Passenger Drowning at Sea – Understanding Your Rights

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch of UK Government (MAIB) recently published a report about the drowning of a 29-year-old female passenger in a swimming pool on board Sapphire Princess in the East China Sea. The victim was found floating face down in a swimming pool on board the Sapphire Princess. Despite rescue and resuscitation attempts by passengers and crew, the victim did not survive. In their report, MAIB concluded that the mere usage of a notice board expressing that lifeguards were not on duty and persons using the pools should do so at their own risk was inadequate and failed to sufficiently raise awareness among the passengers about the risks of unsupervised swimming. Our team of Miami cruise ship accident lawyers were saddened to hear about this awful incident when it occurred, but we are not surprised by the MAIB’s findings.

Serious safety issues were also noted by the MAIB team during their investigation, and officials specifically noted that:

  • With no dedicated pool attendants it was left to pool users and bystanders to recognize an emergency and raise an alarm.
  • The crew members (catering staff) in the vicinity of Neptune Pool had not received instruction from the company in medical first aid.
  • There was no documented formal risk assessment available for ship’s staff reference when assessing swimming pool operational safety.

Here is a shocking fact: There are no specific regulations pertaining to the operation and use of swimming pools on cruise ships. However, The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations of 1997 require that risk assessments are carried out.

Specifically, the regulation states that:

‘A suitable and sufficient assessment shall be made of the risks of the health and safety of workers arising in the normal course of their activities or duties, for the purpose of identifying groups of workers at particular risk in the performance of their duties, the measures to be taken to comply with the employer’s duties under these regulations, and any significant findings of the assessment and any revision of it shall be brought to the notice of workers. This assessment shall extend to the risks to the health and safety of other persons on board ship in so far as they may be affected by the acts and omissions of the employer…’

Understanding Your Legal Rights if a Loved One Drowns While on a Cruise Ship

Cruise ship deaths that occur at sea are different from an injury or death that occurs on land. Many passengers are shocked to discover that cruise line companies insert binding contractual provisions in passenger tickets shortening the time injured parties have to file a lawsuit against the cruise company. Cruise ship passengers are required to give written notice of their intent to pursue a wrongful death drowning claim, and in some instances, you may only have six months to do so. Depending on the cruise line you or a loved one was on, you may only have one year from the date of the incident to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Contact a Miami Maritime Lawyer Today

The cruise ship injury and wrongful death lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA have handled these types of cases and understand the subtle nuances associated with maritime law that come into play with a claim against a cruise ship. The firm’s Florida offices are located in the heart of Miami, Florida close to the port of Miami and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

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