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Cruise Ship Accident Investigation

How an experienced lawyer from The Doan Law Firm can help with your Cruise Ship Investigation

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.

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  1. After an accident, the responsible party's insurance company may try to reduce the claim amount. Commonly, insurance adjusters are trained to get information from the injured to assist in reducing the claim. Though some insurers are less guilty of this practice than others, it is important to realize that insurance companies are profit-oriented corporations and reducing claims results in increased profits for shareholders. This can create a situation for the injured in which they are offered a settlement that does not truly reflect the damages suffered. If you accept this settlement, you lose the ability to get more money should your injuries require further medical treatments. It is critical that victims get legal assistance in any personal injury case, and The Doan Law Firm is prepared to fight relentlessly for your rights.
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