After coming to a grinding halt in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Florida cruise industry is expected to rebound in a massive way in 2021. Cruise Market Watch predicts that numbers will hit $23.8 billion as 13.9 million passengers book their cruise adventures, representing a 96.2% increase over the number of guests during the pandemic year. Though passengers can expect some changes onboard, one constant will remain the same: The biggest selling feature for cruise vacations is the extensive range of world-class amenities available.
However, while the water features, shore excursions, and world-class onboard entertainment are enticing, there is one amenity you hope you never encounter — the need for medical treatment because of an accident or illness. Cruise ships have an obligation to ensure passengers receive essential care, but medical malpractice on Miami cruise ships is an unfortunate reality. Negligence by onboard health care providers can exacerbate your medical condition, so understanding the risks is important.
Risks for Injured and Sick Passengers
No cruise operator should be expected to have top tier neurosurgeons or oncologists on board, but these companies are required to handle the basics for passengers. Accidents from cruise-related activities lead to predictable injuries, and ailments are foreseeable due to the unique conditions onboard. Still, a cruise line may be liable for:
- Unqualified Medical Staff: You may be shocked to learn that many health care professionals hired by cruise companies are not licensed to practice medicine in the US. They may have credentials in their own nations, but the standards of medicine in these counties can be subpar.
- Lack of Essential Equipment: Because certain types of cruise injuries are foreseeable, a cruise ship should have x-rays, CT scanners, MRI machines, and other imaging technology onboard. Basic first aid equipment, such as bandages, gauze, sutures, sanitation supplies, and related equipment is a must, as is automated external defibrillator (AED).
- Expired Medications: Cruise ships will quickly go through anti-seasickness meds, heartburn drugs, pain medications, and related drugs; others, such as antibiotics or nitroglycerin for heart attacks, may hang around onboard well beyond their expiration date.
Cruise Line Liability for Medical Malpractice
For many years, cruise companies escaped med mal liability by claiming that ship-based physicians and health care providers are independent contractors. A recent court case changed the legal landscape to provide passengers with rights after suffering injuries from medical negligence. You do have recourse against the cruise line for the acts of its medical staff if it:
- Marketed the skills of its medical team;
- Has the power to hire and fire health care practitioners;
- Is responsible for stocking medical supplies, equipment, and medications; or,
- Otherwise treats staff as employees, thereby triggering vicarious liability.
Discuss Onboard Medical Malpractice with a Miami Cruise Ship Accidents Attorney
If you suffered a medical condition after receiving negligent treatment onboard a South Florida cruise, you could have a claim for medical malpractice. Our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA can advise you on your legal remedies after reviewing your situation, so please contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation. We can meet with you at our Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach offices to discuss options.