For many cruise passengers, shore excursions are just as big a part of the experience as onboard activities. According to a survey conducted by CruiseFever.com, a site dedicated to providing tips and advice on cruise vacations, only 34.3% of US passengers will stay on the ship for the entire cruise; the remaining 65.7% enjoy outdoor and water sports, historical tours, dining experiences, and many other adventures by booking excursions.
While you may have concerns about the risks involved with the excursion itself, you may overlook one key point — the potential for motor vehicle crashes during your journey to the location by taxi, passenger van, or bus. Cruise operators will attempt to deflect liability, so you will need an experienced Miami cruise ship accident lawyer when attempting to recover compensation for your losses. Plus, there are a few points to keep in mind about transportation-related injuries on shore excursions.
Default Rules for Cruise Line Liability
Under US personal injury laws, the owner of a vessel traveling in navigable waters has a duty to exercise proper care regarding passenger safety. Therefore, cruise operators are obligated to warn guests of the risks and potential hazards they are reasonably expected to encounter during the trip. This duty extends to activities, amenities, and experiences offered by cruise lines, including shore excursions. When transportation from the port to another location is required, it is reasonable to expect that collision could occur.
Cruise Operator Attempts to Shift Liability
Cruise lines are for-profit companies, so they invest considerable effort to sidestep the default rules and eliminate the possibility of paying out on any type of injury claim. If you were hurt in a vehicle accident while on a shore excursion, a cruise operator will attempt to deflect responsibility by referring to:
- The waivers and/or releases you signed when booking your cruise, which usually include a blanket statement that the company is not liable for any injuries related to shore excursions;
- A disclaimer of liability, often included in marketing materials promoting shore excursions; or,
- Assumption of the risk, a legal concept that protects the operator because you admit that there is a strong possibility of suffering injuries.
With these factors in mind, you can see that a sound legal strategy is necessary if you were hurt in a transportation-related crash during a cruise excursion. Options include:
- The waiver or release is unenforceable because the language is conflicting or ambiguous;
- The cruise operator made misleading or false representations in marketing materials; or,
- Referring to federal maritime laws, which prohibit operators from limiting liability if the vessel stops in at least one US port.
Count on a Miami Cruise Ship Accidents Attorney for Legal Assistance
If you were hurt in a transportation-related collision or other accident while on a shore excursion, it is critical that you retain skilled legal representation to overcome legal challenges. At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our team focuses on cruise ship accidents, so we are prepared to fight for your rights. Please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL today to set up a free consultation about your options.