New York’s Manhattan and Brooklyn cruise ship terminals are among the busiest in the U.S. Ships at these terminals are bound for or returning from Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada, New England, Europe and the world.
Some 600,000 passengers board cruise ships in New York each year, but only about 15 percent of them live here. The rest are either visiting or simply passing through the city, the NYC Economic Development Corporation says. New Yorkers also leave on cruises from ports in Bayonne, Boston, Baltimore, Norfolk, Miami and elsewhere.
But when a crime or an accident occurs on a cruise ship and a passenger is injured, the ship’s departure from New York City or the passenger’s New York residence may have little bearing on how their losses are treated. Cruise ships in international or foreign waters fall under a mix of international maritime law, U.S. law and the laws of the location of the accident or the country where the ship is registered.
If you have a personal injury claim from an accident or assault on a cruise ship, an attorney from the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP can help you. Our Long Island location and our dedication to protecting injured cruises passengers’ rights and best interests puts us in a position to help you.
Trial lawyers Richard Jaffe and Stephen Cohen and their team of attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience in personal injury litigation. Let us put our experience to work for you.
Personal injury, handled personally. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Cruise Ships often Unaccountable for Accidents or Crime
The commercial cruise business is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is growing, even in lean economic times. It operates in many cases under laws that are confusing and that can easily be skirted.
Cruise ships are often registered in foreign countries – under “flags of convenience” – to rely on foreign law that is far more lax than U.S. regulations. International maritime law, which applies on the high seas, is murky at best, sometimes described as its own shifting sea of regulations.
The U.S. adopted the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 to force cruise lines to report major crimes and accidents occurring onboard their ships. These include:
- Suspicious death.
- Missing U.S. national.
- Assault with serious bodily injury.
- Setting fire to (arson) or tampering with the vessel.
- Theft of money or property in excess of $10,000.
- Rape and certain other sexual offenses.
But after nearly four years in effect, the General Accounting Office said that only 81 of the 287 crime reports required since adoption of the law had been made public.
If an accident, assault or another crime occurs on a cruise ship, the ship crew may initially investigate but has no law enforcement authority. Medical personnel in the ship’s infirmary will have limited capacity to care for a badly injured or ill passenger. If the ship pulls into a foreign port, local authorities may investigate, but it may be days until U.S. officials even hear about the case. Even then, they may claim they have no authority to act.
We Hold Cruise Lines Liable for their Negligence
A civil lawsuit is the primary remedy for an injury or other significant loss due to the negligence of a cruise ship crew or company. Ship owners owe their passengers the duty of exercising reasonable care for their safety. When they fail this duty through negligence or on purpose, they may be held liable.
Under the Athens Convention, cruise line companies and others (owners, operators, charterers, ticket agents) may be held liable for damages or losses suffered by a passenger if the incident occurred in the course of the carriage (cruise) and was due to the fault or negligence of the carrier.
A treaty known as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) establishes minimum safety standards for building, equipping and operating ships. SOLAS applies standards pertaining to:
- Crewing (staffing) and crew competency.
- Fire protection.
- Firefighting and lifesaving equipment.
- Navigation safety.
- Watercraft integrity and stability.
- Vessel control.
- Safety management.
- Environmental protection.
A lawsuit that demonstrates failure in these areas may be successful, even though cruise lines take an extra step to try to dissuade passengers from filing legal claims. Tickets typically include clauses that disclaim liability for problems that may occur during the cruise. But in the U.S., contracts cannot dismiss claims for negligence that is willful and wanton or gross.
Cruise lines also require lawsuits to be filed in certain locations, such as Miami or Seattle, as specified on tickets, which are held as contracts. They will prescribe a very short window in which injured passengers must report incidents to the cruise company. When a cruise line knows it is at fault, its lawyers may make a low-ball offer with a confidentiality agreement to an unknowing, injured passenger as a means of quickly closing an unflattering case.
At Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, we know how cruise lines operate and we know how to counter their moves. We have the legal knowledge, the resources and the aggressive attitude necessary to investigate injuries suffered by cruise passengers and to follow up with solid legal claims for appropriate compensation. As New York attorneys, we can assist you here at home regardless of where the paperwork for your lawsuit must be filed.
Contact a Long Island Lawyer if you’ve been Hurt on a Cruise Ship
It is important to seek qualified legal help quickly if you have been assaulted or hurt in an accident while on a cruise ship or during a cruise. An injury lawyer from Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, on Long Island can help you recoup compensation for your losses.
Call Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP now or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.
- International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974
- NBC News – Data on cruise ship crime still falls short, GAO says
- NY Cruise
- The Mobility Factbook – Cruise Ship
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900