Maritime Boating Accidents

Many different types of accidents happen on the water, whether the accident happens while in your capacity as an employee working in the maritime industry or recreationally on a cruise or pleasure craft. Boats, just like other types of motor vehicles, may have accidents. For example, a boat could collide with another boat, a rock or a sea animal and the danger to those on the boat can be significant. The boat could capsize, flood or sink. A person could fall overboard or be hurt in an explosion that is triggered by the accident. Similarly, the sea could become unpredictably rough or an unexpected storm could develop causing accidents. Numerous things can cause cruise ship accidents. Cruise ships are subject to the same dangers as other boats in terms of having accidents. However, the extensive kitchens and recreational facilities that are present on cruise ships also make cruise ships susceptible to other types of accidents. A cruise ship operator must exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers, in accordance with maritime law (also called admiralty law), and will be held liable for passenger injuries caused by negligence or willful actions (regardless of fault or intent).

Injured cruise ship passengers typically must put the cruise line on notice within 6 months of the accident and file any claims for damages within one (1) year in the state indicated on the back of the ticket, regardless of the location of the incident or the passenger’s home residence. Injured passengers can usually sue the operators of cruise ships for injuries caused by employees, although courts differ on this issue.

Beware of the Fine Print

Most of what you need to know, with respect to a ship operator’s liability and where lawsuits may be filed, is printed on the back of the ticket or on a form you sign or are given when registering the first day at port. By purchasing the ticket and boarding the ship, you legally consent to its terms. You may see a limited liability waiver (such as a clause releasing the operator from liability for emotional distress), a forum-selection clause, and a notice-requirement clause.

A forum-selection (or venue) clause indicates the state in which a lawsuit may be filed, typically Florida, where most major cruise lines are headquartered (even if the ship itself is registered in another country). And despite its obvious inconvenience to plaintiffs living in other parts of the country, most courts have upheld these clauses as reasonable.

A notice-requirement clause requires the injured passenger to file a claim for damages within the time period stated in the contract usually six (6) months. Maritime law allows a relatively generous three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This notice-requirement clause may shorten the window to 12 months for physical injuries, and even shorter (potentially just days after the incident) for non-physical injuries.

This just goes to show that it’s a good idea to read the back of your cruise ship ticket before boarding.

Seek Legal Help Right Away, Don’t Wait

The notice requirements and statute of limitation periods are short for cruise ship accidents, so you need to act fast. A cruise ship injury can not only ruin your vacation, but can lead to a long recovery process and time away from work. In order to receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, it is in your best interests to file an injury claim against the company responsible right away. To learn more about the strength of your claim, call us now.

Contact Our Coral Gables Professional Attorneys

To discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers in an FREE initial consultation, call us toll free at 305-461-4880 or Contact us online. We welcome all major credit cards.

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