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Carnival Corp., as well as other cruise lines, has seen a marked increase in negligence lawsuits in recent months. During the first three months of 2018, at least 83 federal personal injury cases were filed against cruise lines, which is an increase from previous years. In 2017, 188 negligence lawsuits were filed, while 164 lawsuits were filed in 2016.

The factors that seem to fuel the rise include questionable medical care practices on the ships, as well as new shipboard attractions and onshore excursions, which include an added element of risk to passengers.

Lawsuits filed against the three biggest cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, account for 78 to 87 percent of federal litigation over the course of the past five years, according to Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics.

These cases include injuries due to slip-and-falls, as well as illnesses and injuries, some of them due to medical decisions made by the ship medical personnel.

One such incident occurred during a 2016 Royal Caribbean cruise where a passenger suffered from shortness of breath during the cruise, later dying. The family of the deceased passenger sued the cruise company as well as the ship’s doctor who they say ‘underdiagnosed’ the passenger’s heart attack, which delayed his treatment in a hospital in Alaska.

One concern is the lack of supplies that ship doctors have on-board. If a passenger is truly sick, the only real option these doctors have is to evacuate the ship to the closest port, which they are often hesitant to do.  Who can forget the hundreds of passengers recently struck with the dreaded Norovirus on a RCCL Ship?

Despite these concerns and the increase in lawsuits, popularity of cruise vacations remains strong.  If a medical malpractice or negligence lawsuit is filed due to improper treatment while on the ship, many of the cruise lines, who are foreign-flagged, use the traditional maritime law defense that the cruise liner has no liability for their medical staff, which can prove to be troublesome for those seeking recovery for their injuries.

In addition, the new excursions and features on cruise ships, such as zip-lines, have also led to more injuries to passengers both on and off the ship. The cruise lines offer these “adventures,” in hopes of attracting more passengers. The riskier the excursion, the higher the degree of liability, if an injury or fatality occurs. Some of the newer ships offer excursions that include mountain climbing, parasailing and more. They contract with onshore vendors to offer these opportunities, and these vendors are normally independent contractors. Many cruise lines will include express waivers for liability for onshore injuries in the fine print on the back of passenger tickets. Cruise line liability is often clearer for onboard activities, such as water slides and pools, but less so for activities offered by onshore vendors, such as parasailing, mountain climbing, and zip-lines. Cruise companies are held to the standard of reasonable care when selecting an independent contractor for shore excursions.


If you have been injured on your cruise, on a wet and slippery deck, down a poorly lit staircase or steep gangway, in port on an excursion, or on a tender boat- it is important that you speak as soon as possible with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims against cruise lines. Most cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, MSC, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Regents Seven Seas and Oceania require that claims against them be pursued in a very specific place under very strict deadlines. Failure to comply with each individual cruise lines deadlines can result in a complete loss of any and all legal rights.

Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a personal injury firm located in Miami, Florida since 1991.  We have fought hard to hold cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of passenger safety.  We are available 24/7 and encourage you to contact us even if you are still on your cruise. The sooner we can begin our investigation and preservation of key evidence, such as the CCTV footage of your trip and fall, slip and fall, assault or other type of injury the more likely we will be able to understand and prove how the incident occurred. Remember, the cruise lines have the most aggressive and well funded defense lawyers in the world- protecting their profits.  You need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement and pain and suffering.  Call us today and speak with a cruise ship claims lawyer about your potential claim- toll free 1-866-597-4529, 305-441-0440, or by email. We are ready to help.

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