National Transportation Safety Board Holds Forum To Address Cruise Ship Safety

Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) commenced a forum in Washington D.C. to address a number of issues related to the cruise ship industry. The meeting will be attended by NTSB representatives, Coast Guard officials, representatives of the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”), and members of the Cruise Line International Association (“CLIA”), the organizer of the meeting. Our Florida cruise ship and maritime accident attorneys have been monitoring the forum for any developments.

According to a NTSB spokesman, the agency regularly holds forums addressing safety issues, but is the first in which the cruise industry has been the focus. The spokesman commented, “Because the cruise ship industry is worldwide, and has sort of a diverse oversight structure that’s international in scope, we felt that maybe we could add something to the conversation by bringing everyone together.

Although topics to be addressed at the meeting include regulation of the industry accident investigations ship design and fire protection and emergency response, the International Cruise Victims (“ICV”) a prominent non-profit organization advocating for cruise safety, was not permitted to send representatives to the forum.

The exclusion of the ICV from the meeting may be related to the turmoil caused by the organization last year following the announcement by several major U.S. cruise companies, that they would voluntarily report cruise ship crimes and man overboard situations ahead of the passage of the legislation.

Following a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean, released their crime statistics dating back to 2010. After the announcement, the ICV issued its own press release, claiming that the cruise companies were artificially deflating their crime numbers and diluting their crime statistics.

Although not represented at the forum, the ICV submitted a 51-page report on safety, operations and oversight, and issued a press release expressing disappointment at being excluded, stating “the victims and the maritime experts working with ICV should not be excluded because they have much to contribute to understanding the safety issues on cruise ships.”

Despite a number of enhanced protective measures and policies designed to ensure passenger safety, cruising can still be a risky activity. Cruise ship accidents are becoming more and more common and don’t only occur while at sea, rendering the need for experienced legal counsel for those injured in such accidents more important than ever.

Cruise ship accidents must be handled differently than ordinary personal injury cases, because they often arise under a different type of law, such maritime, admiralty, or contract law, and are subject to much shorter statutes of limitations to pursue a claim, sometimes as short as one year. Further, cruise companies often utilize various tactics to delay litigation, resulting in the degradation of evidence and, in certain cases, loss of the right to compensation.

The Florida maritime attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts, and have been representing the victims of cruise ship accidents for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident, contact the Miami, Florida personal injury attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, PA today.

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