Embarking on a cruise is an exciting time. You expect to escape from the humdrum of daily life and explore new shores with your loved ones or as a solitary adventure. You probably do not expect to suffer an injury. However, accidents happen – even on vacation. If you sustain an injury on a cruise ship, learn your rights according to maritime law and contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in West Virginia.
Cruise Ships and Maritime Law
Cruise ships are common carriers, as are companies that transport goods or passengers on regular routes. Other common carriers include airplanes, trains, buses, and ferries. Maritime law holds common carriers to high standards of safety while transporting passengers to a destination. Maritime law, also called admiralty law, combines United States and international laws. It covers all injuries or offenses that occur on the water.
Maritime law covers any public body of water – not just oceans – as well as interactions between two or more ships. It also covers the captain’s obligations to the crew and passengers, crewmembers’ rights, and the rights of passengers aboard cruise ships. In the United States, federal courts have the right to file maritime lawsuits in state courts. Injured passengers have the right to file a claim against the owner of the ship if negligence caused their injury.
Are Cruise Ship Tickets Legal Contracts?
If you have ever read the back of a cruise ship ticket, you may have noticed it describes what the ship operator is liable for and where you can file a lawsuit. When you purchase a cruise ship ticket, you are legally accepting its terms and conditions. The ticket may include clauses protecting the operator from emotional distress liability, a clause indicating the state you can file a lawsuit, and a notice-requirement clause.
A notice-requirement clause gives you a time period within which you are allowed to file a claim. The statute of limitations on cruise ship personal injury claims is relatively generous. Injured passengers have three years to file a claim against a cruise ship owner or operator for negligence. The ticket may allow shorter periods of time for physical injuries – about 12 months – or even shorter for non-physical injuries. Read the back of your ticket before boarding to understand the statutes of limitations for your particular cruise ship.
Although the back of your ticket protects ship operators from liability, it does not protect them in the event that an act of negligence causes your accident. For example, if you fall down a flight of stairs because of a broken railing, you could sue for compensation despite the terms on the back of your ticket. Proving negligence is the most difficult part of any personal injury case, but it is possible with the right West Virginia premises liability lawyer.
Proving Negligence in a Cruise Ship Accident
If you were injured on a cruise ship, contact a lawyer about your incident. A personal injury attorney will investigate the accident, the cruise ship, the crewmembers, and the ship’s operator. He or she will find eyewitnesses of the accident and hire expert witnesses to attest to the fact that an employee or operator was negligent. Your lawyer will help you gather evidence of negligence to present in front of a judge. Not all cruise ship accidents are due to negligence, but many are and can lead to injured passengers obtaining compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental distress.
Injured on a Cruise Ship? Call a Personal Injury Lawyer in Charleston, WV
Ship crewmembers and operators have a legal obligation for reasonable care of passengers. If a crewmember intentionally or negligently causes you harm, the courts may find the operator responsible for injuries. If you slipped and fell on a deck, tripped over a threshold, fell down stairs, or a crewmember assaulted you, contact Tiano O’Dell, PLLC today.