Cruise Ship Accident Investigation
How an experienced lawyer from The Doan Law Firm can help with your Cruise
As we have seen in other articles posted here, maritime law provides a
ship owner with some degree of immunity from liability for any injuries
that occur while passengers are onboard. According to traditional maritime
law as interpreted by federal courts in the United States, a ship operator
is liable for an injury only if 1) the injury was caused by a failure
to practice reasonable caution in the operation of a ship or 2) the injury
was directly the result of a deliberate action by the ship’s crew.
Given these conditions, and other factors, it can be difficult to for an
injured passenger to demonstrate that a cruise ship’s operators
and crew were negligent and that the passenger’s injury was due
to that negligence. Fortunately, it is possible to successfully pursue
an injury claim against a cruise ship operator if you have an experienced,
aggressive, cruise ship accident lawyer working with you. In the following
sections our cruise ship accident layer will explain the steps that you,
an injured passenger, can take that will strengthen an injury claim against
a cruise ship operator.
Document the circumstances of your cruise ship accident
Years ago, the one thing that you were guaranteed to find on a cruise ship
was a camera. Today you will find that practically everyone on a ship
has a smart phone of some type and that such phones have cameras.
Take photos of the accident area as soon as possible after an accident,
even if the area has been cleaned or repaired. This will serve to document
at least some of the physical evidence regarding your injury. You should
also talk to other passengers that may have photos of the same area. If
you find other passenger photos, ask the other passenger to send copies
of their photos to your e-mail account. Since all smart phone photos have
a date and time stamp embedded in their photos, such images may help your
cruise ship accident lawyer build a case for negligence on the part of
the cruise ship operator.
Carefully read anything that you are asked to sign
If you need medical attention after an accident you will probably be told
that you will have to sign a “Consent to Treatment” or some
similar document. This is required by federal law and the cruise ship
medical staff has every right not to treat you until this form is signed.
However, some cruise ship operators have been known to include a “Release
from Liability” or something to that effect within the consent form.
Such statements or paragraphs are an attempt to get your signature on
something that says you are releasing the cruise operator from any responsibility
for the circumstances of your injury.
As the patient, you have the right to have each part of a consent form
explained to you in a manner that you can easily understand. If you come
to a part of the consent that says anything about “liability”
or “release from liability,” you have the right to ask to
have that part of the consent “struck” from the consent before
you sign. Should they refuse your request, you should demand that your
objection be noted on the consent. They must agree to your demand or they
will face a potentially nasty federal investigation.
How a cruise ship accident lawyer can help
Cruise lines are very much aware that the typical passenger does not have
a background in law and will almost certainly use this lack of knowledge
to their own advantage when faced with an issue of potential liability
for a passenger’s injury. By retaining the services of a cruise
ship accident lawyer, you will “even the playing field” if
you need to file an injury lawsuit.
A cruise ship accident lawyer will have access to experts in all areas
of cruise ship operations who will be able to judge the circumstances
of your accident and may be able to strengthen your claim by pointing
out errors in operations that should have been noticed before your injury.
Although the services of such experts can be expensive, your cruise ship
accident attorney will usually bear such costs out of his or her share
of your injury settlement.
To summarize, filing a claim for a cruise ship injury can be a complex
process due to the fact that maritime law usually favors the ship’s
operator over an injured passenger. By retaining the services of an experienced
cruise ship accident lawyer you will stand in a better position to recover
a fair settlement for your injury.