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Shipboard Accidents: What to do if the unthinkable happens

When booking a cruise, future passengers typically do so with the belief that it will be a vacation filled with excitement and entertainment with lush accommodations. Some passengers onboard cruise ships do not have the experience they expected when they bought their ticket. Cruise ships are a floating city and can be dangerous with some of the same hazards as found on land. Passengers generally do not think about shipboard accidents before departing since they think being on the ship is safe.

Dangers on Ships and Common Injuries

There are some types of injuries that are reported more frequently than passengers realize because the cruise ship industry is busy promoting how enticing their cruises are for vacationers. Common shipboard injuries include:

  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Food poisoning
  • Foodborne illness
  • Infections due to unsanitary conditions
  • Injuries suffered participating in on-ship activities
  • Assault and battery
  • Sexual assault by other passengers or crew members

What Steps to Take After an Incident

Cruise shipboard accidents are a bit different when a person is harmed for two reasons. First, the ships are usually not licensed and registered in the United States which may have implications if you are seeking to hold a cruise line accountable for your injuries. Second, is the fact that once out of port and far enough out in the ocean then it is under Maritime law. Congress has enacted laws to help American passengers pursue compensation after sustaining harm on a cruise ship.

If you suffer an injury on a cruise ship, the steps to take depend on the nature and circumstances surrounding the occurrence. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident or food poisoning see the ship’s doctor for treatment. Prepare a written account of the incident while it is still fresh in your mind so that no details are left out. If the harm is severe it is possible the injured person will be taken from the ship to get the medical care they need.

When the harm is caused by an assault or battery, report it immediately to the ship’s security, seek treatment from the ship doctor and ensure that it is documented. Write down everything about the event while it is fresh in your mind. When writing an account title the document that it is For my attorney, Del Hovden. The benefit in doing so is that they will be protected from disclosure to the other side if we choose not to share the document. Yes, insurance companies have long known to protect their client statements and use this to their advantage at every possible opportunity. YOU deserve no less.

Take photographs of anything which seems it might be helpful. Take photographs of your injuries, the area where you were injured, and of any writings. That is right, take photographs of any written information for the possibility it might be lost, stolen or destroyed. Forward the photographs in your phone to yourself or someone else so that there is digital evidence which will also survive destruction or confiscation of the device.

Be sure to get the name, home port of any ship personnel you speak with regarding the matter. It is not uncommon that ship personnel will help too as they are not infrequently not big fans of the ship owners.

Contact me when you have an opportunity. Although I might not be able to do much if you are off the coast of Belize, you never know. It is not uncommon that clients thank me for the reassurance that they are doing the right thing, or hints of other things which can be done.

Contact the local office of our Embassy – if you are in a foreign port – for assistance in a wide variety of areas and concerns. The Embassy can help you find qualified English speaking doctors and other health care providers. They know the best facilities for care and how to best deal with particularly local issues, such as police, documentation, passport losses and many issues which tourists face in foreign ports. Yes, as unique a problem as you think you have, there is a good likelihood that a career officer in the Embassy has seen it before.

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