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Norwegian Cruise Line and its CEO Frank del Rio seem focused on making the world’s third largest passenger cruise company number one, at least in Europe.  This week, NCL announced that for the first time in its 50-year history it will base five ships in Europe by the summer of 2017, including repositioning its newest ship, the Norwegian Getaway, from its current base at the Port of Miami, to a few miles from the cruise operator’s world headquarters to Copenhagen. The Getaway’s new itineraries will include Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and St. Petersburg, Russia. In addition to the Norwegian Getaway, NCL will be repositioning the Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Epic and the Norwegian Spirit.

As a lawyer who frequently sues NCL on behalf of passengers who are injured while aboard one of the ships, I find that most of our clients are surprised to learn that in order to make a claim against NCL, they must travel to Miami, Florida, to litigate their lawsuits in Federal Court–regardless of where they may be from, even if their cruise started and ended in Europe.   For example, Mrs. Berna Kellner was injured on an NCL cruise ship and had to travel to Miami for her deposition, a physical examination by NCL’s doctors, and a court-ordered mediation. In this post we will discuss the deposition process.

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Typically, the first time I meet clients face-to-face comes a day or two before they are required to give a deposition.  A deposition is supposed to be a sworn interview between NCL’s lawyers and an injured passenger, to gain a better understanding of the facts as to how and why a particular incident occurred.

I believe that hours of preparation with our clients are required before they are ready to be deposed, because many of the questions they will be asked can be and certainly seem to be very invasive and irrelevant to the situation that occurred on the ship.  If our clients are not properly prepared to anticipate these questions, and how to answer them, they can easily become angry or understandably insulted by the nature of the questions–or fail to answer them accurately, truthfully, or at all–thus destroying their cases.

For example, typically an NCL lawyer may ask about a person’s education, previous marriages, criminal history, medical history, employment history, former names, residences, and any other claims filed both before and after the accident on the Norwegian cruise ship.   Without proper preparation, a person–especially an elderly patient–may have easily forgotten the names of all of the medications taken on the day of the incident or a surgery that happened years earlier.

Frequently, incomplete answers or omitted bits of information are used to try to make the passenger look untruthful or motivated by greed rather than like a deserving victim of the cruise operator’s carelessness.  This is commonly referred to as the “Blame-the-Passenger Game,” a theme most cruise line lawyers employ when defending their clients–it’s always the passenger’s fault.

For example, if a deck is slippery and there are no wet-floor signs, when a passenger falls the cruise line will argue, “Of course it’s slippery–everyone knows that–and he or she was careless and the cause of his or her own fall.”  Conversely, when there are wet-floor signs, they will argue, “We posted wet-floor signs; it’s the passenger’s fault that he or she failed to see them.”  In other words, it’s always the passenger’s fault.

I have represented thousands of injured people for more than 25 years, and rarely have I encountered a cruise ship accident case where a defendant cruise line actually, willingly, and voluntarily accepts any responsibility for a passenger’s injury–even in part.   And candidly, most falls on cruise ships that I have investigated are not the injured passenger’s fault, but the result of a cruise line operator that simply put its profits ahead of its passengers’ safety.

In my analysis, I look at the cruise line’s actions before the incident occurred and ask, “What could have been done, what should have been done, and why was it not done?”  Almost inevitably the answer is it would have cost more money or time, which of course in the cruise industry also always equates to money.

If you have been injured on an NCL cruise ship anywhere in the world, I recommend that you consult with an experienced maritime personal injury lawyer.  Not only does NCL require that claims against it be filed within one year, but it also mandates that NCL be put on written notice of the claim before a lawsuit can be filed. The additional written-notice requirement can be easily missed by most passengers and even lawyers who do not specialize in this kind of law.

Call our office today and speak with an experienced lawyer about your potential claim. We are happy to provide you a free initial consultation by phone at 1-866-597-4529 or SKYPE or by email at [email protected] and help you understand whether or not you have a viable case.  Not all injuries aboard an NCL cruise ship are legitimate cases, as each set of facts is unique, given how, when, and why an injury occurred.  But you deserve to have a strong legal advocate on your side to help navigate a potentially stressful claims process.  We are ready to help you–call us today.