Cruise ships leave Florida ports on a regular basis, full of passengers expecting to have a good time. However, tragic cruise ship accidents can occur, leading to fatalities. For example, from 2000 to 2018, 284 individuals on cruise ships have fallen overboard. This amounts to 1.5 individuals on average falling overboard every month. The cruise ship industry and other groups state that such incidents occur when the victims are being irresponsible, for example, when they are intoxicated or careless. However, others claim this is a pressing problem in the industry that is being ignored.
Ships must have railings that are at least 39 inches high. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, this makes it so that people only fall overboard if they are acting recklessly and or purposely jump overboard. The CLIA claims that there are zero known incidents of responsible cruise ship passengers falling over the ship's railings. However, one academic expert states that over the past 18 years, 325 individuals on cruise ships and large ferries have fallen overboard despite the vessels having the requisite railings in place.
According to some, this means that the cruise ship industry needs to do more to protect passengers who act negligently from falling overboard. This is in step with other aspects of modern life in which parties must anticipate irresponsible behavior and take the necessary measures to prevent it. For example, laws exist mandating that those who sell alcohol must cut off a patron who is clearly drunk, and the business that is furnishing alcohol to the intoxicated individual could be liable if the drunk individual ends up harming a third party. In addition, technology exists that would immediately and automatically notify the ship's employees that someone has fallen overboard, allowing them to act in a timely manner.
As this shows, many cruise ships may be lagging in efforts to prevent overboard incidents from happening. If a person falls overboard after being served too much alcohol or for other reasons, and there are insufficient protections on the ship to keep people from falling overboard, a person could easily lose their life. When that happens, the victim's survivors may want to determine if they can file a wrongful death claim to compensate them for the losses they suffered.