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New York Cruise Line Negligence Attorney

long island cruise line negligence lawyer

Cruise ships carry thousands of passengers from ship terminals through U.S. waters and international waters, and into foreign waters and ports. Various domestic, foreign and international laws apply to what happens during a cruise. In many instances, a person injured on a cruise ship cannot rely on familiar U.S. laws if someone else is at fault.

Maritime law applies to the world’s international waters” or “high seas,” which begin 24 miles from land. Maritime law is complex and not well defined when it comes to some topics or applications of the law. But in many cases, an accident, assault or other incident that results in a cruise ship passenger being injured is governed by maritime law or even a foreign country’s laws.

This makes it important to turn to an attorney who understands cruise ship accidents, cruise lines and complex maritime and international law if you’ve suffered any kind of injury on a cruise.

The Long Island accident lawyers of the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, have extensive experience handling all types of injury claims. Our lawyers invest the time and resources to get full value for our clients’ cruise ship injury claims. We know how to calculate damages and justify it to an insurance adjuster or a jury.

Don’t settle for less. Contact us now to find out how we can help you.

Cruise Ship Accident FAQs

How common are accidents on cruise ships?

No one knows for sure. Cruise lines have little incentive to report accidents that mar the public picture of trouble-free fun and relaxation on a fantasy vacation. Even federal law adopted to compel cruise ship owners to report accidents has had little effect.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires cruise lines to report major crimes and accidents that occur onboard their ships, including:

  • Homicide.
  • Suspicious death.
  • Missing U.S. national.
  • Kidnapping.
  • 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.

A federal government report said in January 2014 that the 2010 law has resulted in less than a third of alleged offenses being made public. Reports that were made had been delayed by months or years, the General Accounting Office said. These are major injuries; cruise lines have no obligation to report less-serious accidents.

This reporting failure prevents passengers from making informed decisions prior to booking cruise vacations, the GAO said, according to NBC News.

One interesting website by a sociology professor from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada is Cruise Junkie. The site documents reports of “Events at Sea” on an almost daily basis, including running aground, capsizing, “sanitation” problems, sexual assault, fire and more.

How can I hold the cruise company I traveled with responsible for my accident while aboard the ship?

If you can show that your accident was caused by negligence on the part of the cruise ship’s crew, the cruise line company, the ship’s builder or some other responsible party, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injury and losses connected to it.

Employees of a cruise line have a responsibility to ensure the reasonable safety of every passenger aboard the ship. If a passenger is injured in an accident or becomes seriously ill, the injured parties have the right to seek fair compensation for the harm they have suffered if their illness or injury should have been prevented.

Many accidents would be seen on a cruise ship legally the same as they were on land. If a passenger is injured in a slip-and-fall accident because a spill at the buffet line was not cleaned up or marked with warning signs in a timely manner, this may be a matter of crew member negligence. If a passenger slipped and fell on a stairway that was made of slippery material, like stone or glass, the cruise line may be held liable for the negligent design of the ship. A sexual assault onboard a ship that occurred in part because a cabin door did not lock properly may be actionable under a claim of negligent security.

In major accidents, like a grounding, sinking or fire that led to injuries, or a widespread illness, the ship’s policies and procedures and whether they were followed would come into question. For instance, the ship should have procedures for quarantining passengers who report symptoms of certain illnesses. You may be able to seek compensation if the crew’s negligence led to a catastrophic accident or ship-wide sickness.

An experienced cruise line negligence attorney can investigate your accident or injury and determine whether you had a viable claim.

I was hurt in an accident on a cruise ship while overseas, but the cruise started in New York. Will the location of the ship when I was hurt affect my potential claim?

Yes. The location of a ship when an accident occurs is one of the main complicating factors among cruise ship accidents that lead to injury. Cruise ships travel under a variety of laws, including international maritime law, U.S. law, laws that apply where the ship is located and laws of the country where the ship is registered. Cruise line operators count on this jumble of law to hinder passengers’ legal claims.

Individual ships fly the flag of the country where they are registered, and, in general, the laws of that country apply aboard that ship. This is sometimes known as adopting a “flag of convenience.” Meanwhile, passengers are protected by international maritime law, which makes a cruise line liable for injuries to passengers, and by additional laws that apply to ships that leave U.S. ports.

Part of the problem is that foreign countries may not provide protections that U.S. law would provide to a passenger who has been injured in an accident or assault. In most cases, it is unlikely that an injured passenger understands even the basics of a foreign country’s law. At the time of their injury, they are at the mercy of local officials and the ship’s crew. Afterward, they find themselves trying to get answers from an international conglomerate that owns the ship.

But, if you contact a Cohen & Jaffe cruise ship negligence lawyer, our knowledgeable attorneys can untangle the web of laws that apply to your case. If negligence on the part of the ship’s crew or the cruise line company contributed to your injuries and loss, we’ll help you pursue a claim.

I understand that it is easy to become ill on a cruise ship and find that treatment is not available. Is this truly a concern?

Yes, illness can spread rapidly on the tight confines of a ship at sea. Cruise ships have infirmaries with medical staff, but the extent of the medical crew’s knowledge and abilities can vary. You may be days at sea with little help.

A cruise ship is a newly formed community of people who play, eat and live side by side. Any kind of illness can be brought aboard by someone who does not realize they are sick or who simply is not willing to give up on their vacation, regardless of the implications for others.

In addition, cruise ships are huge food-service operations with round-the-clock food and drink preparation and service. Negligent sanitation practices and contaminated food can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses, like norovirus, food poisoning (salmonella), dysentery and other food-borne illnesses. Here’s a CNN report about an incident that left 66 passengers and 17 crew members sick on a cruise in 2014.

Because of close quarters as well as the recirculated air below deck on a ship, illness can spread rapidly once it starts. Even a properly staffed infirmary can be quickly overwhelmed. At a foreign port, medical care options and quality may not meet the standards you are used to at home.

You may be able to obtain compensation if you suffered a debilitating illness that was linked to negligence on the part of the ship’s crew or the cruise line itself. A Cohen & Jaffe cruise ship negligence attorney from New York can advise you about a potential claim.

I was injured in an accident while on a cruise last season. How long do I have to file a claim after a cruise ship accident?

Your question refers to the “statute of limitations,” or the legal deadline for making a claim for damages caused by negligence on the part of the cruise line or its employees. The statute of limitations for legal action after a cruise ship accident is likely to be shorter than for other personal injury lawsuits in New York.

In most cases, the fine print on your cruise ticket includes language that requires you to notify the cruise line within a certain amount of time about any injury that occurs aboard the ship or in port during the cruise. Most cruise lines set this deadline at within six months of the accident.

This information on your ticket serves as a binding contract, which you agreed to at the time of purchase. Your ticket may also dictate which U.S. state a lawsuit would have to be filed in, which may affect the time you have to file a lawsuit.

If you were seriously injured during a cruise, it’s likely you reported it to a crew member or to the infirmary. But you should act quickly to obtain legal assistance if you intend to pursue a claim for compensation. In addition to time that has already passed, it will take some time to investigate your accident and develop and file a lawsuit.

At Cohen & Jaffe, we can review your case to determine the legal options available to you to pursue a claim before the statute of limitations applies. Meanwhile, if you have reported your injury to the cruise line, you may receive a settlement offer. We suggest you contact us to obtain our counsel to review the offer before accepting it. It is likely to be less than you deserve.

What can I expect to pay a lawyer to pursue a cruise line negligence lawsuit?

A cruise line negligence lawyer at Cohen & Jaffe will ask for a percentage of the overall settlement or court award obtained in a cruise ship accident lawsuit. But you will pay no money upfront for our services, and if we cannot obtain money for you, you will pay nothing.

Cohen & Jaffe provides legal services on a contingency-fee basis. This means our fees depend upon us succeeding for you. If you retain our services, we will agree that we keep a set percentage of the settlement or court award obtained in the case. We will also seek reimbursement for certain expenses we pay up front to process and develop your lawsuit.

You will pay nothing out of pocket to seek justice with the assistance of Cohen & Jaffe. We will begin by providing an initial legal consultation about your case at no charge whatsoever. After that meeting, you will have no obligation to retain us for any further work.

We’re ready to get started as soon as you are. Contact us now online or phone us at 866-895-0420 for a free claim review.

Accidents, Injuries Common Aboard ‘Floating City’ Cruise Ships

Cruise ships that carry thousands of passengers are essentially small floating cities. And though everyone is on board for a vacation and a good time, whenever you have that many people together things can go wrong.

Some cruise ship accidents get widespread publicity. You may recall the Carnival cruise ship that was adrift 150 miles off the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire in February 2013. Passengers complained about the lack of air conditioning, cold food and toilets that wouldn’t flush.

But many accidents and injuries occur on cruise ships without ever being reported in the press. The cruise ship industry generally does not release injury statistics. A 2010 law requiring cruise lines to report certain serious crimes aboard their ships has proven to be of little use because of the reports’ lack of timeliness.

Among the types of incidents aboard a cruise ship that may result in serious injuries or other losses to passengers are:

  • Collisions, groundings and sinkings, which may cause a variety of impact injuries, as well as drownings, near-drownings from falling overboard or ship flooding, and hypothermia from extended time in the water.
  • Fires, leading to burn and smoke-inhalation injuries and deaths.
  • Criminal assault, including rape and other sexual assaults, in passenger-on-passenger attacks and attacks by cruise ship crew or staff. Cruise ships in certain waters also face the possibility of being attacked by pirates.
  • Slip-and-fall accidents and injuries on wet, unlevel and shifting surfaces aboard a ship, or because of debris or equipment left in walkways.
  • Foodborne illness, such as gastrointestinal illnesses (norovirus), E. coli, salmonella, etc.
  • Communicable disease outbreaks. These may occur if the cruise line fails to properly screen passengers for illnesses.

Any kind of accident or illness can strike during a cruise and, to complicate matters, the ship may not be staffed with personnel who can provide appropriate medical aid. People may be hurt in swimming pool, wave pool, waterslide or climbing wall accidents aboard, for instance. Onboard parties may get out of hand and cause injuries. Accidents such as motor vehicle or slip-and-fall accidents, or assaults, can happen while onshore at a cruise’s port-of-call or even in the cruise ship terminal.

The ship’s crew, staff and other employees of a cruise line have a responsibility to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of every passenger. When they do not meet this responsibility and passengers are injured or become seriously ill, the injured parties have the right to seek fair compensation for the harm they have suffered.

Cruise Ship Claims Require Special Knowledge, Quick Action

Passengers injured because of negligence aboard a cruise ship may seek compensation from the owner of the cruise ship, the company that chartered the cruise ship, the company that operated the cruise ship, and/or the company that sold the ticket as an agent of the cruise ship owner, charterer or operator.

One of the complications in determining negligence and accountability aboard a cruise ship is that each ship flies the flag of the country where it’s registered, and, in general, that nation’s laws apply on board. This is sometimes known as a “flag of convenience.”

But under maritime law, a cruise line has a general responsibility for its passengers’ safety. The Athens Convention of 1974 establishes a regime of liability for damages suffered by passengers on a seagoing vessel. It declares that a carrier may be held liable for damages or losses suffered by a passenger if the incident causing the harm occurred in the course of the carriage and was due to the fault or negligence of the carrier.

Passengers who embark from U.S. ports are also protected by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). SOLAS applies U.S. Coast Guard standards to crewing and crew competency, fire protection, firefighting and lifesaving equipment, navigation safety, watercraft integrity and stability, vessel control, safety management and environmental protection.

The fine print on a passenger’s ticket stipulates which jurisdiction’s laws apply to a legal claim, and even in which U.S. state a lawsuit would have to be filed. The ticket may also require an injured passenger to notify the cruise line about the injury within a certain amount of time. This is usually within six months of the accident, which is much shorter than the normal three-year statute of limitations (or time to bring a lawsuit) for admiralty and maritime matters.

The details on cruise tickets serve as a binding contract between the cruise line and passenger, and courts will generally enforce their provisions.

A personal injury claim based on cruise ship negligence must take into account the accident or incident that caused the injury, whether negligence was involved and can be demonstrated, and what laws apply to the incident. The investigation into these matters must be thorough, yet concise enough to meet time restrictions. Attorneys handling such claims must have the resources necessary to pursue lawsuits in New York City, Seattle, Miami, Los Angeles or wherever the cruise line is based.

Contact Our New York City Cruise Ship Accident Attorneys

At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, our Long Island cruise line negligence lawyers have the knowledge and resources necessary to investigate and pursue cruise line passenger injury claims. Our comprehensive understanding of state and federal laws and international treaties puts us in a uniquely strong position to provide the results-oriented representation you need to reach a positive outcome in your case.

Our attorneys work with investigators, medical professionals and financial specialists to ensure we fully document your case before we present compensation demands to insurers or jurors. When we go to court for you, we go prepared to win.

Call Cohen & Jaffe or e-mail us today for a free, no obligation review of your case and your legal options.

Sources:

  • Cruise Junkie Dot Com (documented cases of accidents, illnesses and other injuries on cruise ships worldwide)
  • CNN – What cruise lines don’t want you to know
  • The New York Times– How normal are cruise ship mishaps?
  • NBC News– Data on cruise ship crime still falls short, GAO says