Millions of people take to the oceans, bays, harbors, and rivers as passengers aboard vessels. These passengers may be taking a tour, going from one place to another, or enjoying a family vacation. While these excursions are usually safe, negligence can take a good situation and turn it tragic. Boat passengers are injured aboard cruise ships, ferries, tour boats, dinner boats, and small cruise vessels every year. These individuals are not members of the vessel crew and are subject to different injury claims under maritime law. Mariner Law, PLLC can help.
Negligence by a vessel owner, vessel operator, crewmember, or fellow passengers can entitle cruisers to monetary compensation. The following are some incidents that can result in commercial passenger boat incidents:
Water slide accidents
Slippery conditions on deck
Shoreside excursion accidents
The bigger the ship, the more complex the amusement components—and the more room for shipboard negligence. While pool, hot tub, and water slide accidents have been common occurrences on cruise ships historically, today's cruise ships may also offer rock climbing, parasailing, snorkeling, hiking, scuba diving, go-karting etc. Whether on board or ashore, these activities can be hazardous if they are not done correctly.
If the staff of a cruise ship fail to exercise caution when handling and storing food, passengers can fall ill. Most instances of food poisoning are short-lived and quickly resolved; however, sometimes food poisoning can result in severe medical conditions with far-reaching implications.
A fire on any passenger vessel can lead to tragedy. Passengers can suffer heat-related injuries, burns, smoke inhalation damage, and wrongful death. If the fire isn’t contained quickly, there may be no place for passengers to seek safety. Cruise ship fires specifically are a recipe for disaster and can be more dangerous and devastating than fires on land or in a building. If the shipboard fire is heavy and uncontrolled, hundreds—if not thousands—of souls can be forced into lifeboats for escape. But emergency evacuation from a ship at sea is hardly ever a good outcome. Passengers can face drowning, hypothermia, dehydration, and even starvation while they wait for rescue. History is littered with stories of cruise ship passengers being hurt or killed using lifeboats. Panicked passengers are another significant safety risk during passenger vessel fires. Passengers can push, pull, and trample one another causing injuries and deaths.
Many crimes such as robbery, physical assault, sexual assault, and murder are statistically rare on passenger vessels. However, vessel owners may have a duty to act reasonably in preventing these incidents. And when they do occur, the vessel owner maybe liable for compensation to the injured party. Cruise ship passengers should exercise caution aboard ships. Research indicates that crimes aboard passenger ships are underreported. Incidents can result from interaction with overserved passengers or dangerous individuals (other passengers or crewmembers).
Nearly fifty percent (50%) of all claims for damages by passengers aboard vessels arise from slips and falls accidents on the ship itself. Occasionally, these damages occur because of:
Cluttered walking spaces in hallways and lobbies (often packed with luggage, furniture, and trash)
Even simple slip and fall cases may require extensive investigation to identify the unsafe condition and how it may have been prevented. There are specific rules and industry standards that may apply as well. It’s important to employ legal counsel that understand these issues and the operation of passenger vessels.
Jurisdiction and venue are fancy legal terms for where a case should properly be brought against a negligent vessel owner or operator. This can be a tricky determination for passenger injuries aboard passenger vessels of any kind. Federal law may allow passenger vessel owners to choose where they can be sued. They may also be allowed to change the time bar and notice of injury requirements. The devil is in the details. The fine print of a passenger’s ticket may cause these and other legal issues.
Suffering injury aboard a cruise ship, ferry, tour boat, or dinner cruise can be surprising and immediately concerning. Losing a loved one during what was supposed to be an enjoyable family cruise can also be life changing. You may not know where to start. That’s where Mariner Law, PLLC can help. A seasoned admiralty lawyer can help you understand the law and our options for compensation. But time may be working against you due to the terms of a passenger ticket. Calling a maritime lawyer as soon as possible after an accident is the first step toward your best result.
Mariner Law, PLLC is the maritime law firm for injured mariners—that includes ship passengers. As a small passenger vessel captain himself, Maritime Attorney Adam Deitz understands passenger safety. Call today for a free a free consultation with a Jones Act lawyer: (253) 600-2531. The firm proudly serves mariner clients in Washington, Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Alaska, and nationwide.