Cruise Ship Injuries and Accidents
As cruises become have become more affordable, the numbers of passengers has soared- these “floating cities” are now attracting an estimated 12 million passengers every year. But don’t let the illusion of security blind you. “Being on a cruise may create a false sense of community. In reality, the typical ship is akin to a small floating city filled with strangers,” warns the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Onboard your dream vacation, a variety of things could go wrong- from shipwrecks and maritime emergencies, to sexual assault and fatal accidents. These can lead to costly and even life-threatening injuries.
Common Cruise Ship Accidents/Injuries
Shore Excursion/Recreational Activities
- Shore Excursions are activities/tours offered to passengers that allow them to explore the region (examples include snorkeling and horseback riding.)
- A variety of accidents can occur on shore excursions including slip and falls, automobile accidents, drownings and more.
- Medical Malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a negligent doctor. This can happen anywhere, even in the middle of the ocean.
- Every cruise ship is equipped with an infirmary, where passengers can be treated for minor injuries. Ship doctors and nurses working in these mini-hospitals are often contractors, meaning they are not employees of the cruise line.
- Substandard medical care led to an $800,000 award for an employee working on a Carnival Cruise ship. The man suffered a herniated disc while working; he was given several injections by the ship’s doctor, but was denied access to emergency surgery. Due to the delay in treatment he suffered permanent nerve damage in his right leg.
- Physical Assault- There were 39 cases of crimes on the high seas last year involving U.S. citizens, many of them involving physical assault. Without licensed police onboard, crimes often go unreported or uninvestigated.
- Sexual Assault- According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sexual assaults are the dominant threat to women and minors on the high seas. Sexual assault is the leading crime reported to and investigated by the FBI on the high seas (comprising 55% of the crimes at sea that are reported to the FBI).
- Many maritime accidents stem from the negligent operation of the vessel (examples include crashes and grounding.)
- One such incident occurred in 2007 when a Greek cruise hit large rocks in the Aegean Sea due to the captain’s negligence. The ship sank, taking with it two passengers.
Slip and Fall Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents- This can occur in a variety of situations, one being when an area of the deck is wet. A New Jersey woman was awarded $2.9 million in damages after she slipped and fell on a pool deck aboard the Carnival Pride in 2009.
- Fall Overboard- Officials do not know why so many ship passengers fall overboard, but it is estimated that 165 people went overboard on a cruise from 2000-2010 (CruiseJunkie).
On Board Emergencies
- Fire- A fire on board a ship can be particularly dangerous because it can cause major damage and provide little chance for escape. In March 2006, the Star Princess of Princess Cruises caught fire while bound for Jamaica. The blaze caused major property damage and several injuries. One passenger died of a heart attack while several others were treated for bruises, abrasions, and smoke inhalation injuries.
- Lists- A list occurs when the ship is leaning one way or another. An example of this occurred onboard a Carnival cruise ship in April 2010. 60 passengers were treated for injuries after the ship listed suddenly to avoid a submerged buoy.
- Ship Sinking- Sinking cruise ships are rare, but can still happen. In April 2007, a cruise ship hits the rocks of Santorini Island in Greece and sank. All passengers had to evacuate as the ship went down with all their luggage and personal belongings inside.
- Ship Collisions- Although rare, ship collisions do occur and can cause injuries to passengers and crewmembers alike.
- Food Poisoning- The Norovirus, a gastrointestinal virus, is the most common cause of illness on cruise ships. In February of 2010, more than 400 passengers were sickened by the norovirus on a Celebrity Cruise line ship.
Steps to Take After a Cruise Ship Injury
- Get your injuries treated
- Report the incident to crew personnel
- Request a copy of any incident report
- Take down witness name and contact information
- Take photographs of your injuries
- Decide if you want to file a claim against the cruise line.
- Your cruise ticket may contain fine print specifying time limitations on filing a claim.
- The ticket may also reference a particular jurisdiction for any lawsuits against the cruise line.
- If you decide to pursue legal action against the cruise line, consider hiring a maritime attorney.
Contact an Experienced Maritime Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a Maritime accident, contact Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys immediately. We will thoroughly evaluate your case and help you recover the compensation you need and deserve. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends.