For nearly three decades, our cruise ship injury lawyer has represented passengers who have tripped, slipped, or fallen from gangways. Gangway accidents are one of the most common ways people get injured on cruise ships.
Gangways—the raised platforms or walkways that passengers and crew use to embark and disembark from the ship—pose certain and specific dangers due to a variety of factors. It’s important for the cruise lines that own the gangway to take the required safety precautions to minimize the risk of their passengers and employees.
Unfortunately, regular maintenance and inspection of gangways are not always conducted, leading to injuries and, in extreme cases, even death.
The type, size, and angle of the gangway in connection with the weather, sea, and tidal conditions are all factors to consider when embarking and debarking a ship.
Typical causes of gangway accidents include:
Slick gangway surfaces
Failure to warn of slippery conditions
A lack of non-slip tread
Poorly maintained vessel which results in leaks
A lack of training
Failed gangway wire rope
Change in weather or currents
Steep inclines and declines due to the gangway’s angle
Inadequate staffing leading to negligent supervision
Overcrowding of the gangway
Failure to monitor the number of passengers on the gangway
Failure to aid passengers during embarkation and debarkation
TYPES OF INJURIES
Injuries from the simplest slip and fall can sometimes be devastating due to the tight quarters of a ship. Gangway accidents can be much worse than others because the gangway is typically located high off the water or ground.
Common gangway injuries include:
Back and neck injuries
Traumatic brain injuries
Strains and sprains
Spinal cord injuries
CRUISE LINES MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO PURSUE A CLAIM
Cruise lines have a duty to provide safe passage to and from the ship for their passengers. Under general maritime law, the gangway is an extension of the ship. When cruise lines breach their duty of safe passage and people get hurt, compensation may be owed.
It isn’t always easy to get that compensation, however, which is why it’s best to speak with an injury attorney like Alan Sackrin before filing a claim. Not only do cruise lines have a one-year limit under which an injured passenger can pursue a legal claim, the court of law where the case can be heard is also limited.
GANGWAY CASES CAN BE COMPLICATED
As most gangway injury lawyers will tell you, injuries that occur on a cruise ship make for difficult cases. Most gangway accidents occur in foreign countries or are often just outside the jurisdictional limits of the U.S. If the accident occurred in a port of call outside the U.S., cruise lines will try to question the jurisdiction of the case. “Under federal admiralty jurisdiction over a negligence claim requires two conditions to be satisfied: 1) location and 2) connection with maritime activity.” (SEE: Crouch v. Carnival Corporation)
However, the good news is that maritime law extends to torts committed outside the ship. In Carey v. Bahama Cruise Lines, the court held “an injury to a cruise ship passenger caused by a sliding gangway that connected the cruise ship to a tender is a uniquely maritime injury.” Even if a ship is less than a foot from the dock, a safe passage must be provided. If these safety standards are ignored, the owner of the ship could be held liable for negligence.
CRUISE SHIP INJURY LAW REQUIRES SPECIFIC LEGAL KNOWLEDGE
It’s crucial to find a Fort Lauderdale cruise ship lawyer who has experience with cruise ship personal injury law, because it differs significantly from other areas of personal injury law. Those attorneys who are unfamiliar with maritime law may not know how to argue against sophisticated cruise line defenses.
One of the most common defense strategies a cruise line will use in a gangway injury case is that they cannot be found negligent because they had no knowledge of the underlying condition that led to the accident. For example, if there was a spill on a gangway and it had not been cleaned, the cruise line could argue that the spill had recently occurred, and no crew members were aware of it.
An experienced cruise ship injury attorney can help you understand your rights and get you the compensation you’re entitled to. In the example above, they’ll help you prove that 1) the cruise line had a duty to protect you from an injury; 2) the cruise line breached that duty; 3) the breach actually caused your injury; and 4) you suffered actual harm because of it.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a cruise ship, speak with an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer before you file a claim.
A personal injury lawyer like Alan Sackrin, who has taken on the cruise lines and is experienced in the practice of maritime law, can help you learn about some of the issues that can arise with your claim, including the type of evidence needed to prove your case and the type and amount of damages you can recover.
Alan offers a free initial consultation, over the phone or in person, to evaluate your claim and answer your questions.