February, we discussed an Inside Edition interview with a young woman who claims that she was held down by two crew members in their cabin and raped repeatedly onboard a Carnival cruise. In April, we talked about sexual abuse allegations against a Disney Cruise Line crew member who has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment of a 13-year-old female cruise passenger.  Last year, there was an assault on a fourteen-year-old passenger aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Imagination by a security guard, and, in July of 2012, a 19-year-old man from Kentucky was charged with raping an 18-year-old aboard the Carnival Dream.

Now, unfortunately, another such incident has occurred, this time aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Sea, which docked in Jamaica earlier this week. According to a report, two U.S. “men were accused of raping a female passenger who they were partying with the night before on the vessel.” The sexual assault allegedly occurred in the every early morning when the cruise ship was sailing approximately fifty miles outside Jamaican waters.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from Jamaican police, is investigating the incident. This is a somewhat unusual situation, as the FBI usually does not become involved in cruise ship crimes until after the ship returns to a U.S. port.

Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), conducted a review of compliance with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, reporting that it had concerns about the usefulness the Act’s crime-reporting requirements.  According to the review, the reporting requirements of the CVSSA produce outdated statistics on only a fraction of crimes.

The CVSSA requires cruise lines to report crimes falling into eight categories to the FBI: homicide, suspicious death, missing U.S. national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, sexual assault, firing or tampering with vessels, and theft greater than $10,000.  According to the GAO, crime statistics are published by the Coast Guard on its website only after the investigations are closed.  This means that, between January of 2010 and September of 2013, only 81 of 287 required crime reports were made public.

Preventing and controlling crime on board ships is one of the biggest problems that the cruise ship industry faces.  Every year, dozens of cruise ship passengers fall victim to physical and sexual assaults onboard cruise ships at the hands of crew members and other passengers.

According to FBI statistics, in 2007, there were 207 criminal incidents reported by the U.S. Coast Guard and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) that year.  However, as this blog has mentioned, that number is likely much higher. At the time the report was issued in 2007, there had already been 41 reported instances of sexual assault accounting for fifty-five percent of the violent crimes that were reported.  Further, there were a reported thirteen assaults resulting in “serious bodily injury.”

Contact an Attorney Today

Cruise companies have a duty to provide a safe environment for their passengers and the failure to do so may entitle the injured party to compensation. The Florida cruise ship accident lawyers of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship crimes for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the maritime attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.

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Over the last year, our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys have discussed a number of incidents in which cruise ship passengers have been the victim of sexual assault or rape at the hands of crew members or other passengers. Several weeks ago, two U.S. men were accused of raping a female passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Sea, which docked in Jamaica.

In February, we discussed an Inside Edition interview with a young woman who claims that she was held down by two crew members in their cabin and raped repeatedly onboard a Carnival cruise and, in April, we talked about sexual abuse allegations against a Disney Cruise Line crew member who has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment of a 13-year-old female cruise passenger.

Recent Allegations

Now, according to an article published in the St. Kitts and Nevis Observer, a Carnival Valor crew member was taken into custody by St. Kitt’s Police and charged with raping a cruise passenger while the ship was in territorial waters of the island. Police have refused to release the alleged offender’s name because the victim is a minor. Upon inquiry, the local police would say nothing other than “someone has been charged for an incident.”

Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), conducted a review of compliance with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, reporting that it had concerns about the usefulness the Act’s crime-reporting requirements. According to the review, the reporting requirements of the CVSSA produce outdated statistics on only a fraction of crimes.

The CVSSA requires cruise lines to report crimes falling into eight categories to the FBI: homicide, suspicious death, missing U.S. national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, sexual assault, firing or tampering with vessels, and theft greater than $10,000.  According to the GAO, crime statistics are published by the Coast Guard on its website only after the investigations are closed. This means that, between January of 2010 and September of 2013, only 81 of 287 required crime reports were made public.

Preventing and controlling crime on board ships is one of the biggest problems that the cruise ship industry faces. Every year, dozens of cruise ship passengers fall victim to physical and sexual assaults onboard cruise ships at the hands of crew members and other passengers.

According to FBI statistics, in 2007, there were 207 criminal incidents reported by the U.S. Coast Guard and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) that year.  However, as this blog has mentioned, that number is likely much higher. At the time the report was issued in 2007, there had already been 41 reported instances of sexual assault accounting for 55 percent of the violent crimes that were reported.  Further, there were a reported 13 assaults resulting in “serious bodily injury.”

Cruise companies have a duty to provide a safe environment for their passengers and the failure to do so may entitle the injured party to compensation. The Florida cruise ship accident lawyers of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship crimes for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the Florida maritime attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.

Over the last year, this blog has discussed on several occasions one of the most prominent problems faced by the cruise industry, onboard outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness. Each year, there are dozens of such outbreaks, including those suffered by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Grandeur of the Seas in April, in which 111 of 2122 (5.23%) passengers and 6 of 790 (0.76%) crew; Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas in January, in which  630 of 3,071 (20.5%) passengers and 54 of 1,166 (4.6%) crew; and the Norwegian Gem in November, in which 111 passengers and 3 crew members (4.55% of the total number of people onboard) reported being ill with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea. Our maritime attorneys are monitoring this information closely.

Blowing Nose

According to a recent publication by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) the leading cause of norovirus, a common cause of gastrointestinal illness, is infected food handlers who work while sick and don’t regularly wash their hands. Despite this finding, and common knowledge that cruise ships are essentially floating restaurants, the report inexplicably concluded that one is far more likely to contract the norovirus in a restaurant than on a cruise ship.

The CDC report estimates that 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year, mostly from coming in close contact with infected individuals or by eating contaminated food. The report concluded that cruise ships account for only one percent of reported norovirus cases, while the other 99 percent of cases occur on land. Although this claim appears, on its face, to favor the cruise ship industry, it is likely misleading.

Assuming that the average cruiser spends one week each year on a ship, then 51 out of 52 weeks a year, or 98 percent of the time, that person is not on a cruise. This means that, each year, the person is much more likely to catch the norovirus while on land because they spend an overwhelming majority of the time there.

With regard to norovirus cases directly related to contaminated food, the CDC identifies ill cooks and waiters as the cause of the problem. The CDC report indicates that restaurant workers account for 70 percent of norovirus cases involving contaminated food, because: One in every five food service workers reports working while sick with vomiting and diarrhea and, food service workers practice proper hand washing only one out of every four times.

The CDC recommends that the best way to curb this problem is “requiring sick food workers to stay home, and considering use of paid sick leave and on-call staffing, to support compliance.” Obviously, this solution will not work on cruise ships where crew members live on the ship in close quarters.

Cruise lines have a duty to provide their passengers with a safe and sanitary environment.  Failing to establish and enforce proper cleaning and hygiene procedures may expose a cruise line to liability for negligence. As this blog has mentioned before, because cruise ship claims are subject to different laws and much shorter statutes of limitations, sometimes as short as one year, they are best handled by experienced cruise ship accident attorneys.

The Florida cruise ship accident lawyers of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship negligence for over four decades.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident or has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the maritime attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.

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According to a report from the BBC, Saga Cruises’ Sapphire cruise liner was left stranded off the Isle of Mull with 1,008 passengers and crew aboard after an electrical fire broke out over the weekend and knocked out the ship’s power supply. Our Florida maritime attorneys read the BBC report, which claimed that there were no injuries and the Coastguard was providing the ship support while the crew dealt with the problem.

Cruise Ship

Following the incident, Saga released the following statement via Twitter:

There was a small electrical fire in the engine room on the Saga Sapphire at 10am on 16th May. This was quickly and professionally dealt with by the crew. The ship is currently anchored, in fine weather, off the Isle of Mull whilst the damaged electrical panel is repaired and tested. Our priority is always to make sure our passengers and crew are safe and well.

The Saga incident is yet another in a seemingly never-ending string of cruise mishaps, made worse by cruise liners’ continued policy of denial and concealment of such issues. In March, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas and the Navigator of the Seas had problems returning to port. The Adventure of the Seas lost propulsion after the cruise ship’s “fixipod” leaked oil and barely made it to San Juan and the Navigator of the Seas was unable to make port on time due to an oil spill caused by a collision between a ship and a barge.

Cruise Ship Crime a Problem as Well

As this blog recently discussed, although some cruise liners are now volunteering statistics regarding the safety of their vessels, those companies are unscrupulously artificially deflating crime numbers and diluting crime statistics through several underhanded tactics. According to an article published in the New York Times last year, cruise incidents are much more common than commonly perceived, citing the following statistics:

  • Between 1990 and 2011 there were approximately 79 fires onboard cruise ships and, until 2006, there were three or four fires each year.
  • Between 1972 and 2011, 98 cruise ships ran aground, an average of 2.5 ships each year.
  • Between 1980 and 2012, sixteen cruise ships sunk. Although sinking of cruise ships is becoming more rare, such incidents can be devastating, as demonstrated by the catastrophic crash and sinking of the Costa Concordia in 2012, which resulted in the deaths of thirty two individuals and injuries to dozens of others.

Cruise companies have a duty to provide a safe environment for their passengers and the failure to do so may entitle the injured party to compensation. Despite enhanced safety measures and new policies designed to ensure passenger safety, cruising can be a risky activity.

The Florida cruise ship accident attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and has been representing the victims of cruise ship accidents for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident, contact the Florida cruise ship attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.

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Our Florida Cruise Ship Attorneys have dedicated their decades of experience to representing cruise ship passengers that are injured by the acts or omissions of the cruise ship industry and its employees. This past Tuesday, the New York Times published a short editorial discussing the questionable actions of South Korean ferry captain, Lee Jun-seok, in abandoning the ship while it sank with hundreds of passengers still aboard. The South Korean ferry, Sewol, turned on its side and sank last Wednesday, leaving two-thirds of the 476 passengers dead or missing. So far as we know, none of those aboard included American citizens.

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Captain Lee and two-thirds of ferry’s crew survived, many of whom, including Lee himself, jumped ship shortly after it began to go down. According to reports, only one of the ferry’s 47 lifeboats was deployed, and the order to abandon ship wasn’t broadcast until 30 minutes after the ferry began to sink. One crew member claimed that an immediate evacuation was not conducted the ferry’s officers were attempting to stabilize the vessel. To date, Lee and six crew members of the Sewol have also been arrested, with others under investigation. South Korean law allows for an individual convicted of abandoning passengers at a time of crisis to be punished by life in prison.

The tragedy of the Sewol casts the spotlight back on the cruise industry, especially given the similarity of the allegations against Lee to those asserted against the captain of the Carnival cruise ship Costa Concordia in 2012. In one of the worst cruise disasters in history, the Costa Concordia crashed into the rocks off the coast of Giglio Island, Italy, resulting in the deaths of 32 individuals and injuries to dozens of others.

Carnival and ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, took heavy criticism for the botched evacuation efforts, which involved suffered from significant delays, allegations of bribery, and the captain’s early abandonment of the ship. Schettino is currently on trial in Italy for causing a shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning ship.

As this blog recently discussed, although some cruise liners are now “volunteering” statistics regarding the safety of their vessels, those companies are unscrupulously artificially deflating crime numbers and diluting crime statistics through several underhanded tactics. According to an article published in the New York Times last year, cruise incidents are much more common than commonly perceived, citing the following statistics:

  • Between 1990 and 2011 there were approximately 79 fires onboard cruise ships and, until 2006, there were three or four fires each year.

  • Between 1972 and 2011, 98 cruise ships ran aground, an average of 2.5 ships each year.

  • Between 1980 and 2012, 16 cruise ships sunk. Although sinking of cruise ships is becoming more rare, such incidents can be devastating, as demonstrated by the catastrophic crash and sinking of the Costa Concordia in 2012, which resulted in the deaths of 32 individuals and injuries to dozens of others.

Cruise companies have a duty to provide a safe environment for their passengers and the failure to do so may entitle the injured party to compensation. Despite enhanced safety measures and new policies designed to ensure passenger safety, cruising can be a risky activity.

The Florida cruise ship accident and personal injury attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing injury victims  for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a maritime or cruise ship accident, contact the Florida  injury attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, PA today.

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Saturday, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Grandeur of the Seas returned to Baltimore from a seven day journey during which a number of passengers suffered from a gastrointestinal illness causing symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

Sick in the Bathroom

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) officially issued a cruise ship illness outbreak alert for the ship, on which  111 of 2122 (5.23%) passengers, and 6 of 790 (0.76%) crew, reported falling ill with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea. The CDC still has not officially announced the cause of the illness, but our Florida maritime accident attorneys are waiting with anticipation for a discovery.

According to the Outbreak Alert, Royal Caribbean took the following action to deal with the outbreak:

  • Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures.

  • Made announcements to onboard passengers of the outbreak, as well as encouraged reporting of symptoms and hand hygiene.

  • Collected stool specimens from ill passengers and crew to send to a CDC lab.

  • Consulted with the CDC on plans for a comprehensive sanitation procedure upon making port in Baltimore, which included: additional cleaning crew to complete a thorough super-sanitization cleaning and disinfection; staged disembarkation for active cases to limit illness transmission; and terminal and transport infection control procedures.

The outbreak aboard the Grandeur of the Seas was small compared to other such epidemics that have occurred recently. According to another CDC Outbreak Alert, in January, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas suffered from the largest gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on a cruise ship in 20 years, with 630 of 3,071 (20.5%) passengers, and 54 of 1,166 (4.6%) crew falling ill.

The issuance of Outbreak Alerts such as these is part of the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (“VSP”), designed to prevent and control the transmission and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses aboard cruise ships. Gastrointestinal illnesses can cause vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, dehydration, and, in very serious cases, death. Despite the CDC’s efforts to improve cruise ship health and cleanliness, violations occur often on many cruise ships.

Part of the problem is the fact that many passengers afflicted with gastrointestinal illness are unable to leave their cabin due to their symptoms or don’t want to risk being quarantined by the ship’s crew. Because these passengers don’t report their symptoms, the seriousness of an outbreak can be diminished.

Cruise lines have a duty to provide their passengers with a safe and sanitary environment.  Failing to establish and enforce proper cleaning and hygiene procedures may expose a cruise line to liability for negligence. As this blog has mentioned before, because cruise ship claims are subject to different laws and much shorter statutes of limitations, sometimes as short as one year, they are best handled by experienced cruise ship accident attorneys.

The Miami personal injury lawyers  at Gerson and Schwartz, PA specialize representing cruise ship passengers in a variety of settings. Our  lawyers are also licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship negligence for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident or has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the Florida maritime attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.

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