Published on:

On Monday during a shore excursion sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines, 32 passengers became injured when their tour bus wrecked on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. The circumstances around the incident itself are still under investigation, however it was confirmed that this was a single-vehicle accident.

Carnival-Cruise-Line-Shore-Excursion-Rollover-300x169
Last year, Leesfield Scolaro represented a large group of people in a lawsuit against Carnival after their Bahamas tour bus flipped over which caused injuries ranging from superficial to life-altering. That incident, along with many other incidents involving shore excursion tour buses, was caused by an inexperienced and unlicensed driver, which both the tour operator and the cruise line had failed to vet, placing passengers’ lives at risk. The police investigation, supported by forensic evidence, showed that the bus driver was speeding on a dirt road. The reckless operator lost control of the vehicle, and it ultimately flipped over, throwing out many passengers in the process.

For over two decades, Leesfield Scolaro has litigated countless cases against the major cruise lines due to their negligence – often times indefensible disregard toward their passengers’ safety – in selecting and vetting safe shore excursion operators and equipment. Attorneys Ira H. Leesfield and Adam T. Rose recently explained in an article how to hold Cruise Lines liable for injuries sustained during shore excursions, regardless of the fact that Cruise Lines will fight vigorously to avoid liability and hide under the “independent operator” table.

Published on:

According to reports, half a dozen Princess Cruise passengers have died in a horrific mid-air collision incident. The tour – Misty Fjords National Monument by Seaplane (with Wilderness Landing) – was booked through Princess Cruises, either on board or on Princess Cruises’ website.

taquan-air-300x188

Photo from Taquan Air’s website – Taquan Air was involved in the mid-air collision over Alaska on May 13, 2019

The investigation into the circumstances and causes of the collision are already under way with teams from the Coast Guards, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board already on scene.

Published on:

Lila Gale and her family were set to cruise in the Caribbean aboard the MS Zuiderdam when she sustained a stroke within 100 miles of Florida. The symptoms she displayed left no room for error and the Holland America Line (HAL) doctor diagnosed her with having sustained a stroke within minutes.

Lila-Gale-John-Gale-300x169
With the severity of the condition, coupled with the proximity of the ship to Broward Health Medical Center – a comprehensive stroke center in Fort Lauderdale – a medical evacuation had to be ordered and implemented without delay. Instead, Lila received the most odious and deplorable treatment from HAL which ultimately doomed her health, causing irreversible brain damage.

Upon arrival to the ship’s infirmary, Lila was noted to be confused, drowsy and with slurred speech. A provisional diagnosis of “severe stroke” was made. At this very moment, a medical air-evacuation was both medically necessary and operationally feasible. However, against all common emergent medicine sense and standards, HAL’s doctor, Dr. Socrates Lopez did not order a medevac. Instead he intubated Lila and observed her health deteriorate for the next two hours without attempting to further treat his patient.

Published on:

According to CLIA, an estimated 27.2 million passengers cruised around the world in 2018. As a maritime and cruise injury law firm, Leesfield Scolaro evaluates close to a thousand potential cases every year where a passenger became injured during a cruise. Below are answers and common-sense guidance for cruise passengers who fell victims to cruise lines’ negligence:

Where do I sue?

Most cruise lines require that passengers file their personal injury lawsuit in Federal Court, in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) where the biggest cruise lines are headquartered. The most notable exceptions are Holland America Line (Seattle) and Princess Cruise Line (California).

Published on:

zipline-300x225Awful cruise line news broke last week about a newlywed couple who collided with each other during a zip line tour in Roatan, Honduras, resulting in death and injuries. The individuals involved in the incident, an Israeli couple, were celebrating their honeymoon with a cruise vacation on Royal Caribbean’s vessel Allure of the Seas. Sadly, it is a scene repeated all too often.

Cruise lines, which form a $40 billion dollar a year industry, derive substantial profits from shore excursions which they market and sell to passengers as part of the cruise vacation experience. Passengers should be very cautious before deciding to go on a cruise sanctioned shore excursion, as many of the basic safety standards and regulations mandated in the United States go absent or unenforced in foreign cruise ports of call.

In the last few years there have been many injuries and deaths from zip lining incidents during a cruise line shore excursion. In fact, several such incidents have occurred before in Roatan, Honduras. In 2015 a passenger on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas was horrifically injured while zip lining in Roatan on a zip line that was negligently operated with too much slack in the line. In 2009 a passenger on a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel plummeted to her death when a zip line cable in Gumbalimba Park, Honduras, snapped in mid air. There have been many other instances of death and injury from zip lining in other foreign ports of call, normally from faulty equipment and excursion operator error.

Published on:

An increased number of cruise ship accidents/incident remains unreported and often absent from the accountability of the civil justice system. Unexpected cruise ship injuries and events are prompted by fierce industry expectations. This is really an issue of cruise industry economics where the vessels no longer sell just the cruise experience, but rather, provide more added dangerous related activities to boost sales. There are more “thrills” available resulting in more injury and deaths.

The modern cruise ship can be a floating city of 6,000 people. There are no police or security forces, no limit on alcohol consumption and practically no limit on the ingenuity of the cruise lines to provide “theme park” activities. Consider for a moment, a small town of 6,000 with no rules, no control of alcohol consumption, poor medical care, and total lack of structure to heighten “fun”.

trunks_birds
Aboard ship, there are multiple opportunities for serious injury. The walkways, pavement surfaces and common hallways are often wet, slippery or unmaintained, host for injuries to the senior citizen passenger population. The passengers, including unsupervised children, are invited to dangerous water slides, competitive sports, rock climbing, basketball, tennis, parasailing, jet ski, snorkeling/scuba diving excursions, bus excursions and a myriad of ways for passengers to get hurt without any supervision. Food and alcohol abound! Drinks are unlimited and passengers are over served, often creating a carnival like atmosphere. When the inebriated passenger meets an unmonitored condition, danger is created. Food and foreign substances fall off overflowing buffet plates and onto the floor. Pools, hot tubs and water activities make decks slippery and unsafe.

Published on:

Cruise lines and recreational activity providers market their products as gateways to fun and adventure, but when injury occurs, they will vigorously fight to avoid liability. But there are ways to overcome their defenses.

By Ira H. Leesfield and Adam T. Rose

Leesfield-Scolaro-Petition-2-300x188Outdoor recreation is a titanic industry, enticing millions of people annually to travel close to home or pack their bags for a faraway adventure. Entrepreneurs across the world capitalize on their regions’ natural beauty and create exotic excursions to attract vacationers. Meanwhile, corporate powerhouses—major resorts and cruise lines—recognize the allure of exciting experiences in unfamiliar environments, and they aggressively advertise and oversee these adventures. But when tragedy strikes—such as jet ski crashes, scuba diving drowning, all-terrain vehicle accidents, etc.—the same tour operators and vacation providers who courted your client fervently try to avoid accountability.

Published on:

Tour-bus-crash-01With the main cruise ship companies based in Miami, Leesfield Scolaro has represented countless families of cruise passengers who lost their lives or who were gravely injured while on a cruise excursion.  Whether a son killed in a bus accident in front of his parents on their way to an excursion, or a mother fatally injured and daughter sustaining extreme brain damage during a parasailing excursion, or a husband drowning during a snorkel excursion, the pattern of negligence is often the same in each and every case.  Cruise lines will advertise their ships as the safest floating cities on the planet, but the truth is the excursions cruise lines select for their passengers are less than safe, if not downright dangerous.

Cruise lines will sell excursions to their passengers, either during the booking process on the internet, or directly on the ship.  Excursions represent a major selling point and entice most passengers to purchase excursions as a way of visiting far away countries and islands while the ship is docked.  Unfortunately, passengers are led to believe that cruise lines are in charge of running these excursions and maintaining the equipment pertaining to, or the transport to and from a cruise excursion.  However, that cannot be further from the truth.

In the last 24 hours, Royal Caribbean (owner of Celebrity Cruises) has confirmed that several cruise passengers (Celebrity Equinox & Serenade of the Seas) were fatally injured in a bus crash in Eastern Mexico.  The bus company selected by Royal to transport its passengers, Costa Maya Mahahual, confirmed that they had just picked up passengers who had boarded off two cruise ships that had just docked in the coastal town of Mahahual.  The excursion sold by Royal was a guided tour of the Mayan Ruins located in Chacchoben, which is approximately 100 miles west from the port.

Published on:

Leesfield Scolaro reviewed more than 100 maritime/cruise ship cases during 2017 against all major cruise lines operating out of Florida, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Celebrity Cruises). We are now actively litigating many of these matters. The diversity of results is significant, including a $3 million dollar medical negligence recovery on behalf of a 16-year-old girl from Tennessee, a $2.5 million on behalf of a young boy from New Jersey injured on a ship basketball court. Our crew member cases include a $375,000 settlement for a 23-year-old professional diver who sustained catastrophic permanent injuries while performing in an aquatic show on board Allure of the Seas. Another recreational on board case involving injuries on the basketball court resulted in a $365,000 award for a 36-year-old passenger from Virginia.

docked-cruise-ship-300x169Cruise ships are now floating recreational and theme parks. Their activities range from basketball, tennis, dodge ball, to water slides, rock climbing, sky rides to jogging supplemented by exotic shore excursions. “The industry’s competitive nature has resulted in each cruise line adding more dangerous activities for passengers who are already exposed to shipboard negligence in the maintenance and care of walking surfaces and other pedestrian hazards,” according to Ira Leesfield, Chair of the American Association for Justice Resort Torts Litigation Group.

Often overlooked are the substantial recoveries on behalf of passengers injured during excursions away from the vessels. See prior blog.

Published on:

Port_of_Miami_20071208-300x176In the last few months, Leesfield Scolaro has resolved a number of claims on behalf of minor children’s families who became injured during a cruise. Injuries to children are often catastrophic and life-altering. They require thorough investigation, swift legal actions and a complete knowledge of the cruise industry’s ways of doing business.

Last Summer, Leesfield Scolaro reported that the number of catastrophic injuries to cruise passengers, including minors, had significantly increased in the last few years due to cruise lines increasing the number of “activities” offered on board. See our post here: More cruise ship injuries, deaths and incidents as safety practices become more lax.

Ira Leesfield noted in the article that “the experience is no longer the cruise, but rather the activities aboard the cruise ship.” With the cruise industry in a continuous boom, the race among the major cruise lines to offer more and more grandiose activities to keep passengers fully occupied rages on – unfortunately to the detriment of passengers’ safety.

Badges