On a number of occasions, our Florida maritime attorneys have commented on the negative aspects of the ever-increasing size of cruise ships, specifically, that these giant vessels have so many more areas in which passengers can get hurt. With more entertainment areas comes the greater risk of harm to passengers, especially when cruises feature options such as on-board surfing and giant waterslides. Many ships now boast several gigantic pools, which are unsupervised by lifeguards or other crew members.
Late last year, one of the problems associated with these large, and numerous pools was brought to light when 6-year-old Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Florida, drowned in one of the pools aboard the ship where no life guards were on duty. Hunter was spotted underwater in a mid-ship pool by passengers as the ship was completing the final leg of a four-day journey.
A ship DJ saw Hunter struggling in the water and another passenger guest then jumped into the pool and pulled the boy out. A crew member attempted to revive the unconscious boy, but was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead shortly after. According to one passenger’s account, there were a number of adult passengers in the pool area, but no lifeguards.
Last week, local Florida news outlets WKMG Local 6 aired a special report addressing the issue of children drowning on cruise ships. As part of the report, the parents of Qwentyn Hunter were interviewed and his mother, Tashara Hunter, stated that “It was the worst nightmare reality I ever experienced in my life.” Although it is clear that Tashara Hunter was emotionally scarred by the death of her child, unfortunately, she and her family, and the families of the victims of several other cruise ship drowning deaths in recent years, will never be fully compensated for their loss.
Under a federal maritime law known as the “Death on the High Seas Act,” families of maritime deaths are limited to recovering pecuniary damages for deaths that occur at sea. Because recovery is limited under the Act, families of maritime death victims are barred from recovering emotional damages such as pain and suffering, grief, bereavement, and mental anguish. The Act applies to all maritime accidents that occur more than three miles from the shores of any of the United States or its territories, and is therefore very often applicable to cruise ships.
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. As demonstrated by the unfortunate death of Hunter, the pool areas of cruise liners can be especially dangerous, particularly when passengers go unsupervised by trained crew members.
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 maritime lawyers of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.