Injured On A Florida Cruise Ship?
Florida is a very popular cruise destination year-round, with several cruises leaving for points in the Caribbean even through October, November, and December. That said, an accident can happen at any time of year, and if it does, you have somewhat limited options as to how to bring suit over your injuries. It is crucial that you understand your position if you have been injured, as cruise ship accidents cannot be handled in the same way as accidents on land.
There are multiple different types of accidents that can happen on a cruise, both on and off the ship, with examples including food poisoning, slip and fall accidents, violent crimes committed by crew or other passengers, and people falling overboard. As a general rule, the cruise ship has a duty to exercise reasonable care with regard to the well-being of its passengers, but due to a combination of consumer ignorance and laws that skew in the cruise line’s favor, it will rarely be held liable for injuries suffered by their customers. If you are injured, you need to be aware of your options and limitations both.
For example, the standard statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Florida is four years from the date of the accident. This means that you have four years after you are injured in which you can file suit against the person or company you believe to have been responsible. However, cruise ships are not governed by Florida law; they are governed by either the law in the place where they are registered or by regulations set out in your ticket contract (and you accept the ticket contract when you use your tickets). Usually, a ticket contract will state that the statute of limitations on injuries is only one year, rather than four – and because Florida law does not apply, this is perfectly legal. Many passengers are unaware of this and get a nasty surprise when they try to bring suit only to be told it is too late.
One other major issue that the average injured person may not be aware of is that when you bring suit against a cruise line, you must do it in the federal district where the line is headquartered. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines is headquartered in Miami, so any lawsuit against them has to be brought in state court or in the federal Southern District of Florida, depending on the specific situation. However, if you trip and fall on a ship owned by Princess Cruises, you would have to file in the appropriate courts in California, as their headquarters is located in Santa Clarita, California. Mounting a long-distance lawsuit is quite difficult, and can be cost-prohibitive for some people.
Cruise ship accidents involve aspects of maritime law, which is markedly different than standard negligence law that one would use on land. Maritime law has notice requirements – in many cases, you are required to provide written notice to the cruise line that you intend to bring suit, with countless lawsuits being dismissed due to lack thereof – and can generally be confusing to try and navigate on your own. Given the liberties that cruise lines are legally permitted to take in trying to shield themselves from liability, having an attorney who understands the potential stakes is crucial.
Call A Tampa Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer
Cruises should be fun and exciting memories, not times that you would rather forget. If you have been injured during a cruise, you need a Tampa personal injury attorney who is able to assist you in getting through the complex process of seeking compensation. The Rinaldo Law Group is well versed in this type of lawsuit, and we will work hard to give you experienced and dedicated representation. Call us today for a free consultation.