People love cruise ship vacations. At its peak, the global cruise industry serviced 30 million people in a single year. It took 1.8 million mariners to care for that many passengers and added$154 billion to the world economy. While cruises are growing in popularity across the board, Americans still make up the majority of ridership with as many as 14 million passengers a year.
Cruise lines evoke romantic visions of sunshine, sandy beaches, beautiful scenery, and time with loved ones. Unfortunately, not every cruise ends well for passengers and crewmembers. The following accidents happen all too often:
Tender Boat Problems
Slip and Fall
Onboard Medical Malpractice
Inadequate Safety Equipment
Most cruise ship injuries would be avoidable with reasonable and prudent measures by vessel owners, crewmembers, and other industry workers. Defective equipment can result from manufacturing issues, improper preventive maintenance, and failure to make timely repairs. Resultant injuries may include:
Neck and Back Injuries
Many peoples’ minds go straight to Florida when they think about the cruise industry, but cruise ships operate out of every corner of the United States. For example, New York, Seattle, and Juneau remain three of the busiest cruise ports in the country.
For shipboard employees, the location of your injury can be relevant to where you file your injury claim. But for passengers, sometimes the jurisdiction where you are required to lodge your personal injury case may be a surprise. That’s why it’s important to talk to an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible. And time may be of the essence. Cruise ship operators are infamous for requiring tight timelines to report injuries and submit claims.
While the cruise industry is dominated by ocean-going large cruise ships, the small cruise ship industry grows in popularity every year. These ships navigate smaller towns in scenic areas along the bays, harbors, and inland rivers of the United States. Small cruise ships are popular in Oregon, Washington, New York, Connecticut, and Alaska on bodies of water such as:
Hudson River in New York
Snake River in Oregon
Columbia River in Washington and Oregon
Puget Sound in Washington
New England Port Towns
Cruise ship passengers injured on ships both big and small should check with a seasoned maritime lawyer to determine whether they have a claim for compensation. Passenger injury claims are typically subject to general maritime law. That means that vessel owners and cruise ship operators have a duty to act reasonably towards their passengers under the circumstances. If they breach that duty, they might be liable for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and—in certain circumstances—punitive damages. These and other remedies may be available under the Jones Act, LHWCA, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure.
Cruise shipboard employees may be entitled to more benefits than passengers. The Jones Act entitles maritime employees to a safe place to work. If the seaman is hurt on the job, he or she is entitled to maintenance and cure to cover certain medical expenses and some costs of living until reaching maximum medical improvement. Otherwise, the seafarer may also have a claim for lost wages and pain and suffering if the injury was caused by the maritime employer’s negligence or an unseaworthy condition aboard the vessel.
Whether being hurt as a passenger or being hurt on the job as a mariner, cruise ship injuries can be life changing. They can cost you income, leave you disabled, and prevent you from doing the things you once enjoyed. But cruise line companies can be crafty and maritime law is complex. Choose an experienced maritime attorney that knows the law and the industry. Call Mariner Law, PLLC at (253) 600-2531 for a frank discussion of your case and your options with a seasoned Jones Act lawyer. The firm serves Washington, Oregon, Alaska, New York, and Connecticut.