Anyone who has ever been injured as a passenger on a cruise ship and tries to sue them soon learns that companies like Carnival Cruise Lines are shielded by complex international laws and very specially crafted wording hidden in contracts contained in their passenger tickets.
The Convention of Limitation on Liability for Maritime Claims is often considered an impenetrable force-field that limits liability for cruise ship owners after accidents. It can only be set aside in cases of egregious acts by the ship’s owners. Claimants have to prove that the accident resulted from the personal act or omission with the intent to cause the accident and with knowledge that damage would result.
In the case of the Costa Concordia, Captain Schettino’s conduct is arguably not the responsibility of the ship’s owners, Carnival Cruise Lines. Though the modern technology available to cruise line owners to track their vessels around the world in real-time would make it seem that Carnival knew or should have known precisely what Captain Schettino and their ship were doing when he changed course.
Injured passengers in the Costa Concordia case have now learned that buried in their ticket was a limitation of liability clause that limited both personal injury, death and property loss to only $71,000 per passenger. Since the Concordia did not use a U.S. Port of Call, all claims have to be brought in Genoa, Italy.
Most U.S. cruise ships require claims to be brought in the Southern District of Florida within one year of the accident. Our Miami cruise line accident law firm is currently representing injured cruise ship passengers from across the country including both California and New York who were injured at sea. Those cases are all in Federal Court in Miami.
Carnival requires that all claims be made in writing to the company within 185 days after the date of the injury, event, illness or death and any related lawsuit has to be filed within one year. If you are injured while taking a cruise, do not hesitate to contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights. If the claim is not made timely and in accordance with the passenger ticket, your case may be dismissed.
Here is an example of a Carnival Passenger ticket/contract.