12.2 million people travel on pleasure cruises originating from North America each year. All of those passengers contribute to the over $87-billion cycled through the U.S. Cruise Ship industry annually. These statistics increase year after year, but what doesn’t increase are the safety policies ensuring passenger safety. In 2017 through the first quarter of 2018, the FBI investigated more than 100 serious crimes on cruise ships, with the majority of those being sexual assault.
We are maritime accident lawyers, and we would like to reveal what to do after a cruise ship accident. But first, let’s take a look at the most common accidents that happen onboard.
- Slip and Fall – Cruise ships operate on water and in humid conditions, this makes them prone to slip and fall accidents among their passengers. Some of these incidents are random events. Upon investigation, however, some turn out as legal disputes over the negligence of the ship operator or staff.
- Foodborne Illnesses – Cruise ship galleys serve thousands of people throughout a passenger’s stay onboard. While these spaces are heavily regulated, situations do happen when the cruise operator is found at fault for onboard sicknesses.
- Swimming Pool and Spa Accidents – As is in the case with land-based pools, these spaces are equally prone to accidents aboard ships. These accidents range from poorly maintained water features, like slides and ladders, to improper water temperatures creating serious illnesses among passengers.
- Stairs and Escalator Incidents – People trip and fall all the time, and while these can often result due to clumsiness, a fall can also be a result of negligence. Stairs and escalators can cause plenty of injuries to passengers if they are not maintained regularly.
- Recreational Accidents – Cruise ships are chock-full of activities, many of which include physical features like zip lines and wave simulators. Problematic events happen while using these features which may or may not be the result of negligence.
- Sexual Assault – Crimes at sea are unfortunately more common than not. In fact, sexual assault is one of the highest occurring crimes found at sea and typically involve an FBI investigation.
- Drownings – With water found overboard and all over a cruising vessel, accidental drownings happen more times than they should. An investigation will reveal if a cruise ship operator is at fault.
After a Cruise Ship Accident
There are some specific actions you can take after an accident onboard if you believe you were not at fault for your injuries. As cruise ship accident lawyers, here is a look at the actions we suggest you take immediately.
- Seek Medical Treatment – No matter the extent of your injuries, it’s best to seek medical attention to ensure your injuries are not life-threatening and that they are well documented.
- Report Your Accident – Your next course of action is to report the incident to the proper onboard authorities. This is likely the ship’s security team and medical personnel.
- Document Everything – Document everything you can about your accident. This includes where the accident took place, the day, time and anyone who was involved. Take note of all the details surrounding the accident, including what happened before it took place and directly following the event. You will also want to document who you reported the incident to.
- Request Your Reports – Once you file reports with security and the medical office, request to have those documents copied so you can take that with you.
- Return to the Accident Site – At this point, you’ll want to take notes and photos of everything at the accident site. An accident lawyer can help you with any surveillance video that may have captured what happened onboard, including what may have led to the incident.
- Witness Contact Information – Before leaving the site, if possible, connect with anyone who witnessed your accident. Request the witnesses names and contact information for your legal team.
- Seek Further Medical Treatment on Land – Once you reach the next port, and depending on your injuries, seek further medical evaluations if you feel you need additional care. Obtain copies of this information as well before leaving that medical facility.
- Hire an Admiralty Accident Lawyer – Your best course of action after you get back to your port of call is to seek a local admiralty lawyer. Jurisdiction of accidents at sea are different than those that happen on land, and you need an experienced maritime lawyer to help you sort through these time-sensitive issues.
Cruise ship accidents are relatively rare by comparison to other means of travel. Unfortunately, they are often more devastating due to the unique environments and locations that they occur in. If you have experienced an accident on board, such as an injury on a recreational deck or in your cabin, you may have a personal injury claim. Furthermore, if you have experienced a crime like sexual assault or the death of a travel companion, please reach out to Madalon Law so we can support you through this unfortunate event. The statute of limitations for cruise ship injury cases is incredibly short, so please don’t hesitate to seek legal support from our cruise ship accident lawyers.