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).
When should I sue?
Typically there is a very short six months notice requirement and a one year statute of limitations. Both provisions are found in the ticket contract each passenger receives upon booking their cruise.
What type of incident can I sue and can’t I sue for?
Two conditions must be met to have a valid claim: (1) the passenger must have sustained an injury that warrants a lawsuit, and (2) the cruise line’s negligence caused or contributed to the incident. The nature itself of the incident is as varied as it is numerous. It includes claims stemming from medical malpractice, trips/slips, sexual assault, wrongful death, shore excursions, lack of supervision of minor passenger, on-board sanctioned activities, lack of safety, substandard design, etc.
Who should I call? Who can help with my claim?
If you believe you have a claim for injury against a cruise line, contact a general maritime law attorney who handles cruise passenger claims. Only half a dozen law firms in South Florida can adequately see such a claim from start to finish. Experience, track record, past results, reputation and longevity are paramount qualities a law firm must possess to represent you against a self-insured multi-billion dollar industry.
What if I am not sure whether I have a claim?
If you are unsure, you should do everything you can to be sure, and that means calling a cruise injury lawyer who will ask the relevant questions and review your claim. The biggest mistake you can make is wait and do nothing. Investigating incidents and reviewing potential claims can take time. Many law firms will not even review your case if your claim is within 2 or 3 months from the statute of limitations running. Therefore, pick up the phone can call now!
Time is of the essence for another reason: every square inch of a cruise ship is captured on surveillance video and retained by the cruise line for a short period of time. As such, an early notice to the cruise line all but guarantees that your incident’s surveillance video will be retrieved, hence greatly improving the success rate of your case. If a claim for injury is not initiated early, the surveillance video – a very important piece of evidence – might be lost forever.