Articles Posted in Cruise Injury and Maritime Law

A Boynton Beach, Florida man has filed a wrongful death suit against a cruise line after his wife died in a hospital in France.

The man filed a complaint on May 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Princess Cruise Lines LTD alleging wrongful death and negligence.

According to the complaint, the man claims that on April 2016, his wife fell in her cabin on the ship and was seen by the ship’s doctor. The suit states the woman also had a fever and the ship’s doctor ordered the pair off of the ship for treatment at a hospital in France. The suit states the woman died five weeks later while still in France.

The man holds Princess Cruise Lines LTD responsible because the they allegedly negligently forced them to disembark the vessel and failed to hire qualified ship’s doctors and nurses.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks compensatory damages of more than $75,000, all damages, interest, all legal fees and any other relief as the court deems just.

Sadly, people can fall ill or die while on vacation. Passengers can suffer terrible tragedies while onboard an ocean cruise. Typically, cruise lines specify a limited time and a particular place for you to file a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. Regardless of where you took your cruise, certain cruise lines require you to file suit in a specific location. Our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how to further research your cruise contract in order to determine when and where you can file a claim for damages.

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A cruise ship passenger alleges he was injured after he slipped and fell near the food court on the ship.

The man filed a suit on Feb. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Celebrity Cruises Inc. alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that on Nov. 9, 2015, while aboard the cruise ship, he slipped and fell while walking on a slippery area near the food court. As a result, he alleges he suffered pain, loss of earnings and incurred medical expenses.

The man holds Celebrity Cruises Inc. responsible because they failed to conduct routine inspections of the area, failed to warn passengers of wet or contaminated floor surface and failed to establish, implement and enforce policies and procedures regarding the proper maintenance of the area.

Cruise lines are responsible for warning passengers of known dangers, however they are not required to warn of open and obvious dangers. Open and obvious dangers are those that should be obvious to a passenger using common sense. When slapped with a slip and fall claim, cruise lines will often use this defense to claim the cruise ship had no duty to warn its passengers of the obvious danger.  The success of this defense depends on the unique circumstances of the case and the injuries involved.

Our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know that slip, trip and falls suffered aboard a cruise ship can leave you in great pain and unable to go back to work to earn a living. These cases can be complex, which is why you need knowledgeable representation to go up against the cruise ship industry.

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A Kentucky woman claims a slippery deck near a hot tub on a Miami-based cruise ship caused her to fall.

The woman filed a complaint on Feb. 13 against Carnival Corp., doing business as Carnival Cruise Lines Inc., alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the woman claims that on Feb. 26, 2016, she suffered serious physical injuries when she slipped and fell while exiting the Jacuzzi onboard the Carnival Fascination. She holds Carnival Cruise Lines Inc. responsible because they failed to warn the her regarding the slippery surface while exiting the Jacuzzi.

If you were injured in a cruise ship accident, you are not alone. Countless cruise ship passengers are injured every year, usually do to the negligence of a cruise line or its employees. Sadly, most of these injuries are 100 percent preventable. Slip, trip and fall accidents make up the majority of these incidents, resulting in a plethora of injuries including head injuries, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries. In most cruise ship slip, trip and fall cases, financial compensation can be sought by filing a personal injury claim.

While there are numerous ways a slip, trip and fall accident can occur, negligence is usually a contributing factor. The key to gaining a successful outcome for your claim, is proving negligence and showing that the negligence caused injuries to the victim.

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A Carnival passenger alleges he was injured because he slipped on a deck that was wet with rain.

The man filed a complaint on Jan. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Carnival Corp. alleging negligence.

According to the lawsuit, the man alleges that he sustained physical injuries when he accidentally slipped and fell due to a deck wet because of rain. The man holds Carnival Corp. responsible because they failed to warn the man of the hazardous condition of the lido deck.

All areas on a cruise ship that see a high volume of foot traffic must be must be free of dangers, and that includes any wet or slick surfaces that could result in slip, trip or fall injuries. Cruise line companies could be responsible for slip, trip and fall accidents that occur because of hazards employees create. Dangerous or hazardous conditions include slick or slippery surfaces and a failure to warn passengers of the wet area or failing to undertake reasonable safety precautions.

If a cruise line creates a dangerous condition or does not work to remedy the situation in a reasonable amount of time, they could be liable for all injuries they have caused. This negligence on the cruise ship’s part could mean you are entitled to recover financial compensation for your injuries.

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More than 500 passengers and crew were evacuated on Wednesday from a burning ship about a mile off Puerto Rico’s north coast.

The fire occurred aboard the Caribbean Fantasy, a combination cruise and ferry vessel, as the U.S. Coast Guard began bringing passengers into the San Juan harbor.

The Coast Guard said all passengers had been evacuated, though it was still rescuing 26 crew members.

The ship was arriving in San Juan when the fire broke out, according to a Coast Guard spokesman.

Reports indicate that a hose carrying fuel burst open and caught on fire in the control room.

The crew attempted to extinguish the fire for 2 hours.

The extent of injuries are not clear at this time.

Several dozen people were treated for dehydration, high blood pressure and respiratory problems from the smoke, said a fire department spokesman. One stretcher held a man hooked up to an IV who was cradling a bawling newborn baby clad only in a diaper.

The mostly Dominican passengers included dozens of school-age athletes headed to competitions in Puerto Rico, including a 22-member cycling team, a girls’ volleyball team and a boys’ baseball team.

Passengers found to be in good health were loaded onto city buses to be taken out of the area.

The ships run several times weekly between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

While it may seem like a fire would be easy to put out when you are surrounded by water, a fire is a one of the most serious risks onboard a cruise ship. Since cruise ships are enclosed with long hallways and similar small rooms, combine that with a high volume of people and that makes cruise ships one of the worst places for a fire emergency. Cruise ship fires can be particularly devastating, due to the fact that there are not many escape routes.

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A cruise should be a fun and safe time. And while most cruises remain fun and injury free, there are ways to be hurt while on a cruise.

The following are the most common cruise ship accidents:

  • Slip and falls or trip and falls: Cruise ship staff are required to maintain a safe ship. This means if there are any wet or slick surfaces, adequate warning signs should be displayed. Stairs and landings should be properly maintained so that there is nothing broken, sharp or uneven so falls do not occur.
  • Drowning: Most cruise ships have several pools on board, as well as water slides and other cool additions. These must be monitored at all times by the cruise line’s staff so that drowning accidents are prevented. With that said, staff must properly secure the pool areas at night when no lifeguards are available.
  • Fires: Fires on cruise ships can lead to various issues for passengers, including the very serious threat of burn injuries, having to evacuate the ship, and a loss of power which can lead to a loss of sewer and food storage capabilities.
  • Collisions With Other Ships/Objects: When a cruise ship crashes into another ship, object, or even a piece of land, everyone onboard could be harmed.
  • Food Poisoning And Other Illnesses: Cruise ships house thousands of people, and because people are within a confined space, stomach viruses can be spread quite easily among guests. On a similar note, if food is not prepared or stored properly, everyone onboard can become seriously ill in a short amount of time.
  • Defective Equipment: If the cruise ship has any faulty equipment, your risk for suffering an injury is dramatically increased. This includes dangerous defects in the on-ship bowling alley, rock climbing walls, water rides, golf courses, and other fun additions.
  • Excursion Injuries: Just be aware that just because cruise ships contract other companies to provide activities off the boat, like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, zip-lining, and spelunking, this does not mean that these companies follow the necessary safety protocols you expect.

Filing an injury claim against the cruise line can be complex. It is important to understand that attorneys and insurance companies that represent cruise ship lines will do whatever they can to limit paying a claim and having their brand tarnished. There are specific time frames and other laws that govern cruise ship injuries that must be followed when filing an injury claim.

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A passenger on the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ill-fated Anthem of the Seas voyage earlier this month is suing the Miami-based cruise line for negligence.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami last week, the passenger alleges that Royal Caribbean was aware of the forecasted storm off the Atlantic coast that caused the line’s ship, Anthem of the Seas, to face hurricane-force winds and 30-foot waves as passengers waited in their cabins for hours for the storm to pass.

The lawsuit alleges that the cruise line chose to “send the Anthem of the Seas directly into the storm,” placing the man and the other passengers of the ship in “grave danger.” He is asking Royal Caribbean for compensatory and punitive damages.

The man said that he and his husband were told to stay in their cabins as the storm worsened in the afternoon of Feb. 7, the first full day of cruising after the 4,500-passenger, 1,500-crew ship left its port in Cape Liberty, New Jersey.

According to the suit, the pair stayed in the cabin for hours clinging onto furniture, while the ship rocked fiercely at times tipping to a 45-degree angle.

The man said he got up to use the restroom just as the ship lurched violently, causing him to be thrown 18 feet in his cabin and smash head-first into the door of the room, knocking him unconscious. The man said he sustained injuries to his head, neck, wrist and torso.

When they called the ship’s 911 number, the medical team said they were attending other injured passengers and because the man was breathing and not bleeding, instructed him to wait until the storm calmed down to seek help.

To avoid a second storm off the coast of Jacksonville, the ship reversed course and returned to port in New Jersey on Feb. 10.

The cruise line said in a statement earlier this month that the severity of the storm “far exceeded forecasts,” causing “superficial damage” to the ship.

The cruise company said it is working to improve its storm avoidance policy and adding resources to its Miami headquarters by PortMiami to better provide guidance to ship captains.

Maritime law applies to the “high seas,” which begin 24 miles from land. Maritime law is complex and can be hard to understand, especially for injury victims that are unfamiliar with cruise ship legal issues. However, in most cases, an accident, assault or other incident that leads to a cruise ship passenger being injured is governed by maritime law.

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The National Transportation Safety Board believes El Faro, the cargo ship that went missing during Hurricane Joaquin, has been found in the Atlantic Ocean about 15,000 feet below the surface.

The NTSB said the USNS Apache used sonar equipment. The technology first detected the vessel Saturday afternoon.

Specialists on the Apache will use a deep ocean remotely operated vehicle to survey and confirm the identity of the wreckage. The survey could start as early as Sunday.

NTSB said the sonar detection is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship. The vessel appears to be upright and in one piece.

If the vessel is confirmed to be El Faro, the remote will use a video camera to document the vessel and debris field in order to locate and recover the voyage data recorder.

El Faro went missing on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin. The Coast Guard searched for the boat for many days before the NTSB contracted the U.S. Navy to take over the search.

El Faro had 28 crew members from the United States and five from Poland. The ship was heading to Puerto Rico on Sept. 29 from Jacksonville on a regularly scheduled cargo supply run.

Reports indicate that the ship had lost power, had taken on water and was listing 15 degrees but that the situation was “manageable,” in their last communication, according to ship owner TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico.

Joaquin was a Category 4 hurricane when El Faro got caught in the storm. According to reports, the ship had 391 shipping
containers on board, making it quite top-heavy as it tried to navigate through Joaquin’s 50-foot waves.

Anyone who has spent time earning a living on the ocean knows that this is a risky trade. The unpredictability of the ocean places even the most experienced of sailors and the strongest of ships in constant danger. These conditions demand professionalism from all of the crew members of any sea vessel, whether it is a cruise ship, cargo ship, fishing boat, tugboat, or anything else. Any lack of competence places all the lives on board at risk.

Despite the fact that working on the ocean is inherently dangerous, this fact alone does not absolve the shipowner, captain or crew members from being at fault if one of their employees or fellow workers suffers an injury or death due to negligence.

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The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report Thursday on the investigation into the El Faro tragedy.

According to their findings, the U.S. Coast Guard received distress alerts from the 737 foot cargo ship on October 1 around 7:15 a.m.

The ship was 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, and close to the eye of Hurricane Joaquin.

The ship was en route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico with a cargo of containers and vehicles.

According to the NTSB report, just a few minutes before the distress alerts, the El Faro master called TOTE Maritime’s designated person ashore and reported the ship was experiencing some flooding. He said the crew had controlled the flooding but the ship was listing at 15 degrees and lost propulsion.

The Coast Guard and TOTE were unable to reestablish communication with the ship. Of the 33 crew members on the Jacksonville-based ship, 28 were U.S. citizens and five were from Poland.

The Coast Guard deployed helicopters and search vessels to the ship’s last known position, but the search was halted due to hurricane force conditions.

The report stated that on Sunday, October 4, a damaged lifeboat, two damaged liferafts, and a deceased crewmember wearing an immersion suit were found. The next day, a debris field and oil slick were found, and the Coast Guard determined the El Faro was lost and declared the event a major marine casualty.

The Coast Guard suspended the unsuccessful search for survivors at sundown on Wednesday, October 7.

On Tuesday, October 6, the National Transportation Safety Board launched a full team to Jacksonville to lead the federal investigation in cooperation with the Coast Guard, the American Bureau of Shipping, and TOTE as parties.

The U.S. Navy Salvage and Diving division of the Naval Seas Systems Command was contracted to locate the sunken ship, assist in the sea floor documentation of the wreckage, and recover the voyage data recorder, according to reports.

Working on board cargo ships like the El Faro can be extremely dangerous. While out to sea, crew members put their lives on the line to ensure that the goods necessary for our daily lives arrive to where they need to be on time. They face dangerous weather conditions and the constant risk of being thrown overboard.

At Whittel & Melton, our Maritime Accident Lawyers are experienced and trained to represent injured seamen and their families, as well as the families of those who have lost loved ones on cargo vessels, like the El Faro. We will represent victims nationwide in maritime personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

In many cases, the surviving family members of those who are killed at sea are able to obtain wrongful death compensation under the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act, or Admiralty Law.

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The family of a sailor aboard the El Faro, the cargo ship that sunk while out to sea during Hurricane Joaquin, is filing a $100 million lawsuit against the vessel’s owner and captain.

The lawsuit was filed in Duval County Court on Wednesday.

The man was among the 33 men and women aboard the freighter that sunk Oct. 1 in 15,000 feet of water east of the Bahamas.

The suit alleges that Tote Maritime and its captain were negligent in choosing to sail a 41-year-old cargo ship into dangerous weather. The lawsuit claims that Tote needs to place more emphasis on employee safety and less on profits.

Tote has not yet issued a response to the lawsuit.

Wrongful death suits are are usually quite complex and some of the hardest lawsuits to file, mostly due to the high level of emotion behind these cases and the grieving process that surviving family members are still going through. Despite the hardships of these cases, they are necessary, as consulting with a wrongful death lawyer can help the family recover compensation from the at-fault party to pay for costly expenses like a funeral, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering.

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