Articles Tagged with Florida maritime attorneys

If you’re on a cruise ship, and you’re injured as a result of medical malpractice, federal law which governs injuries at sea has been fairly consistent that you cannot recover damages against the cruise line as a result of the negligence.

There have been all kinds of excuses to deny recovery under a malpractice theory. One shouldn’t expect the same medical care on a ship as they do on land. Cruise ships are not floating hospitals, and shouldn’t be held to a medical malpractice standard the same way real medical facilities are. Or, the doctors on the ship are independent contractors, and thus, the cruise ship can’t be responsible for their negligence.

But a recent case now seems to be turning the law around, providing medical malpractice victims at sea a possible remedy under federal laws.

There have been an abnormally large number of cruise accidents recently. And while none could be termed catastrophic, the recent spate still is worth noting to draw attention to the safety standards that some cruise lines are employing.

Halloween Cruise Runs Aground

Just recently on a Halloween cruise, a Grand Bahama Celebration cruise ship returning to Palm Beach struck something in the water, forcing it to turn around, and return to port.

A young Clemson University college student died on a cruise ship recently after plunging 2 stories from an upper to a lower deck. The student had climbed a front mast with about 5 other friends, all to observe the sunset.

There are no reports that the student was drinking; in fact, most accounts state that he was just talking about life with friends.

The problem, however, was that he was actually standing in a restricted area, having climbed the ship’s mast, in close proximity to the ship’s radar. When the radar moved, as it often does, it apparently pushed the student off the ledge and onto a running track below, a fall of about 20 feet.

If you are injured on a cruise ship, a major hurdle that you may have is filing your lawsuit within the time period provided by law. Cruise ship accident victims are often excluded from bringing negligence or liability claims, based upon having waited too long to file a lawsuit.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a deadline in which a lawsuit can be filed. After that deadline, the lawsuit is forever barred. Different causes of action—negligence, breach of contract, malpractice, etc. – may have different statutes of limitations, and different states have different limitations on each kind of action.

When you are on a cruise, you are often miles out into the ocean, far away from land. While on the cruise you may be engaging in extreme sports, eating foods you aren’t used to eating, walking on rocking floors, and being in close contact with thousands of other passengers in a closed environment. With the chances of injury or illness being high, you would think that ships were equipped with medical facilities and personnel that were prepared to deal with any kind of medical emergency. Think again.

Medical Facilities on Cruises

In fact, there is little regulation about what kind of medical facilities must be on board, and medical personnel may be licensed in countries that are not as stringent as the licensure requirements in the U.S.

We all know that if you’re injured while on a cruise, there’s a good chance that if anybody is liable for your injuries, it’s the cruise line. Inside the confines of the ship, it is the cruise line’s responsibility to make sure there’s nothing that’s going to injure you. But what about once you leave the ship, for the so-called excursions? Getting injured while on an excursion presents an entire host of difficult legal questions.

The Danger of Excursions

Excursions are the off-ship adventures that you take when the ship docks at a port of call. Excursions can include scuba diving, snorkeling, watersports, caveing/spelunking, traversing waterfalls, interacting with wildlife, or organized tours of the locale.

If you sustain personal injuries, certainly your own pain, suffering, loss of income, and other damages may be recoverable against a responsible party. Often though a victim’s injuries don’t just affect them, but also the people around them, such as spouses. Spouses of injured victims may also lose vital aspects of companionship when their significant other is injured. Those losses can often be recovered by the spouse if the injury occurs in Florida, but the law is unclear whether that’s true if a victim is injured at sea. Our Florida maritime accident attorneys can help you understand the specifics regarding your individual case.

Spouse Becomes Separate Plaintiff in Case

A spouse who loses the companionship, intimacy, or daily comfort of their loved one’s health, has what is called a loss of consortium claim. The spouse will be a separate Plaintiff, suing along with the directly injured spouse.

Despite recent news of the ill-fated cruise line Costa Concordia being raised from the sea after its tragic sinking in 2012, Carnival Cruise lines, the parent company of Concordia, apparently thinks the environment is right to start raising prices on cruises again. This is despite having a less than spectacular year when it comes to cruise ship safety. Our Florida cruise ship attorneys are monitoring these developments closely.

Prices Going Up

Carnival Cruise line recently reported its intention to raise cruise prices, which had been trending cheaper in the recent years. Bad press has plagued the cruise line industry, due in no small part to the spate of near disasters that many mainstream cruise lines have suffered.

If you are injured on a cruise ship, part of the burden in proving your case is showing you have sustained an injury, and proving the nature, severity, and permanency of your injuries. If you have sustained a major injury—for example, one that requires surgery—that may sound like an easy burden. But despite how obvious your injuries may be, the law allows a defendant cruise line to force you to attend what is known as an Independent Medical Examination, or IME. An experienced Florida cruise ship attorney can help you understand the process.

What is an IME?

An IME is a medical examination that an injured person is compelled to attend while their case is pending. Although the name may imply that the examination is “independent,” in most cases, the physicians are hired and paid by the cruise line, and may even receive significant money from the cruise through repeated referrals of injured passengers. IMEs are fairly routine, and are used by defendants in all kinds of cases.

Over the last year, our Florida cruise ship attorneys have had the unfortunate task of discussing a number of incidents in which cruise ship passengers have been the victim of sexual assault or rape at the hands of crew members or other passengers.

Recent Incidents

In February, we discussed an Inside Edition interview with a young woman who claims that she was held down by two crew members in their cabin and raped repeatedly onboard a Carnival cruise. In April, we talked about 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.  Last year, there was an assault on a fourteen-year-old passenger aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Imagination by a security guard, and, in July of 2012, a 19-year-old man from Kentucky was charged with raping an 18-year-old aboard the Carnival Dream.

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