Going to sea on a cruise ship means living under maritime law, also called admiralty law, which is different than the law on land. Passengers or crew members who are injured on an ocean or river voyage need experienced legal counsel that understand this challenging area of law. A Fort Lauderdale cruise ship accident lawyer may have experience recovering damages in many of these complex cases. If you have been injured while on a cruise ship, consult a qualified boat accident attorney that can devote the time and resources necessary to build your personal injury case.
Maritime law is the only body of law that is specified in the U.S. Constitution and courts today are still defining the parameters of maritime law overlapping with state and international laws. So, jurisdiction, meaning the proper place and court to file a lawsuit, is complicated. Most cruise ship lines sail under the flags of foreign nations that do not have safety regulations as stringent as those in the United States. The laws of the foreign flag apply to events aboard ship.
Yet, U.S. law applies if an act against or by a U.S. national happens outside of a flag’s jurisdiction. When ships leave from a U.S. port such as Miami, where many cruise lines have headquarters, state law applies, too. Although an injured person may live far from a U.S. port where a civil lawsuit must be filed, courts do not change the venue where the case is held.
The ticket to board ship is a legal contract written in small print on the back of the ticket. Cruise lines usually require that aboard ship injury lawsuits against them be filed where they have offices. These locations are Miami, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
The amount of time, called the statute of limitations, that an injury lawsuit against the cruise line must be filed, according to the ticket, and could be one year or less from the date of injury. If not provided by the ticket, maritime law allows three years to file, and a Fort Lauderdale cruise ship accident lawyer can assist with this process.
This information is found on the back of the ticket under a notice requirement clause in small print. Failing to file within the correct time period forever prevents the injured person from suing on that particular matter.
Passengers are owed a heightened duty of care for protection from injury and from harm caused by assaults committed by other passengers or crew, and to ensure passengers get to their destinations safely. The duty of care can extend to shore at ports of call.
Maritime law allows carriers to be held liable for injuries if ship operators knew of an unsafe condition, or it was their job to know, and the condition was not corrected. Passengers injured aboard ship may sue the cruise ship owner, the company that operated the ship, the firm that chartered the ship, and the business that sold the ticket.
Ships that board passengers in the U.S. must under law satisfy the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). This law regulates navigation safety, watercraft integrity, fire protection, life-saving and firefighting equipment, among other safety measures.
If a passenger falls overboard, the cruise line is liable if it does not make a reasonable search and rescue attempt. Crew members may also sue if they are injured in the course of their jobs under the U.S. Jones Act if the company violated the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.
Anyone who is injured during an ocean cruise should consider a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale cruise ship accident lawyer to evaluate if a valid personal injury lawsuit exists. The attorney will explain maritime law and answer any questions. Work with a skilled legal advocate that can build a solid personal injury case for you.
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