Summer is here once again -- and that means that a lot of people will be taking vacation cruises fairly soon. Whether you've never been on a cruise before or you've had plenty of practice, it's important to understand your rights if you get injured due to someone else's negligence on your trip.
How common are cruise ship injuries?
Unfortunately, there's no systematic collection of data going on when it comes to the numbers of assaults, drownings, collisions, fires, falls, food poisoning, and other incidents on cruise ships. The fact that many cruise lines are incorporated outside of the United States and travel in international waters makes it difficult to enforce reporting. Cruises have been referred to as "the wild west" of travel.
What are some of the injuries common to cruise ships?
Most cruise ships are like small cities -- which means that almost anything is possible, especially when you add in the fact that the ship is out there on the ocean somewhere. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Assaults on passengers by cruise ship employees, including violent attacks and sexual assault
- Drownings and diving board accidents in the ship's pool when lifeguards abandon their posts and leave unsupervised guests
- Food poisoning caused by inadequate sanitary conditions in the cruise ship's kitchen or improperly stored food (like food that is left out too long and served)
- Slip and fall accidents caused by uneven decks, obstacles left haphazardly on decks by crew members or decks that have been rendered overly-slick due to treatment or waxing
- Slip and fall accidents caused by broken rails or ladders or stairways that have torn carpets or missing handrails
- Legionnaires' Disease caused by mold that's been allowed to build up in the water or air system
- Viral illnesses caused by allowing a sick crew worker to have contact with passengers or prepare food in the kitchens
- Bedbug bites from cabins and beds that are infected with the insects
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are, unfortunately, an almost endless number of ways that negligence can lead to an injury or wrongful death on a cruise ship.
What should you do if you've been injured on a cruise?
You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will look at the severity of your injuries, the sum total of your losses (including lost wages, medical bills, the cost of the lost vacation and more). He or she can also evaluate the liability of the cruise ship -- including taking a look at what knowledge the cruise ship had of the problem, what type of precautions were taken (or not taken) to prevent injuries to passengers, what type of steps were taken to treat injuries and more.
If the cruise ship's operators could have likely prevented or mitigated your injuries with a little ordinary care or knew about the problem that caused your injuries and did nothing to correct it, you likely have a valid claim for damages.