Over the past twenty years, the cruise industry has transformed from a niche market into a global powerhouse, as more people see the economic and logistical benefits of vacationing on the high seas. In 2012, more than 20 million people took a cruise and industry experts expect that number to rise by seven percent a year going forward.
Companies like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise lines have satisfied this newfound demand by constructing enormous new ships that transport, feed, and entertain thousands of passengers and operate like small cities. Unfortunately, while the vast majority of these cruise passengers will enjoy a wonderful vacation, many others will endure a life-changing injury due to the negligence of the company, crew, or staff.
From outright disasters like the recent sinking of the Costa Concordia to more common injuries arising from slip and falls or even staff misconduct, personal injuries have become a routine part of the modern cruise ship experience. However, if you are injured due to the negligence of a cruise ship operator, there is nothing routine about the way you must raise your claim.
Unlike most claims for personal injury, those arising from a cruise ship injury are subject to very specific procedures and very tight deadlines. These procedures are set forth in the boarding pass (which can run 12-20 pages long) and generally include:
- A requirement that you report the incident to a crew member and be checked out by the on-board medical personnel;
- A requirement that you formally notify the company that you intend to file a claim within six months; and
- A one-year deadline for filing a lawsuit against the cruise company.
Cruise contracts for the major cruise lines (located on your boarding pass) contain a clause that mandates that the Federal District Court located in Miami is the only available venue for resolving claims. This means that, regardless of where the customer actually lives (and where he or she will get medical treatment), any lawsuits alleging personal injuries aboard a cruise ship will be litigated in South Florida.
If you are injured aboard a cruise ship, it is extremely important that you retain counsel who is aware of these specific procedures and is able to litigate in the Southern District of Florida. Failure to do so, or delay in doing so, could waive substantial rights to recover compensation for your injuries.
By Joshua Ferraro, Special to THELAW.TV
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Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more