Injured cruise ship passengers face some of the most difficult legal hurdles of all personal injury cases. For example, when someone slips and falls on a cruise ship, most cruise lines require any potential lawsuit be filed within one year of the date of the incident. This often shocks the injured who, by the time they get home, get settled and recover sufficiently, have barely begun to consider filing a claim.
For example, we recently represented an elderly woman who was severely injured during a Western Caribbean cruise. Her accident occurred as she was being transported from her cruise ship’s tender to the Island’s port. Her injury required emergency medical care and prolonged hospitalization before she was able to fly home. Months had passed before she even considered consulting an attorney. When she did, her lawyer, not familiar with the statute of limitations that applies to these types of cases, began a negotiation with the cruise ship company.
First the company assigned an amicable adjuster who requested documents to verify the injury. Then they asked for copies of passports, medical bills, photographs, x-rays, and insurance reports. It took months for the lawyer to obtain the requested documents, especially the records of her hospital admission on the Island.
Fortunately for the lady and her lawyer, she contacted our cruise ship passenger injury law firm in Miami before the one-year statute of limitations had passed. The lawyer was surprised to learn that had a few more months of negotiation failed to resolve the case–and I have no doubt it would have been fruitless–our client would have lost forever her legal rights to sue the cruise ship.
In addition, even though the accident transpired hundreds of miles from Miami’s Federal Court and the injured lady had never been to Miami, the law required that the law suit be filed here. It also mandated that she travel to Miami to testify, be subjected to a physical examination by a doctor of the cruise line’s choosing, and attend mediation here.
Unlike virtually every other personal injury claims in Florida–such as a slip and fall, car or Truck Accident or even medical malpractice–Admiralty cases do not recognize the loss of consortium of the injured passenger’s spouse. This can often be considerable, especially when the non-injured spouse relies on his or her spouse to provide services, comfort, and support.
Recently our lawyers filed the very first personal injury case against Carnival Cruise lines for the pain and suffering of Lisa Williams, who was a passenger on the ill-fated Carnival Triumph. The case was filed in Miami’s Federal District Court, and Carnival asked that it be dismissed. I am proud to report that Brandon Stein, an excellent and experienced cruise accident lawyer in our office, was successful in defeating Carnival’s motion, which now will allow the case to proceed to trial.
If you have experienced an injury while aboard a cruise ship, it is crucial to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your legal rights. Our law firm is pleased to offer free consultations to any passengers who believe they have a potential cruise ship injury case. To learn more about the limited legal rights of cruise ship passengers please read my recent blog for the Huffington Post, “Why Cruise Lines Aren’t Accountable to Their Passengers.”