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Almost 270 people had their dreams turned into a nightmare in a fraction of a second when the 286-foot cruise ship Saint Laurent struck a wall in a river lock in the Saint Lawrence Seaway in northern New York. The ship, which was full of tourists, was headed from Montreal to Toronto when it slammed into an approach wall bumper and started taking on water, injuring 19 passengers and 3 crew members, according to the official report of the U.S. Coast Guard. Our team of Miami personal injury attorneys sincerely hope that the passengers and crew members make a speedy recovery after this awful incident.Each year, numerous cruise ship passengers face similar incidents ranging from minor slips, trips, or falls, to life-threatening injuries leading to permanent disability and loss of employment. However, what most passengers do not understand is that if their injury was potentially caused by the negligence of the cruise ship crew or a defect of the ship itself, they should speak to a lawyer who has experience handling a cruise ship injury claim. Why is experience so important with these claims? Because cruise ships often employ teams of defense lawyers and adjusters who focus solely on reducing or denying injury claims. Furthermore, cruise ships attempt to shield themselves from liability by slipping in legalese on the back of cruise ship tickets.

Below are three big reasons why you need to retain an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer.

  1. Knowledge of the Boating Industry and How these Claims Work is Invaluable

We’ve discussed a lot about cruise tickets, and the burdens they put on cruise passengers who are seeking to sue a cruise line for damages and injuries. A recent case has come out that has unfortunately said nothing new, again emphasizing how restrictive the terms of cruise tickets can be.

Passenger Sues in Wrong Venue

The case involved a passenger who was seeking to sue Royal Caribbean for injuries she sustained on a cruise. Her cruise ticket had a one-year statute of limitations to bring such actions, and she narrowly beat that deadline.

In a horrible incident, a cruise ship worker who plead guilty to charges that he brutally assaulted, physically and sexually, a cruise ship passenger on a Holland America Cruise, has now changed his mind, and wants a trial to determine his guilt.

The Attack Inside the Passenger’s Cabin

According to the assailant’s own confession at his initial plea hearing, he was motivated by what he believed to be insults to his mother. According to him, the passenger called him a “son of a bitch” on numerous occasions, when he was delivering food to her onboard cabin. He took that as an affront to his mother.

A few weeks ago, our maritime accident attorneys discussed recent 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. According to reports, Canaveral Port Authority Police arrested 36-year-old Ahmed Sofyan, a resident of Jakarta, Indonesia, on allegations that he had lured the young girl into an unoccupied cabin and touched her inappropriately.

Following the incident, Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line issued a statement: “We have no tolerance whatsoever for the behavior alleged in this incident. We are sorry that anything of this nature could have occurred on one of our ships. We place enormous value on the trust our guests have in us, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of each and every one of our guests.”

Two weeks after Sofyan’s arrest, WKMG Local 6 published a story in which former Disney Cruise Line security officer Dawn Taplin was interviewed regarding her experiences while working for the cruise line that seems to contradict Disney Cruise Line’s company policy regarding the handling of such incidents.

Several months ago, this blog discussed the introduction of new legislation entitled, The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (“Protection Act”), at a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that would require cruise companies to publish statistical information regarding crimes committed on their ships that previously went unreported. Surprisingly, three major U.S. cruise companies, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean, offered to voluntarily report cruise ship crimes and man overboard situations ahead of the passage of the legislation.

Shortly after the hearing, the cruise lines released their crime statistics dating back to 2010, which prompted an outcry by non-profit organization International Cruise Victims (“ICV”). Why was ICV displeased with the cruise lines’ seemingly virtuous behavior? Because, according to an ICV press release, the cruise companies were artificially deflating their crime numbers and diluting their crime statistics through several underhanded tactics.

According to the release, Carnival Corporation, owner of Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa, HAL, P&O Cruises, Princess, among others, aggregated the data across all of its brands so as to dilute the crime rate related to its brand with the highest number of crimes. Citing research by cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, the ICV press release argued that, although Carnival Cruise Lines represents less than half the total number of Carnival brands, it but accounts for 88% of all crimes committed on all Carnival cruises.

Captain Francesco Schettino was released from house arrest after a hearing in Grosseto, Italy. The magistrates presiding over his case have determined that Schettino, who is accused of being responsible for the tragedy on board the Costa Concordia in January, with over 30 people dead, is no longer a flight risk. At this point, he is being permitted to leave his home and to communicate with people outside of his legal team, or family.
The gross negligence of Schettino resulting in the cruise ship crashing into a reef and sinking off the coast of Italy has been in the media for months. All signs point to this captain, for neglecting his crew and passengers and jumping ship to save himself, after realizing the ship was about to go down. Not only that, but Schettino is said to have been distracted by a female friend, while this enormous vessel ran aground causing mass chaos, multiple deaths, and serious personal injuries.

Schettino is still required to obey authorities and restrictions while awaiting trial. He will continue having to report to authorities, while remaining in his home town of Meta di Sorrento. Nevertheless, it seems rather lenient, that someone accused of multiple manslaughter, causing an accident and abandoning ship, should be released given the damage he might have caused. Just based on the probability of his guilt he should be detained!

Remember, 32 people were pronounced dead and 2 others are missing and thought to be dead. Specifically, Schettino is accused of missoperating this enormous vessel, full of paying passengers on vacation, who were left in horror. Unfortunately, far too often, Cruise companies try to cover up the events on board ships, in order to maintain their reputation and position in the industry. Maritime attorneys know that the focus for the cruise lines, more often than not, is not the passengers’ safety. Rather, their main concern is profits, profits, profits.

The full service law firm of Gerson & Schwartz, PA specializes in litigating maritime law suits. They can handle a multitude of claims on behalf of individuals who were harmed, or died on board a cruise ship. Dealing with a cruise ship company that has been negligent is a daunting task that individuals should not handle alone. Experienced attorneys like those at Gerson & Schwartz, PA are here to take care of injury victims and families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one, by recovering damages.

If you or someone you know has been injured or has died on board a cruise ship, contact the law offices of Gerson & Schwartz, PA for a free consultation with experienced lawyers. Call (305)371-6000 or email today to get started on your claim. Personal injury is a serious matter and Gerson & Schwartz is here to help.

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Once again the sexual misconduct of a crew member on board a cruise ship is a hot topic. During the recent airing of the CNN news series, “ Safe at Sea”, Anderson Cooper AC360, a 15 year old girl reveals one horrifying incident; she was sexually assaulted by an unidentified crew member. Dressed in a bar tender’s uniform, this man uses a key to enter her room, and forces her to perform oral sex on him, on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise in 2010.

Due to the traumatic nature of this incident, the girl was frightened and did not tell anyone what had happened until after the cruise ended, and she was safe and sound at home. In an interview with cruise ship security expert, Randy Jacques, the reality of this event was brought to light. Jacques reiterates again and again the frequency of sexual assaults on board cruise ships, and the high number of sexual predators that travel on cruise ships in search of female victims. In actuality, 85% or crimes committed on cruise ships go unreported, an astounding statistic which the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) has kept hidden from the public, in order to protect the industry’s reputation and ensure large profits.

In this instance, Royal Caribbean settled the case with the female under aged crime victim for an undisclosed amount. However, far too often individuals do not report these crimes and the cruise lines continue to advertise themselves, as safe modes of travel neglecting their passengers’ safety and escaping any legal ramifications or police involvement. Even when the crimes are reported the cruise companies try to cover up and don’t follow the procedures which would apply as standard on land. The truth of the matter is that cruises are amongst the most dangerous places for young girls and women traveling alone or in small groups. Sexual predators board cruise ships either as crew members or passengers are enabled because these floating cities lack police protection and security. Thus, sexual assaults can take place, virtually unnoticed.

More often than not, crew members are foreign nationals from other countries and the Cruise ship industry does not require back ground checks on these individuals. Therefore, they can literally slide under the radar after committing crimes against passengers. Unfortunately, the cruise ship industry wants you to believe you are safe when you get on board a cruise, but this is certainly not the case. You are putting yourself at risk every time you take a cruise.

In order to assist crime victims in their plight for justice against sexual predators on board cruise ships, experienced attorneys, specializing in maritime law are at your service. The team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA helps individuals bring legal action against cruise lines in a professional and effective manner, recovering damages for their clients. Gerson & Schwartz, PA has been in practice for over 40 years, focusing on the needs of crime victims and victims of sexual assault on and off cruise ships.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a sexual crime, or has suffered an injury on or off a cruise ship contact (305)371-6000 or today, for a free consultation. Gerson & Schwartz, PA will fight for your rights against an industry that is grossly negligent and does not protect its passengers adequately. Your victimization deserves effective legal representation and fair compensation.

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