Cruise ships and the laws they abide by are very different from those that govern the land. In fact, maritime laws actually favor cruise ship companies. The required burden of proof is much bigger for a person who was injured on a cruise ship than it would be if the same incident happened on land. In fact, a cruise ship accident can involve state laws, federal laws, maritime laws and foreign laws. Below are recommended things you should do in the event of an accident onboard a cruise ship.
Immediately Report the Injury
Any injuries should be immediately reported to the ship’s crew. You should also report to the onboard medical center. Failure to report injuries will not destroy your case, but it can have an impact on it.
A boating accident is typically caused by insufficient security, failure to uphold reasonably safe conditions or failure to follow policies and procedures. Should you be injured, it is very important that you document everything. For example, if you slipped and sliced your hand on a frayed metal edge, make sure you take pictures of the area. Do not rely on the cruise ship personnel to take honest photographs of the accident site. Often, the staff is instructed to correct the issue before taking pictures. Alternatively, having seen you fall, the staff may have inadvertently fixed the problem to prevent others from being hurt before pictures could be taken. This can skew evidence and make you appear at fault. Be guarded in what you say in your Guest Injury Statement. The cruise company’s lawyers likely developed this form; it can be used against you.
Read and Retain Your Ticket
You may not realize it, but when you agree to the ticket purchase, you sign over implied consent to any policies the cruise company has. In many cases, this affects the timeline for filing injury claims. For example, three years is the typical statute of limitations for accidental injury claims under maritime law. However, by agreeing to the terms of your ticket purchase, the cruise company can actually limit this time to just one year. This may seem like ample time. However, given the amount of proof you will need to provide as well as the numerous laws that will need to be navigated, this timeframe is extremely short.
Talk to a Lawyer
Cruise ship accidents are complicated. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate these often-muddy waters. It is very important that you speak with a lawyer as soon as you return from your cruise. Cruise ships are often registered in foreign countries. This can hinder the legal process and slow your claim down. Obtaining experienced legal counsel for any cruise ship accident it highly advised.