I have spent more than 20 years helping people who have been injured aboard cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Silverseas, and Disney get money for their medical expenses, lost wages, and mental and physical pain and suffering.
Every day our Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers speak with people who have fallen, tripped, slipped, or even have been sexually assaulted while on board a cruise ship. Many of those seeking our help live outside of Florida and are from around the world. Currently we are helping injured passengers from Shanghai to San Diego who believe they have a right to sue their cruise line.
Building Mutual Trust With Your Attorney
I imagine that all the personal injury lawyers in Miami and the relationships they have with their clients are different. For me, the importance of establishing and building an ongoing relationship of trust and respect with my clients is absolutely crucial. Simply put, I have to believe them, I have to like them, and I have to understand them to help them. If I don’t believe, like, and trust them, I cannot win their cases. But the feeling must be mutual. In other words, the people I try to help must believe, trust, and like me. When this does not occur, I cannot win, and those people are simply better served by hiring someone else.
The First Client Meeting
As often as possible, I try to have my initial consultations with potential clients in person. But since most of our clients live outside South Florida or even the United States, it is almost always impractical. In those situations, we try to converse on SKYPE or by Facetime. Yet even that is not always an option–since the majority of our clients are over 65 years old and don’t have laptops or smartphones. And when they are recovering from surgery or broken bones, the last thing they want to do or can do is run down to the Apple Store and buy an iPad.
Without the first interaction and continued periodic face-to-face connections, I am at a distinct disadvantage in assessing and monitoring their recovery and veracity, and it becomes difficult to counsel them meaningfully on the process of suing a cruise company.
I commonly meet my clients in person for the very first time a day or two before they have to testify. This puts us both at a disadvantage since nothing can replace multiple a face-to-face meetings, either virtually or in person over the course of time to build an essential relationship of mutual trust and understanding.
Traveling to Miami for Cruise Ship Personal Injury Cases
Most cruise line tickets contain small print that requires every passenger injury lawsuit to be filed in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) Federal Court regardless of where the accident occurred or if the ship, passenger, or crew have ever been to Miami. This can be a startling realization for most people when they learn that they will need to make not one but several expensive and stressful trips to Miami to litigate their claims.
The first visit will be for their “plaintiff’s deposition.” A plaintiff’s deposition is basically an interrogation that occurs under oath in front of a court reporter with the Carnival or RCCL lawyers asking questions ranging from the color of their eyes to naming each and every doctor they have ever seen for any reason. For some of the people we try to help, this process can be a very frightening ordeal. I have sat through literally hundreds if not thousands of plaintiff’s depositions. Without a doubt, the better my client performs in her deposition, the more valuable her case will be to the cruise line’s claims adjuster and to the jury.
A poor deposition performance by a plaintiff can lead to a summary judgment, defense verdict, or–even worse–sanctions and the dismissal of their case. Accordingly, I spend an inordinate amount of time preparing the clients for this stage as it can and often does make or break a personal injury case. It is not uncommon for me to spend days preparing my clients for a deposition that may last only a few hours.
The trust-building nature of our relationship is even more difficult to establish when there are cultural and language differences. I speak fluent Italian and English and enough Arabic and French to get me into trouble. But when I am presented with an injured passenger from China, Romania, or Pakistan, my job is far more challenging. We use interpreters to ensure that the client understands the question as well as that we understand the answer. But it’s just not the same as when we all speak the same language, so in those cases, time is needed. Meals are shared and other tools are used to create what I view as an essential bond.
In our next installment of this series we will look closely at the discovery process, including interrogatories, request for production, and the deposition.
FREE CRUISE SHIP ACCIDENT LEGAL CONSULTATION
If you want to know more about suing a cruise company, please email me, Spencer Aronfeld, or call my office toll-free at 1-866-597-4529 for a free initial consultation. For more than 20 years I have fought hard to hold cruise companies accountable when they put their profits ahead of their passengers’ safety.