Cruise ships can offer an idyllic atmosphere and experience for passengers. However, poor shipboard safety and training may turn a dream vacation into the most unwanted nightmare for passengers and their families. The harm from these maritime accidents may be compounded by the antiquated laws that govern cruise ship accidents and fatalities.
An Alabama couple was killed in a cruise ship on the Amazon last April after a fire broke out in their cabin. The deaths may have been prevented if the ship was equipped with its advertised safety devices and the crew was properly trained, according to a Peruvian Navy report.
The fire was attributed to short-circuit in a power strip provided by the ship and connected to a CPAP machine used by the male victim. The flames were confined to their cabin. However, the poor construction and tragedy compounded the fire’s impacted.
The ship’s fire alarms did not sound as the fire grew in the cabin and smoke spread. Additionally, fire-resistant materials were not used in the cabin construction which also lacked smoke detectors.
The crew’s reaction was also slow. It took 21 minutes for six or seven crew members to begin a rescue effort. The ship’s captain, in fact, slept through the fire.
The 74-year-old male victim was dead when the crew got in the cabin. His 72-year-old wife was still alive although she later died five minutes from carbon monoxide poisoning five minutes after reaching the hospital.
Despite these alleged deficiencies, this 4-year-old ship was advertised as being the best on the Amazon, exceeded Peruvian safety standards and meeting international guidelines by its operator. It is still in operation on the Amazon.
The ship’s owner is appealing the report’s findings. The harbor master also ordered the revocation of the ship captain’s license along with a $19,000 fine for the ship’s owner. The local prosecutor’s criminal investigation is still underway.
The couple’s daughters are also considering a lawsuit. However, the 97-year-old Death on the High Seas Act may restrict their recovery to funeral expenses from the cruise line and the ship’s operator because of their parents’ age. This law’s cruise ship accident awards are based upon the victims’ earnings and whether they have dependents. It also blocks damages that are usually allowed in wrongful death cases such as pain and suffering, according to two lawyers who specialize in maritime law.
The daughters’ attorneys are seeking legal alternatives for a lawsuit. They are also calling for improvements in this law and required safety measures on ships.
This lack of legal liability for ship owners has frustrated efforts to improve safety measures on cruise lines. Industry lobbyists have also blocked efforts to strengthen this outdated law.
Victims of these tragic accidents and their families should seek experienced cruise ship lawyers in Miami law to assure that they can take full advantage of their legal rights and remedies under existing maritime and so they can obtain fair and reasonable compensation needed to recover for their harms and losses. If you were injured by the negligence of a cruise line, contact a cruise ship lawyer at the Miami personal injury law firm of Gerson & Schwartz, PA at 877-475-2905 for a free consultation today.