Understanding and Evaluating Cruise Ship Accident Claims
Every day our cruise ship accident claims lawyers in Miami investigate an incident involving a passenger injury that occurred on a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, or Norwegian vessel, where the person was hurt by slipping or falling during the cruise.
After suing cruise lines for nearly 25 years, I have learned that a number of facts are not only common to most cases but also important in evaluating how much a passenger injury claim is worth.
Common Cruise Ship Slip and Fall Accident Facts
Typically, a passenger gets hurt on a sea day–that is, a day when the ship is not in a port but rather moving in the open sea between ports. Often the claimants state that they were simply walking on the ship, in the buffet area, pool, or going between decks on one of the staircases when suddenly, without warning, they fell and were injured.
The most common injury we encounter is a broken arm, specifically the humerus bone, which seems to snap at the upper end, known as the surgical neck of the humerus. Those types of fractures often involve nerve damage and can be extraordinarily painful, frequently requiring surgery.
Why Falling On a Cruise Ship Is Not Necessarily A Case
Simply falling aboard a cruise ship does not mean that one is automatically entitled to receive money. That is because the most important factor in proving a case against a cruise ship is determining what the cruise line did wrong that “caused” or “contributed to” the incident. Therefore, when I investigate a potential Carnival cruise ship accident claim, the first question I always ask is, “What did the cruise line do wrong that caused the accident?”
It is not that I am not interested in knowing about the poor care the claimant received from the ship’s medical facility or how bad the food was in the buffet–but those simply are not issues that are relevant to proving a personal injury case against a cruise line like Carnival.
Unfortunately, many of the people who get hurt on cruise ships simply have no idea why they fell.
“Mrs. Smith, was the floor wet?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Was the floor slippery?”
“It must have been.”
“Yes, I am sure it must have been, but in a court case like yours, must-have-been’s are not sufficient. In fact the cruise line will try to get your entire case dismissed unless we can prove that your fall was their fault and not just it-must-have-been.”
And so a long period of time is spent unraveling the facts and witnesses in hopes of proving how a particular fall occurred. And when we cannot establish that cause, then a determination is made that we may not be able to get the injured person the full extent of compensation, i.e. money he or she might otherwise be entitled to.
Understanding Your Fall — CCTV
The most important element of evidence in understanding how and why a passenger was injured is often found in the ship’s closed circuit television system (CCTV) or surveillance video. However, in my experience as a lawyer who pursues cruise ship accident claims, most cruise lines claim there is no CCTV of an incident, unless they believe the footage will be helpful to their defense.
The first thing I do is ask for the CCTV footage every time–not just of the incident but also of the passenger being taken to and from the ship’s hospital, and even getting on and off the ship. In nearly 25 years of representing the injured, I have been provided that CCTV footage only a handful of times. And each time, the cruise line’s lawyer believes that whatever is contained on the video is favorable to the defense.
CCTV is not just crucial to proving that the fall actually occurred but to showing why. Therefore, we want to obtain the video of the hours and days of the location to show, for instance, how often the deck was inspected, maintained, repaired as well as how long any “transient substance” such as water, grease, or oil was left without being cleaned.
Weather Conditions–A Factor In Cruise Ship Accident Claims
The weather plays a significant role in a ship’s stability, a condition which may contribute to a passenger’s fall. Therefore, we have to determine the wind and wave conditions, which are much like the effects of turbulence on an airplane and are valuable in assessing factors that could have contributed to a fall. We work closely with maritime experts to read the ship’s data to prove that effect.
Earlier this year, a passenger aboard the MS Marco Polo–owned by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, a British-based cruise line–was killed after the ship was hit by a “freak wave during adverse sea conditions” in the English Channel.
If you have been hurt during a cruise, I am available to help you investigate and evaluate your potential claim. Currently we are representing passengers injured on Carnival, Royal Caribbean (RCCL), Celebrity, Disney, and Holland America Cruises. Please contact me today at 1-866-597-4529 for a free initial consultation. Most cruise lines have a six-month-notice requirement, with a one-year statute of limitations to file an actual lawsuit. We have had success in obtaining extensions of the statute of limitations, and we sue cruise lines like Carnival nearly every day. Let our experience in an out of the courtroom help you.