Cruise lines issue each passenger a cruise ship ticket that the law recognizes to be a binding contract between the cruise line company and that passenger. The language on the passenger ticket has been written to benefit of the cruise line. Passengers need to know that this language discusses the time deadlines for filing any lawsuit or claim against the cruise line, if one were to occur.
“Cruise ship vacations are fantasy trips and it goes against that dream getaway to think that you need to read and review carefully every word on your passenger ticket for your cruise. However, that cruise ship passenger ticket is a legally binding contract and everyone getting on board a cruise ship needs to know that ticket is their bargain with their cruise line hosts.”
On the cruise ship ticket, passengers will find paragraphs that state the deadline for them to assert any claims against the cruise line company. Unlike in the statute of limitations for company liability on land, the deadline to file a claim against a cruise line is ONE YEAR after the date of the incident. For example, if you were injured on August 1, 2010, then you have until July 31, 2011 to file your claim.
Florida’s statute of limitations and the federal maritime statutes of limitations will not give you more time. The passenger ticket is considered a contract, and under contractual law you will be held to agree to this short, one year time deadline to file your lawsuit.
The passenger ticket may also require that you provide the cruise line company with a written notice of claim within six months of the injury. If you fail to send this notice to the company, they will use it against you. However, it is not held to legally bar you from filing your lawsuit if you do so within the one year time frame defined on the passenger ticket.
People vacationing on a cruise ship can become injured, sometimes very seriously, in many different ways. As Fort Lauderdale Cruise Ship injury lawyers we have seen claims based upon things like:
1. The Doctor on the Cruise Ship May Not Be an Employee of the Cruise Line
Passengers need to know that the cruise line does not hire its medical staff as salaried employees. It is very likely that anyone hurt on a cruise ship vacation will be cared for by a doctor that is an independent contractor to the cruise line. This is a legal protection that the cruise ship can use to protect itself from the doctor’s errors and mistakes as the doctor’s employer. Thus, passengers should not assume that they will be provided with top-of-the-line medical care in the case of emergency on a cruise ship.
Example: the cruise ship passenger who died from blood loss resulting from a cut she got from her bathroom water glass because the cruise ship’s medical personnel did not understand the need to rush her to emergency treatment.
2.The Cruise Line’s Security Force Is Not a Police Department: There is No Official Law Enforcement on a Cruise Ship
Cruise lines are for-profit companies and they may or may not be American companies. They do not have a police force, so if there is a serious crime (like rape or assault) the cruise line’s security team will be all that you will have to help and protect you. It is only when you return to a port that official, experienced, and trained law enforcement will be available to investigate the crime.
Example: the cruise ship passengers who were robbed by bandits during a Mexican cruise in February 2012; also see the details given during Senate Committee testimony on Cruise Industry security concerns in March 2012.
3.The Law That Applies May Not Be American Law
Cruise lines are owned by companies, and these companies may be incorporated in one or a number of countries. It may well be American law, the law of a foreign law, and the law of international waters, that controls your claim. When you sue the cruise line for negligence following your assault, for example, you may file in a federal Miami court but the law that defines the crime and sets the punishment may not be Florida law at all.
Example: the Italian cruise ship accident that made international headlines may have many of its claims barred by the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, even though the Costa Concordia cruise ship running aground was obviously the fault of someone (like the captain) who was responsible for its operations.
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Fort Lauderdale, Florida Trial Lawyers Helping People Hurt on Cruise Ships with Injury Cases
Florida trial lawyer Alan Sackrin is a Board Certified trial specialist with over 30 years of courtroom and settlement negotiation experience. The Florida Trial Lawyers at Sackrin & Tolchinsky help people who live in Florida as well as in other parts of the country and the world who have been hurt on cruise ships and need to file claims or law suits against cruise lines for the injuries they have sustained on a cruise ship.
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