Trials are the surgery of last resort for good lawyers for cruise line accidents. In other words, going to trial means that all attempts to investigate the facts and evidence and demonstrate the emotional, physical, and financial damages of an injured passenger have not been persuasive enough to convince the cruise company’s lawyers and insurance company to pay whatever amount the plaintiff and her lawyer think is reasonable. One thing is sure: one side is wrong.

The Trial

Cases that go to trial are presented to eight jurors at the Federal Courthouse in Miami (regardless of where the accident occurred). That assumes the case gets past a Federal Judge by overcoming all of the cruise line’s efforts to have the case dismissed based upon an endless list of legal technicalities.

Frequently, as an experienced maritime passenger injury claim lawyer, I see the case very much the same way as the cruise line’s lawyer–once all of the cards are on the table. But rarely does either side show its entire hand. And the cruise line is the side holding the most cards, in that it is far more difficult and expensive for me to obtain facts, interview, and depose witnesses and find out what happened and why than it is for the defendant’s counsel.


For example, in a typical trip and fall case against Carnival, by the time the case gets to me, it could be weeks or months after the incident. Carnival would have already investigated the accident, taken witness statements (most of which come from crewmembers), reviewed CCTV footage of the incident, checked the passenger’s bill for alcohol consumption and other purchases, and reviewed whether or not she got off at different ports.

When deciding the value of a case, the defendant’s counsel will have investigated, interrogated, and engaged a physician to examine the passenger making the injury claim. For more information about this process, please read Five Things You Need to Know to Win Your Cruise Ship Accident Case–(Part Two: “Truth”). And often for the passenger’s counsel to get the same level of information will require tens of thousands of dollars in depositions and travel to far off ports of call to find the crewmembers and other witnesses that seemingly have scattered across the globe.


Cruise accident plaintiffs and their lawyers, like me, often see things the way they want to. I live with the people I try to help, metaphorically speaking, during the time from their first call to the end of their case. That includes late night phone calls, meals, visits to their doctors, and meetings with their family and friends. So I have a more profound understanding of the effects of their shipboard accident. It is both a blessing and a curse–since it changes how I feel about the value of the case.

If I witness them having difficulty taking care of themselves and their family, working, or going to school, that increases the amount I think their case is worth. This is something the defense lawyer may never see or want to see (except by video surveillance); that reality may cause us to value the case differently. Likewise, if the surveillance video shows the client effortlessly shopping at Kim Kardashian’s store on South Beach–an hour after testifying about uncontrollable pain and disability from slipping on a Royal Caribbean ship–it will change the defense lawyer’s estimate of the value of the case . . . but not mine, unless the defense produces the video.

In the end, the trial is an enormous risk for the injured and her family. In all but the most extreme and blatant cases, there is always a chance that a jury will find no fault at all on the part of the cruise line or that it will a return a verdict that is less than the pretrial offer, or that the costs of the trial will exceed the amount of recovery. Comparing the financial resources of a cruise line to those of the average passenger is much like comparing the resources of our country to the average citizen’s. In other words, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America can afford to pay virtually any verdict without any appreciable change in their corporate bottom line, while the results of the trial can have profound impact upon the hurt plaintiff, who may be forced into bankruptcy, lose her home, or not attain much-needed medical attention.


All of the challenges above notwithstanding, I do enjoy trying cases. I love the courtroom and the theatrics. I like the attention and the challenge of standing up in front of strangers to tell them a story I have developed through my hard work and investigation, to try to help someone. I like the dynamic of the David vs. Goliath themes that are present in most of these types of claims. But rarely is this “show” and risk in the best interest of the plaintiff, unless all other efforts have failed.

This is perhaps the only tool, or weapon, the injured passenger has–a case and a lawyer who believes in it enough, and who has the skill and passion to deliver that message when and if needed. Much like a small country that has a strong army, it is the best way to keep peace with the neighbors.


If you have had an accident while cruising, call me. I would like to help. Most of the cases we see involve slip and falls, trip and falls, and sexual assaults that occur on board Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and MSC Cruises. We proudly provide free initial no-fee/no-cost consultations via SKYPE, email, or Toll-Free at 1-866-597-4529.