Cruise Ship Accidents and the Law

By May 15, 2010 January 20th, 2018 Personal Injury

A passenger who suffers an injury on a cruise ship may have a claim for compensation against the owner of the vessel for negligence. A crew member who suffers an injury that occurs on a cruise ship may have a claim for compensation under the Jones act. The court determines if a ship is considered a vessel. The status of the vessel affects which damages may be recoverable and which law applies. After the determination of the vessel has been made, the next step is to determine jurisdiction. If your injury occurred while the vessel was in navigable waters the law protects passengers of cruise ships against those injuries which are the result of negligence, federal laws may be applicable. If you have suffered an injury while aboard a cruise ship, you need to call a maritime lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the possible remedies under federal law.

Liability for the injury rests solely with the ship’s owner. The owner of the cruise ship has the responsibility to warn the visitors and passengers if there are any circumstances that are dangerous aboard the vessel and of reasonable care to protect them from injury. The dangerous circumstances either should have been known or have been known to the ship owner. If the passenger was injured by a crewmember the liability may be different based on the court and the circumstances. Some courts have held that the owner of the ship is strictly liable for the actions of its employees. This theory may be based on agency theory or the fact that the vessel was being used as a common carrier. Other courts have held that there must be negligence by the owner of the ship prior to there being any liability for any action that has been committed by a crewmember.

Claims of medical negligence differ by jurisdiction. In some courts, the owners of cruise ship have a responsibility to hire proficient doctors of medicine; However, they are neither responsible nor liable for the treatment that is provided by the medical staff. In other courts, the owners of the cruise ships may be responsible and liable for the treatments provided by the members of their medical staff; However, it must be shown that the negligence occurred while the medical treatment was being administered. You should contact a knowledgeable maritime law attorney, such as Emery Ledger at to determine the medical negligence law that is applicable in your jurisdiction.

In accordance with federal law, cruise ships usually have a one year statute of limitations for claims of personal injury. These limitations must be listed on the passenger’s ticket and the passenger must be reasonably informed of the effects on their rights and the time limit. It is important to have the notification of this rule or a copy of your ticket and the court must find that the notice was legible and clear. Cruise ships may also have contract provisions such as choice of venue, law, and other forum selection clauses. It is important to speak to a maritime attorney about provisions in your contract in order to determine if you have a claim.

In accordance with the United States Code, cruise ships may also include a provision in passenger’s tickets that limits their liability for physical injury or emotional distress. This disclaimer is not effective if the injury is caused by negligence of the owner of the ship or by their employees, and that negligence resulted in physical injury to the passenger. The disclaimer is also not applicable in cases of rape or sexual assault. If you or a member of your family has been aboard a cruise ship and been injured, it is important that you contact a knowledgeable maritime attorney, such as Emery Ledger at, as soon as possible to determine your possible personal injury claim.

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