What Should I Do If I Am Injured On A Cruise Ship?
No one goes on a cruise ship expecting to get injured. Unfortunately, like any other place, cruise ships have their share of accidents. One reason for this is simply the number of people who take cruises. More than 13 million people go on cruises each year, and of those, approximately 10 million of them leave from a United States port. The sheer number of passengers traveling on cruise ships makes it virtually certain that on any given cruise, a certain number of passengers are going to get injured. In addition, because a number of hazards exist at sea and in foreign ports that are normally not present at home, these injuries can often be severe.
If you or someone you are traveling with is injured on a cruise, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention on board the ship. Virtually every major cruise ship has a medical staff consisting of at least one doctor and nurse. However, it is important to keep in mind that although the ship’s medical staff work on the ship, the ship considers them independent contractors, and that if something goes wrong with your medical treatment, the ship may not be responsible for their negligence.
It is also important if you are injured on a ship to make sure that the circumstances surrounding your injury are as well-documented as possible, since the people who observed the accident and/or were responsible for avoiding it may be difficult to locate months later or forget what occurred. Normally when a passenger is injured the cruise ship will prepare an incident report describing what happened. It is important that whoever provides the information concerning the incident make sure it is complete and accurate as possible. It is also important that if there are witnesses to the accident or to the conditions that caused it that you obtain their names and addresses and make sure they are included in the incident report. The ship may or may not agree to provide you with a copy of the report before you disembark, you should request it anyway. If possible, you should also try to get statements from the witnesses as to how the accident occurred and what they observed. In addition, it is critical that you take photographs of the scene of the accident and the conditions of the area where it occurred, especially if the photograph shows the hazard that caused the injury. You should try and take several photographs from different angles, and if possible, take them in the presence of another witness to establish when you took them. All of this information will be extremely important in the event you decide to later file a claim or lawsuit. Finally, you should make sure to get the names and positions of all of the ship’s personnel involved in any way in the accident, including doctors, cruise staff, or shoreside personnel.
Since there are deadlines for notifying the cruise line of your intent to file a claim and for bringing a lawsuit, it is critical once you get home that you or someone on your behalf consult with an attorney knowledgeable in cruise line law about your legal rights. The Pollack Law Firm has about 20 years experience litigating against the major cruise lines. Our firm is dedicated to helping you obtain the best result possible for your case. Call us to schedule a free consultation.