A cruise is supposed to be a relaxing getaway from the stresses of everyday life. Unfortunately, the injuries that occur on the mainland during everyday life sometimes follow us on board. There are many potential hazards on cruise ships that can injure you and there are many causes. Luckily, rules and regulations enforced by the US Coast Guard and Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) have been established to help prevent injuries and fatal accidents at sea. However, injuries can happen even with these rules in place, and you should be prepared.
Common cruise ship accidents include assault by crew members or other passengers, food poisoning, sexual battery, slip and falls, trip and falls, and injuries on excursions. Slip and fall injuries are very common and occur on cruise ships just as easily as they do on land. Several serious fires, resulting in injuries, have also been reported in recent years aboard cruise ships all over the world. Passengers may be trampled during a fire if the crew is unable to manage evacuation at the exits. If the fire is so intense that passengers must abandon ship, they can injure themselves as they depart from the ship to enter a life boat. Passengers may suffer from burns if they are close enough to the flames, but most fire injuries happen during the escape. Passengers may also suffer injuries at the pool, in the gym, or as a result of navigational errors made by the crew. If a passenger visits a doctor while onboard the ship they may become victims of medical malpractice.
The list of possible injuries is never-ending. Cruise ships have as many passengers as small cities, and come with all of the threats and possible I injuries that small cities do. Thankfully, cruise lines and their ships are regulated by maritime law and must adhere to these rules to guarantee the well-being of passengers and crew. If you are still injured, despite the laws put in place for your safety, you should alert the crew and ship’s physician right away, photograph the scene, including anything that may have contributed to the injury, take note of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any possible witnesses, especially passengers and crew that you have been in touch with, photograph the injury (if there is visual evidence), and request copies of your medical records and other documentation prior to the end of the trip. If you suffer a severe injury and you’re well offshore or visiting a foreign country, request that the cruise company return you to the US for medical attention. Make sure you hold on to all paperwork from the cruise and make a copy of the incident report. Cruise ships do have a legal responsibility for your safety, but are very reluctant to pay for any damages. Retain as much information as possible and consult your ticket to see if any restrictions apply to file a legal claim.
In the end, we should all be cautious on a cruise line. If an injury does occur, remember to get as much information as possible, and contact an attorney experienced in tourist and cruise related accidents. Don’t let the injury award you deserve sail off into the sunset.