Every year, many people board cruise ships, excited for a much-needed vacation. In spite of the luxurious accommodations, tropical destinations, and exotic appeal, cruise ships can be a source of accidents and injury. On cruise ships, injuries and even deaths can be the result of overcrowding, bad weather conditions, unsafe ship conditions, and the failure of the ship’s crew to adequately prepare for disasters.
There are tons of articles in the media about cruise ship incidents. Recently, in June 2015, the cruise ship Saint Laurent crashed into a wall while entering a lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway New York. Nineteen passengers and three crew members suffered injuries.
Fires onboard, crashes with other ships, and severe weather are all among cruise ship nightmares. These nightmares strike cruise tourists and vacationers more often than many people know about.
Injured parties with viable claims against a cruise line company can include both passengers and crew members. So, what do you do when your dream tropical vacation turns into a nightmare or if you are a crew member injured at sea? Follow these steps to get help if you or a loved one has been injured in a cruise ship accident or have suffered another vacation accident.
The first step anytime that you have been injured is to seek medical care at once.
Many large ships have a medical center that is staffed by nurses and physicians, or have diagnostic medical services and can perform x-rays and blood work. Large cruise ships may have even more sophisticated diagnostic capabilities. Make sure that you obtain a written record of your visit to the onboard medical center along with a diagnosis. Also, be sure to provide an accurate medical history to the ship’s physician. Do not lie or make up parts of your medical history.
After you have been seen by medical personnel, obtain a photograph or take video evidence from the scene of your accident. If you fell, try to take video and photographs of where you fell. Afterward, upload any photographs and video to Google Drive or iCloud, or another cloud-based storage facility. These photographs and videos can be used as evidence.
If you fell, make sure that you keep the shoes that you were wearing. Defense attorneys for cruise ships often request for litigants to produce the shoes they were wearing at the time of the fall for examination. If there is excessive wear or tear on your shoes, it can be argued that they were to blame for the fall.
Get contact information of witnesses, if possible. If there were any witnesses to a shipboard crime or a slip and fall, ask them for names and phone numbers. Cruise lines know the names, addresses, and phone numbers of every passenger on the ship and will not hesitate to contact them to assist in the defense of your claim. If you have a witness ask them to assist you.
Take pictures of any cuts or bruises. Record everything in a journal or use a note taking app in your phone to document the name and title of any crew members you spoke with.
Cruise lines are prepared to defend against lawsuits. It is very common for a member of the ship’s security crew to ask you to recreate what happened. They will often take photographs, measurements, and write down detailed notes. They might ask you to sign an incident report. If you sign an incident report, be completely honest and detailed in your description of the incident. Do not make up facts or provide incorrect information as this can be used against you later.
If you sign an incident report, make certain that you ask the cruise ship crew to provide you with a copy of the incident report or form. Take a picture of this form and upload it to a cloud-based storage facility. Keep the original report or form.
It is a natural reaction to want to share significant events on social media the minute that they happen. In the cases of cruise ship accidents or injuries, do not do this. Several cruise lines routinely monitor social media, and will use anything that you post about the accident to defend themselves.
The law of the land doesn’t quite apply to the high seas. This is not such great news if you are the victim of an accident or a crime while onboard a cruise ship. Very few cases of crime are ever thoroughly investigated on cruise ships. Maritime law (the law that applies to cruise ships on the water) is very complex. Cruise ships are not required to report crime statistics to any governing body. The question of who’s supposed to investigate when a crime does occur is a tough one. Most often the investigating is done by ship’s security. The security personnel are typically employees of the cruise lines. It is important to contact an experienced cruise ship attorney, one who fully understands maritime law — like the attorneys at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys.