What Should You Do In Case of a Cruise Ship Injury?

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By Marcus Fernandez

The COVID-19 pandemic halted travel and greatly affected industries like cruise ships in 2020. Recently, industry-leading protocols are facilitating the resumption of cruise tourism around the world, which is putting people back to work and reinvigorating local and national economies. And it’s no wonder why travelers are eager to set sail; cruises offer onboard entertainment and crew members whose job it is to ensure that passengers enjoy their trip.

However, there’s always a chance that you or a traveling companion could suffer from a cruise ship injury. It pays to know what to do to obtain medical care and how to protect your right to be compensated.

Common types of cruise ship accidents

A common cruise ship accident is slipping or tripping on floors or decks that become wet from onboard swimming pools, rough seas and weather conditions, and spilled food and beverages. Stairways can be particularly dangerous for passengers who may fall and suffer an injury due to the following:

  • Unlit or poorly lit stairwells. 
  • Broken or missing handrails. 
  • Poorly designed stairways and handrails. 
  • The improper or varying height of each step. 
  • Loose, torn, or worn carpeting. 
  • Debris or liquids left or spilled on stairs.

Ship designers and builders use thresholds at doorways to prevent water from entering interior areas. The thresholds may be higher than passengers are used to walking over at home and may cause someone to trip and fall. Cruise ship operators may be held liable for failing to post warnings at entryways to alert passengers to a tripping hazard.

Perhaps the last thing travelers think of as being a cause of a cruise ship injury is criminal activity. Cruise ships sailing from ports in the United States must report crimes occurring on board to the FBI. One major operator reported eight sexual assaults among the 11 serious crimes it reported occurring during the third quarter of 2019. It represented a 267% increase over criminal activity the operator reported during the third quarter of the previous year.

Liability of the Cruise Operator

A passenger could suffer from a cruise ship injury caused by an assault or other crime committed by a member of the ship’s crew. They should consult a cruise ship injury lawyer as soon as possible. Operators of the vessel may be responsible for paying compensation to injured passengers in this situation.

A vessel’s operator may also be responsible for injuries caused by crimes committed by passengers against other passengers. Evidence of a lack of adequate security measures in place to prevent criminal activity may allow a cruise ship injury lawyer to hold the operator liable.

Cruise ships have been described as floating cities, so it is not uncommon for passengers to become sick while on board. There may be times when an illness is widespread and affects many passengers. For example, more than 300 passengers became ill on a cruise ship that departed a port in Florida in 2018. 

There may be many reasons unrelated to unsafe or unsanitary conditions on a ship that cause passengers to become ill. However, improper handling and preparation of food or a failure to properly clean water tanks or ventilation systems that cause illness may allow a person to recover damages against the operator of the ship.

Common cruise ship injuries suffered by passengers

Whether caused by participating in onboard recreational activities, contracting a serious illness, or being the victim of a crime, some of the common injuries suffered by cruise ship passengers include:

  • Traumatic brain injury 
  • Head injuries and concussions 
  • Bone fractures 
  • Spinal trauma  
  • Back injuries 
  • Neck and shoulder injuries 
  • Lacerations and internal bleeding 
  • Food poisoning  
  • Legionnaires’ disease and other respiratory infections

Deaths may also occur in an accident by a failure of the crew to maintain a clean and safe environment.

Steps to take when injured on a cruise ship

If you or a loved one is injured while on a cruise ship: 

  • Seek medical attention. Most ships have a doctor and medical facilities on board. Other things you should do include: 
  • Report the accident or incident. Let the nearest crew member know that you have been injured or are sick and need to make a formal, written report. Be sure to ask for a copy of the incident report that you or a member of the crew fill out. 
  • Always be careful about what you say. Be as accurate and factual in describing what happened. Avoid downplaying the severity of your condition or the pain that you experience. 
  • Take pictures. Do not rely on members of the crew to take photos of the location of a cruise ship accident or your injuries. Take the pictures yourself. If you are too injured to take them, ask a family member or person you trust to take them. 
  • Contact a lawyer. Crew members and other people working for the company operating the cruise ship may not be looking out for your best interests. Contacting a Tampa cruise ship lawyer as soon as possible means you have someone to protect your rights. 

Moreover, various laws may apply to accidents and injuries occurring on a cruise, further complicating your case. Therefore, representation by an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer ensures the proper handling of your claim for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other compensation.