Falling Overboard on Cruise Ships: Are Cruise Lines Responsible
The Christmas holidays were a sad time for the family of a 74-year-old passenger on the Queen Mary 2. According to our Florida cruise ship injury attorney, at some point between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. on December 23rd, it is believed that the woman fell overboard while the ship sailed off the New Jersey coast. The passenger was on a 12-day Caribbean cruise on the ship. The Coast Guard, once it received notice of the incident, began a search of the area. The Queen Mary 2 also turned around in hopes of locating the passenger. The Coast Guard implemented the use of a fixed wing plane, as well as a helicopter. Sadly, no trace of the passenger was seen. The search was officially called off on Christmas Eve.
Cruises are tremendously popular among singles, couples, and families of all ages. They are a convenient way to see several destinations in a short period of time. Millions of passengers board these large ships every year, excited to escape reality for a few days and relax. It is estimated that roughly 20 to 25 passengers fall overboard from cruise ships every year. Some of these falls may be due to excessive alcohol intake, or even suicide. Altogether, this begs the question – can cruise ships be responsible for falls overboard?
The answer lies in the individual facts of the fall. If it is determined that the cruise ship did not take proper steps to prevent passengers from falling overboard, there could be a viable claim that the cruise line has some legal liability. Under general maritime law, more than one person can be deemed negligent.
Obviously, if a passenger voluntarily jumps overboard, there is probably outside of the scope of any legal liability on a cruise line operator. However, ship railings and guardrails on ships are designed so that they prevent accidental falls. So what if the cruise ship did not properly maintain the railing and the guardrails? If these safety mechanisms are not properly maintained, the cruise ship may face liability if an accident occurs. With the assistance of a Miami cruise ship injury attorney, these cruise lines may be brought to justice.
A cruise ship may also be liable if it does not take proper steps to locate a passenger who has fallen overboard. After a passenger falls overboard, every second is critical for a safe recovery. If the cruise ship receives notice that a passenger has fallen overboard, it is required to turn around, contact the Coast Guard, and try to mark the area where the person was last seen. If there were no witnesses to the fall, cruise ship staff should begin reviewing security footage of the ship, which may provide clues as to when and where the passenger fell. If the cruise ship does not take immediate action after a fall, it may be liable if it is determined that the passenger may have been located with a quicker response.
Our cruise injury attorneys are experienced in claims against cruise lines
If you or a loved one suffered a fall overboard on a cruise ship, let our Miami cruise injury attorneys help. To schedule a free consultation, call 877-475-2905 or visit injuryattorneyfla.com.