Rash of Man Overboard Cases Hits Cruise Industry

A strange rash of cruise passengers falling overboard has struck the cruise industry lately. And while no lawsuit have been filed, the stories still highlight safety issues in the cruise industry, and problems that need to be addressed.

Laundry List of Overboard Cases

A Carnival Triumph passenger’s body was found at sea after he fell off the deck of the ship. The incident happened just off the coast of Mexico. There was surveillance video, but no word yet on why the man fell or how.

In an unrelated incident, an elderly man took his own life, after jumping overboard. That conclusion was reached after review of surveillance video, which showed the man jumping overboard without hesitation. There was a report that the man had been arguing with his wife that night, and may have had some cognitive disabilities.

In the Bahamas, a man went overboard on the Carnival Glory. That man has not been found, despite other ships and the coast guard trying to find him, and the search has been called off. The man was a 21-year-old student at Virginia Tech.

Recently, a man fell overboard on a Liberty of the Seas ship off the coast of the Florida Keys. Surveillance showed that man climbing over the railing.

In December, a Holland America employee was found dead, after having fallen overboard about 20 miles off the coast of Clearwater, Florida. That was ruled an “accident.”

How People Fall

Why do people fall off cruise ships? The use of surveillance video has given us some insight. But in some cases, the reason still isn’t clear.

Of course, little can be done to avoid someone determined to take their own life. Some are accidental, either the result of horseplay or drunkenness. But it’s generally very hard to determine which are intentional and which are accidental, largely because in many cases bodies are not found.

But before you hold the cruise industry blameless, consider this: there is technology to immediately detect when someone is overboard. It uses drones, and heat sensors, which would provide ships immediate notice that someone has fallen. Of course, the sooner you know about a man overboard, the quicker the search starts, and thus the better chances of finding them.

Sadly, despite such technology being suggested by cruise oversight organizations, only one cruise line—Disney Cruises—currently uses the technology in pre-2010 ships (all ships built after 2010 must have the technology). There is also minimum height restrictions of guardrails outside of cabins for post-2010 ships.

One would think that the rash of overboard situations would cause concern over safety in the cruise industry. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case just yet.

If you are injured while a passenger on a cruise ship, you have rights. Make sure you have attorneys that understand complex federal maritime laws, and the safety regulations that cruise ships are required to abide by. Talk to the Florida cruise ship attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today for a free consultation about your cruise injury case.

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