Recently, our Florida Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys have been watching several different situations in which cruise lines have been implicated in cases of potential medical negligence and wrongful death.
In January, this blog discussed an unfortunate incident involving the death of a 72-year-old passenger aboard Carnival’s Sun Princess ship, which led the Australian authorities to launch a formal investigation. In that case, Betty Virgo was refused overnight medical supervision by ship’s staff and ended up dying the next day. Virgo’s body was returned to several days later, but it had been embalmed without an autopsy. Carnival denied that its medical staff was negligent in treating Virgo.
Now, Carnival is back in the news as a Chicago Tribune story discusses the sudden and mysterious death of a 29-year-old man while cruising last month. According to the story, John Perricone started feeling ill on February 19th. When Perricone had trouble walking the next morning, he visited the ship’s doctor. While in the infirmary, Perricone began to convulse and died shortly thereafter. According to authorities, foul play is not suspected in Perricone’s death and his cause of death has not been determined, pending an autopsy from the medical examiner’s office in New Orleans, the ship’s home port.
Under Florida law, physicians, hospitals, and other medical professionals owe their patients a duty to act with a certain level of care generally accepted within the medical industry. When medical professionals fail to satisfy this duty, the resulting negligence may result in liability for medical malpractice.
In the event a passenger dies aboard a ship, the cruise line is required to adhere to certain procedures. First, the cruise line must contact the deceased’s next of kin and report the death to federal authorities, including the FBI and Coast Guard. Although foul play is not suspected in Perricone’s case, the cruise line should have taken on the responsibility of determining whether any other passengers were suffering from similar symptoms.
The cruise line is required to store the deceased’s body and arrange to have the body transported upon making port. Usually, the body will be held onboard until the ship makes port in the U.S.; however, if the cruise line transfers the body in a foreign port, the deceased’s family may have to cover the expense of transporting the body home.
Although no medical negligence may have occurred in Perricone’s case, it is in his family’s best interest to contact an experienced cruise ship attorney to discuss their rights. Cruise ship cases must be handled differently than ordinary personal injury cases, because they often arise under a different type of law, such as maritime, admiralty, or contract law, and are subject to much shorter statutes of limitations to pursue a claim, sometimes as short as one year. Further, cruise companies often utilize various tactics to delay litigation, resulting in the degradation of evidence and, in certain cases, loss of the right to compensation.
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 have 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 maritime accident attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.