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When Cruise Ship Vacations Turn Deadly

Recently, a thirty-nine year old on a seven-day cruise aboard the Carnival Magic fell from his cabin balcony, landing three decks below on an open deck. The man was pronounced dead shortly after his fall. Although it would seem that accidents and fatalities on cruise ships are rare, in fact, our Miami cruise ship accident lawyers know they occur more often than you would think. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive database that informs the public about how often such accidents occur. Cruise lines, although based in the United States, typically incorporate and register their ships overseas. As a result, cruise lines are only obligated to report accidents to the state under whose laws the ship operates. This means there is a serious shortage of statistics on Miami cruise ship accidents, with one notable exception.

Ross A. Klein, a Canadian professor of sociology with dual citizenship in America, spent over 300 days on cruises for a span of ten years, between 1992 and 2002. Mr. Klein noted that there were serious discrepancies between what the cruise ship industry told the public and what he observed. Since that time, Mr. Klein has found himself in front of House of Representatives and Senate panels, testifying about the oversights he personally observed regarding the cruise ship industry as a whole. Mr. Klein further became an avid collector of news reports regarding collisions and accidents at sea and even spoke to many crew members and passengers about what goes on behind the scenes of an outwardly happy cruise ship vacation. Klein noted the following:

• Loss of power on a cruise ship is relatively common, although it typically lasts no longer than a few hours.

  • Approximately three to four times a year, a cruise ship conducts a preparation to abandon the ship, although actual abandonment is rare. These preparations to abandon are usually in response to a fire or other serious event on the ship.
  • Fires are not that unusual on cruise ships, with at least seven or eight per year.
  • Between 1972 and 2011, nearly one hundred cruise ships ran aground and during that same period about sixteen cruise ships sank.
  • An average of ten to twenty people fall overboard each year while on a cruise ship.

Miami Cruise Ship Accident Injuries

Although many injuries suffered by cruise ship passengers may be minor, there are thousands of passengers injured on cruise ships each year and a significant number of these accidents are serious. Injuries include fractured or broken bones from slip and falls, food poisoning, falls overboard resulting in severe trauma or death, and swimming pool accidents, as well as a variety of other injuries. Unfortunately for the victims, it can be difficult to collect damages from cruise lines because of the complex international incorporation and registration. This is compounded by the fact that most cruise lines insert a one-year statute of limitations clause in the passenger's contract and tickets.

Further, almost all cruise lines require that actions be filed in the United States District Court, Southern District, Miami Division, part of the federal court system. Attorneys who litigate on behalf of their clients to recover damages for cruise ship injuries must have specialized knowledge of federal court rules; therefore, there are relatively few lawyers who take cruise line accident cases. However, it is critically important to hold cruise lines responsible for the safety of their passengers and accountable for negligent acts.

Important Tips to Remember If You are Injured While on a Cruise

If you have suffered a cruise ship accident, there are several things to keep in mind to maximize the likelihood of receiving compensation for your injuries. First, rather than allowing the cruise line to drop you off in a Mexican or Caribbean port to take care of your injuries try to remain in the ship until you return to the United States, if at all possible. Second, as with any accident, obtain names and contact information of any witnesses to your accident, and write down every detail you can remember about your accident. Third, read the terms of your passenger ticket, there may be time-sensitive requirements. In some cases, you are required to notify the negligent cruise line of your intention to seek compensation within six months of the accident. Finally, be prepared to travel to Miami for your lawsuit.

Hire an Experienced Miami Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer

The attorneys of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have the specialized knowledge and skills necessary to successfully litigate your cruise ship personal injury case and have been recognized by nationwide peer review organizations such as Martindale Hubbell ("AV" rated) and by Primerus. With more than 100 years of experience fighting for the rights of clients, our lawyers are among those voted South Florida's top-rated lawyers by the Miami Herald and will work hard to ensure that you receive an equitable settlement for your injuries. Call (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 today for an evaluation of your case or go to our website for more information.

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