Slip And Fall On A Cruise Ship
Millions of Americans board cruises every year, and the more people the more likely an accident is to happen. The most common accidents on cruise ships are slip and fall accidents. Cruise lines have a duty to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the ship for their passengers. However, wet, slippery decks, lots of area to maintain, and other factors make cruise ships uniquely prone to slip and fall accidents. These accidents can happen on an open deck, by the pool, in a restaurant, a theater, bathrooms, a dance floor, and other common areas. Additionally, under United States maritime law, there is a minimum threshold of slip resistance under wet and dry conditions that the floor surfaces have to meet called the “coefficient of friction.” This means that cruise ship operators’ are required to provide adequate slip resistance on open decks and walkway surfaces.
Common Causes of Cruise Ship Slip and Fall Accidents
The accidents mainly happen on the pool deck. This area of the ship is covered in resin flooring on most modern cruise ships. This material is less prone to cracking and separating when the steel deck underneath expands or contracts. However, a small amount of water can make this resin material slick and cause accidents. Slip and fall accidents can also occur because of inadequate lighting, failure to repair or replace stair railings, failure to repair worn-down non-skid deck surfaces, or the cruise ship’s swaying and movements.
Dangerous conditions created by other passengers include, but are not limited to: spilled drinks, wet or foreign substances, food in restaurants, and loose flooring to water tracked in by guests using the swimming pools. Some injuries may result from negligent design or negligent maintenance on the part of the cruise liner. Lastly, severe weather like wind, heavy rain, and rough seas are also common contributing factors to slip and fall accidents.
Common Injuries from Cruise Ship Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall injuries on cruise ships can often be more serious than those on land. When someone falls on a cruise ship, they may fall from a great height and possibly go overboard only compounding their injury and possibly threatening their lives. The majority of cruise ship passengers are also over 50, so these kinds of accidents can cause them more serious injuries.
The most common injuries resulting from cruise ship slip and fall accidents are:
- Broken Bones to Arms and Legs
- Orthopedic Injuries
- Head & Brain Injuries
- Fractures Requiring Surgical Repair
- Ligament & Tendon Injuries
- Injuries to Extremities like Hands, Wrists, and Knees
- Concussions and Closed Head Injuries
- Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
- Lacerations and Contusions
Liability & Building A Case
Under federal maritime law, cruise line operators owe a legal duty of reasonable care. Cruise line operators and their employees are legally responsible for keeping their decks, floor surfaces and other common areas on the vessel in a safe condition. When a cruise liner or its employees have failed to do this, they have likely been negligent and can be held liable for your injuries.
What constitutes reasonable care is different for each individual case. Sometimes a visual or verbal warning about an area or marking off said area can be enough to constitute reasonable care. However, not every danger is immediately cleaned up or blocked off from unsuspecting passengers. If the dangerous condition existed long enough, regardless of who created it, that it should have been noticed and taken care of, the cruise line has a legal obligation to clean it up, give a warning, or block off the area. If this is still not done and you are injured, the cruise liner may be found negligent and responsible for your injuries.
Under the federal maritime law, cruise liners also owe a legal duty to warn customers about known dangers. This means a cruise liner can be liable for your injuries for something as small as failing to put up a wet floor sign if that wet floor caused your injury. Additionally, even if you know a specific employee created the hazard or failed to warn of the hazard, the cruise liner can still be held liable for the actions of their employees acting within the scope of their employment. Liability is not easy to determine on your own, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help you build a case to hold the cruise line liable for your slip and fall injuries.
Building a Case
Most cruise liners have you enter into a passenger ticket contract when you purchase your cruise tickets. These contracts often limit when, where, and some of the procedures you will have to follow to successfully file your cruise ship slip and fall lawsuit. These contracts may limit your time to file a lawsuit to as little as one year between the accident and filing. Most of these contracts also require you to provide written notice of your intent to pursue a claim to the cruise line within six months from the injury date. Some of these contracts also require the accident to be documented while on board.
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If you are injured, you should first seek treatment for your injuries. However, with such a small amount of time to develop your claim and meet the requirements of a passenger ticket, it is important that you report the incident to a security officer as soon as possible. Cruise liners are not required to provide you with any documentation or to take photographs of the scene. It is important that you gather any evidence that you believe will help your case on your own. Collect a copy of your police report, a report of your injuries, and take pictures of the scene and your injuries. If anyone saw the incident, you should collect the names and contact information for those witnesses. Then, you should write down the events that led to your injury as best as you can recall. All of this will be helpful to your attorney in building the strongest case possible for you. A lawyer experienced in both maritime and personal injury law can help you build your cruise ship slip and fall injury lawsuit. Your lawyer will help you pinpoint the cause of your accident, determine if the cruise liner can be held liable, and get you compensation for your injuries. Cruise ship injury cases are complicated, and you need an attorney you trust to help you navigate your case.