Miami Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer

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Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorney

Cruise ship accidents and injuries occur far more frequently than many people realize. Unfortunately, these accidents and injuries are often serious and quite complex, both in terms of their impact on victims’ lives as well as the legal implications of seeking restitution for injuries suffered. You may need the help of an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer.

Given the nature of these large ships, there are many opportunities for an accident to occur while a passenger onboard a cruise ship. And while accidents happen, many of the injuries and deaths could be avoided with better training of personnel and maintenance on the ships and its facilities.

LMK Legal has extensive experience representing victims of cruise ship accidents in Miami. Allow us to help you unravel the complexities of this niche area of maritime law so that you can seek the compensation you deserve for the injuries you or a loved one suffered aboard a cruise ship.

Common Types of Cruise Ship Accidents

There are more than 20 million cruise ship passengers every year, with 2017 seeing the most cruise ship passengers ever with 25.8 million. With so many people sailing the seas worldwide, and questionable training and safety standards on some vessels, it should come as no surprise that accidents and injuries happen often.

Given the nature of these cruise ships, the injuries suffered are often catastrophic. A cruise ship accident can occur anytime and anywhere, but some of the most common accidents on these vessels include:

  • Slips and falls – Slip and fall injuries are among the most frequent accidents on cruise ships or in the cruise terminal when going to/from the cruise ship. Wet decks, unpredictable motion, and inadequate safety measures can lead to passengers or crew losing their footing and suffering an injury.
  • Trips and falls – Similar to slip and fall injuries, these occur when individuals stumble on obstacles or uneven surfaces.
  • Fires – A fire at sea can be a terrifying experience and can easily start in malfunctioning electrical systems, oily engine areas, and cooking mishaps. Cruise ships must adhere to strict fire prevention standards and maintain working emergency equipment to minimize this risk.
  • Drownings and pool accidents – Dazzling onboard swimming pools and other water features aboard and around the ship add to the enjoyment and aesthetics of a cruise. Unfortunately, they are also a potential setting for serious injuries and accidental deaths.
  • Shore accidents – Injuries can also happen when passengers disembark at ports of call. Depending on the particular circumstances of your injury, your cruise operator or an insurance carrier may still have liability for your injury.
  • Collision accidents with other boats – Due to their enormous mass and slow response times, cruise ships sharing waterways with other vessels may be at risk of experiencing collisions. These accidents can potentially lead to injuries for the staff and guests on board.
  • Automatic door accidents – Automatic doors are installed in numerous areas of cruise ships for convenience, hygiene, and accessibility. When they malfunction, they can cause serious injuries.
  • Legionnaire’s Disease – Outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease, which can be likened to a severe form of pneumonia, have been linked to cruise ships in the past.
  • Viruses and bacterial infections – The close quarters and shared facilities on cruise ships can facilitate the rapid spread of germs and harmful bacteria. Meticulous cleanliness and safety standards must be upheld before, during, and after a voyage.
  • Elevator and escalator accidents – With huge, modern cruise ships having multiple decks to explore, elevators and escalators have become a necessity for making a ship’s amenities accessible to all passengers. When this equipment malfunctions, however, it can pose a serious safety risk.
  • Assault and sexual assault –Unfortunately, the crowded conditions and free-flowing alcohol involved in most cruise ship scenarios can also create opportunities for those who wish to harass, abuse, or assault others.

    You should be able to enjoy your cruise with a reasonable expectation that the cruise operator will keep you safe from such behaviors, whether they’re coming from other customers or cruise staff.

These types of accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, serious emotional trauma, or even wrongful death. Unsecured storage of any supplies by negligent crewmembers can lead to serious accidents as the ship travels across the sea. Ships do have the ability to lose power, leaving passengers immobile and only able to float around until help finally arrives.

Cruise ship accident victims are more prone to receive critical injuries, such as:

  • Broken bones – Bad falls, blunt force trauma, and other types of accidents can lead to fractured or broken bones.
  • Trauma to the head – Head injuries, like broken bones, may occur due to collisions or falls but carry with them a unique list of serious implications for physical and mental health.
  • Brain injury – The worst, most traumatic head injuries can result in damage to the brain, which is often irreversible. These injuries can also result in a long and varied list of conditions affecting both physical and mental health.
  • Spinal cord injuries – Similar to brain injuries, damage to the spinal cord comes with a wide range of potential health implications, including irreparable conditions such as paralysis.
  • Lung damage – Near-drowning incidents, mold, and chemical inhalation are some potential shipboard causes of lung damage.
  • Fractures and dislocated bones – Skeletal damage suffered in injuries does not always occur at the level of a total break; sometimes, a bone is only dislocated. A dislocation or minor hairline fracture may sometimes require a lesser degree of medical care than a break, but any bone issue can be painful and debilitating in the short term.
  • Cuts and severe lacerations – Sharp objects that are not properly stowed are one potential cause of serious cuts on board a cruise ship.
  • Amputations – Catastrophic lacerations have the potential to remove limbs entirely, while other types of injury and disease may necessitate amputation as a medical response.
  • Serious burns – Fires, friction, and even extreme sun exposure can cause severe burns to human flesh.
  • Disfigurement – Disfigurement refers to injuries that carry lifelong visual reminders, such as permanent facial scarring.
  • Emotional trauma – Not every injury is physical. Victims of cruise ship accidents can all too often suffer serious emotional trauma as well.

Can You Sue if You Fall on a Cruise Ship?

You can sue if you fall on a cruise ship, including if the accident happens while getting aboard or disembarking. To successfully receive compensation for damages, however, you must be able to prove that the cruise ship operator was responsible for a legally compensable injury. Achieving this as effectively and efficiently as possible will typically require collaborating with a talented cruise ship injury attorney to gather evidence and develop a robust legal strategy.

Broadly speaking, cruise ship operators are legally obligated to provide safe conditions for their passengers. If the conditions that caused your fall were the result of negligence on the part of the cruise line or its staff, you may have a legally actionable claim. After seeking any necessary medical care for yourself, we recommend consulting with the seasoned cruise ship accident lawyer at LMK Legal so that we can begin evaluating the merits of your claim.

How Do I File a Claim Against a Cruise Line?

Filing a claim against a cruise line will look different from case to case since every accident is unique. Sometimes, this process can look identical to filing any other civil lawsuit, and, in other cases, it can be complicated by maritime laws and federal regulations. It all depends on the nature of your accident and where exactly it took place.

Regardless of the particulars of your case, the basic steps for injured passengers to file a claim for a cruise ship injury will typically proceed as follows:

  1. Consult a Qualified Attorney: Seek legal advice from a cruise ship accident lawyer who has experience with cases like yours. They can evaluate your claim, explain your legal options, and offer you guidance for formally beginning the process of filing your claim.
  2. Gather Evidence and Documentation: Collect all available evidence related to your accident, such as photographs, medical records, copies of communications, and witness statements. Turn all of this over to your attorney in a well-organized fashion as quickly as possible so they can begin using it to craft a winning legal strategy.
  3. Notification Requirements: Similar to many other civil lawsuits, the other party will typically be notified of your intent to pursue legal action. They are given a reasonable opportunity to respond before a formal lawsuit is filed. In these cases, the other party is typically the cruise line.
  4. Negotiation/Mediation: In some cases, mediation will be attempted so that a settlement can be reached without a full court trial. Trials are often expensive, time-consuming, and exposed to public scrutiny. It can often be in everyone’s interests to settle out of court for cost-effective proceedings that lead to a swift and confidential payout.
  5. Formal Lawsuit: If attempts to collaboratively reach a settlement through out-of-court negotiation do not lead to the desired outcome, you and your attorney will move ahead with the lawsuit filing process. A formal lawsuit against the cruise line will be filed in the appropriate court. This does not necessarily mean your case will go to trial, however, as there are still legal avenues open for reaching a settlement even after the lawsuit has been filed.

What Happens if You Get Hurt on a Cruise Ship?

Being injured or falling sick when far away from home can be an extremely stressful, isolating, and scary experience. When it happens in the middle of the open ocean, those feelings are only exacerbated.

If you are hurt while you are the lawful passenger of a cruise ship, the cruise line has a duty to provide you with basic medical care and such other assistance as you require. Any major cruise line will have medical facilities and some medical personnel available on board, and this should serve as your frontline first aid resource. Be sure to fully document your injuries and your interactions with the cruise line’s medical staff.

You should also seek the independent opinion of a medical professional who is not employed by the cruise line at your earliest possible opportunity. Seeing to your own immediate medical needs is of paramount importance as the first step after any accident. Make sure you’re also keeping detailed records of events as they happened and any medication or treatment you received. Your lawyer can use this information as part of building a solid claim.

Maritime Law: Cruise Ship Accidents in Legal Context

The majority of personal injuries that occur on cruise ships will fall under the jurisdiction of maritime law, a special set of laws applying to incidents that occur at sea. This can be a confusing and intimidating prospect due to the inclusion of unique concepts that are irrelevant or nonexistent in other court systems, such as the idea of international waters.

Some Key Concepts to Keep in Mind Include:

  • Venue and Jurisdiction – Maritime law typically governs personal injury cases on cruise ships due to cruise ships operating on international waterways. Because of this, cruise ship passengers seeking redress will usually need to file their lawsuits in federal courts, such as the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami, where many major cruise lines have their headquarters.
  • Contractual Issues –Some people fail to consider the fact that a ticket to a cruise actually represents a contract between the passenger and the cruise line. The fine print you need to click through when booking a cruise is indeed legally binding, and while it usually involves waiving some of your rights while aboard the operator’s vessel, it also typically offers you some protection as a consumer.

    These contracts will sometimes include a “forum selection clause.” This is a special contractual instrument that specifies where lawsuits must be filed, which is usually in Florida in the case of US cruise operators. Note that these contracts will also sometimes place limitations on your options for legal redress, such as specifying a timeframe in which to notify the cruise operator and to file a lawsuit. It can be critical to act quickly if you’re injured while on a cruise.

  • Duty of Care – Cruise lines owe their passengers a reasonable standard of care. This means that it’s the cruise operator’s duty to maintain a safe environment on board and ensure passengers are not at risk of harm. A well-maintained ship, properly trained staff, and adequate safety policies are a few of the cruise operator’s responsibilities.
  • Maritime Law – Personal injury cases at sea may be subject to the unique principles and procedures of maritime law, which can differ in some substantial ways from a typical civil case on dry land.
  • Limitation of Liability Act – Cruise line operators may attempt to limit their liability by invoking the Limitation of Liability Act, which has stood as a core component of US admiralty law since 1851. Your cruise ship accident attorney can ensure this tactic is fully scrutinized in court and develop a legal strategy for challenging it if appropriate.
  • Cruise Ship Excursion Injuries – Further complicating matters, injuries that occur during shore excursions or at different points in the boarding and disembarking process can be subject to entirely different laws, jurisdictions, and liability standards. This can vary tremendously even from place to place on the same cruise, based on locale and the specific activity being performed when the injury or damaging event occurred.
  • Florida State Laws – Laws and regulations on the state level can also apply to some cruise ship injury cases, depending on the nature of the injury and where it occurred. Lawsuits related to incidents that occur on shore before the cruise departs, such as a breach of ticket contract issue, would likely be filed in the Florida civil court system rather than under the separate maritime law system.
  • Statute of Limitations – Like other types of cases, a maritime personal injury case will be subject to a statute of limitations, so be sure to act decisively and file your claim within the given time frame.

If you are a passenger or crew member who has been the victim of a cruise ship injury and wish to seek compensation, it’s likely that you will find yourself in need of powerful legal help. For help navigating the intricacies of maritime law and guiding your injury claim to a successful settlement, contact the experienced personal injury and cruise ship accident team at LMK Legal.

Working out of our main office in Palmetto Bay, LMK Legal is ready to represent anyone who has been injured while at sea with a cruise operator and is in need of powerful legal solutions.

LMK Legal – Your Trusted Florida Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers

Unfortunately, cruise ship accidents are more common than many people realize when they’re shopping for a fun and unique vacation option and start taking cruises into consideration. Due to the unstoppable mass of cruise ships, the tight quarters on board, and the many inherent dangers of sea travel, the injuries resulting from such accidents can be catastrophic or even fatal.

With tens of millions of passengers embarking on cruise ships annually, a need for highly effective legal representation in this domain has emerged.

At LMK Legal, we bring over a decade of experience in personal injury, business litigation, and maritime law to your side to develop powerful and fully personalized legal strategies that can meet the unique demands of these cases. Managing partner Laurence (“Larry”) M. Krutchik is an AV Preeminent® rated attorney, reflecting the firm’s industry-leading ethical standards and legal abilities.

We understand the complexity of cruise ship accident cases and that legally actionable injuries aboard cruise ships can take a variety of forms, from common slip-and-fall accidents to assaults or mishandled outbreaks of deadly diseases. These incidents can result in a wide range of serious physical and mental consequences for victims, including brain trauma, bone fractures, and burns, as well as emotional damage.

When facing these difficult and sensitive issues, you need a dedicated legal team with a track record of success in similar cases. Larry and his team not only strive to resolve disputes as efficiently and effectively as possible, but they are also prepared to litigate aggressively if need be.

LMK Legal is committed to pursuing claims on behalf of injured plaintiffs and the loved ones left behind from wrongful deaths. They can offer highly effective representation in such cases involving cruise ships. We strive to secure the greatest possible results for our clients, no matter what the unique circumstances of their cruise ship injury may be.

If you’re in need of a personal injury, maritime law, and business litigation attorney who will put your needs first and provide powerful, practical advice, contact LMK Legal today for a confidential, no-pressure consultation. Let us assist you in seeking the justice and compensation you’re entitled to by law.