Here are the 5 things you should know about any claim against a cruise line for personal injury, slip and fall, trip and fall, or sexual assault or rape:
1. Report the Incident Immediately.
Report the incident immediately to the security officer and other personnel in the immediate area. When you provide the security or safety officer with a statement, ask that you be provided a copy of that statement right then and there. If you do not receive a copy then and there, they will not give you a copy.
If you have injuries, seek medical treatment immediately. Go to the ship’s infirmary and report the accident.
In the case of a sexual assault or rape, report the incident immediately to the FBI. Do not rely upon the cruise line to report it to the FBI.
Medical treatment in the case of rape or sexual assault will in course include a rape kit examination. That examination should be accomplished as soon as possible.
After you leave the cruise ship, you should seek medical treatment right away for any physical injuries or problems.
2. Preserve the Evidence.
Preserving the evidence is critical in any claim or injuries caused by the cruise line. This is because the cruise line will not preserve evidence for you and will not provide such evidence. If you file a claim, the cruise lines are not obligated to provide photographs which are taken in the course of their investigation. Accordingly, you need to take photographs or have someone take good digital photographs of the area. Take photographs of the entire area as well as photographs of whatever it was that caused the accident.
The next chore for preserving evidence is to take down the name and contact information of all passengers and crewmembers who witnessed the incident or the condition of the area of the incident at any time before or after it happened. This information is crucial. This information is difficult to get from the cruise line.
3. What Law Applies.
When you are injured on a cruise ship, maritime law applies. Maritime law is a specialized area of the law. Maritime law applies to personal injuries on any vessel (like a cruise ship or gambling boat or tanker or freighter) on a navigable waterway (like the Atlantic Ocean, the Inter-coastal Waterway, any river, or the Caribbean Sea). It applies to Jones Act seaman, that is the people who work on ships, and it applies to passengers on cruise ships. Because maritime law applies to injuries which occur on ships in navigable water, most lawyers do not specialize in or know this area of the law.
4. When to Give Notice and File Suit.
You preserve your claim only by providing the 6 month notice and filing suit within one year. Filling out an accident report and writing letters to the cruise line do not preserve your claim.
You must do two things in order to preserve your claim. First, you must provide to the cruise line a notice in writing describing the incident within a certain period of time. Commonly, that period of time usually is 6 months or 180 days of the incident. (For property claims, the notice period can be as short as 30 days, and the filing period as short as 6 months). All of these requirements should be spelled out in the Passenger Contract Ticket, that is the cruise passenger’s ticket. The terms and conditions also sometimes appear on the cruise line’s website.
The one year statute of limitations in the Passenger Ticket Contract, generally, is enforceable.
5. Where to File Suit.
The cruise lines require that you file suit against them in a certain city and state specified in your ticket. This is called in the law a “venue selection clause”. These clauses generally are enforceable. Buried in the fine print of your Passenger Contract Ticket, back many pages, there is a paragraph about where you have to sue them. It is usually toward the end of the ticket. No matter where you are from, no matter where you bought the ticket, no matter where you got on the ship, this rule applies.
- In all cases against Carnival Cruise Lines, you must file suit in Miami, Florida.
- In all cases against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, you must file suit in Miami, Florida.
- In all cases against Norwegian Cruise Lines, you must file suit in Miami, Florida.
- In all cases against Celebrity Cruise Lines, you must file suit in Miami, Florida.
- In all cases against Oceania Cruises, you must file suit in Miami, Florida.
- In all cases against The Yachts of Seabourn, you must file suite in Miami, Florida.
- In all cases against Celebration Cruise Line, you must file suit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
- In all cases against Costa Crociere, where the cruise touches a U.S. port, you must file suit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Where the cruise does not touch a U.S. port, the claim must be filed in Genoa, Italy.
- In all cases against Discovery Cruises, you must file suit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
- In all cases against MSC Cruises, you must file suit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
- In all cases against Silversea Cruises, you must file suit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
- In all cases against Disney Cruise Line, you must file suit in Orlando, Florida.
- In all cases against Crystal Cruises, you must file suit in California.
- In all cases against Cunard Line, you must file suit in Los Angeles, California.
- In all cases against Princess Cruises, you must file suit in Los Angeles, California.
- In all cases against Holland America, you must file suit in Seattle, Washington.
Other cruise lines specify other cities and states.