Cruise ship injury lawyers who sue Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Norwegian, and Disney often receive calls from passengers who have been injured aboard a ship by tripping over a high threshold, also known as a doorsill. I believe that high door sills are dangerous tripping hazards; they must be clearly marked, with warning signs posted on both sides of the thresholds throughout the ship to remind passengers to step high to avoid falling.
Cruise ships, like many other vessels, are required to have thresholds on certain doors to keep the ship watertight. However, those requirements must be balanced against the obligation that ship owners such as Carnival, RCCL, and Disney owe passengers to exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances of each case.” That means cruise ships must warn passengers of the thresholds–and in my opinion, do so repeatedly.
Sadly, every year many people trip and fall over high thresholds, door sills, and ramps, and those passengers are often seriously injured–because outside of ships, they are not used. People are simply not used to walking through a doorway and having to hurdle an elevated piece of iron or steel to get to the other side. The courts have found that high door sills are peculiar to travel at sea. In spite of this obviously dangerous condition, most cruise lines do little to nothing to warn passengers of the thresholds.
We have seen threshold-tripping injuries aboard cruise ships result in broken legs, arms, hands, and shoulders; one passenger even broke his nose and almost bled to death. Often the injured passenger is elderly or may have suffered from a pre-existing medical condition that makes the recovery more complicated and prolonged.
A passenger who trips and falls on a threshold and is injured may have a claim against the cruise line for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Typically, in these cases, we allege that the cruise line failed to warn the passenger of the danger of the elevated door sill. This is a difficult argument to make; the cruise ship’s defense is that these thresholds are “open and obvious” and that the passenger was simply not being careful–in other words that the fall is the fault of the passenger and not the cruise ship. This is often a compelling argument for the defense, as hundreds if not thousands of people have walked over the threshold every day without incident, suggesting that it must have been the passenger’s negligence or failure to walk carefully that was the cause of the fall.
When we sue Carnival for a trip and fall over a doorsill, it is important for us to determine how much alcohol, if any, our client may have consumed in the hours before the fall. Imbibing is very common, especially since people are on vacation and supposedly enjoying their time–drinking alcohol, lying out at the pool, gambling, and dancing in the numerous clubs and discos. Yet, this conduct, while encouraged aboard these ships, will be used to punish injured passengers by prejudicing the jury against them for engaging in those activities. The passengers are often blamed for being intoxicated or worse.
A lawsuit on behalf of an injured passenger against Carnival or any other cruise line must be filed in the Federal Court in Miami, which holds exclusive jurisdiction over maritime or admiralty claims onboard most ships. If you are hurt on a cruise ship, you should consult with an experienced admiralty lawyer to determine if you have a legitimate case, because not all injuries that occur on cruise ships are the fault of the cruise line.
It is important to know that the statute of limitations is only one year from the date of the incident. I am pleased to offer any potential client a free initial consultation. I have been helping people who have been hurt on cruise ships since 1991. Call me today at 1-866-597-4529, or email me to discuss your claim.