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Liability in a Cruise Ship Accident

While recovering compensation for injuries that happen on land is a relatively straightforward process, determining liability for a cruise ship accident and filing a claim is much more complex. Because cruise ship accidents occur at sea and often on vessels that are not U.S. company-owned or registered, liability for cruise ship accidents is handled under a combination of maritime law and state law. Following a cruise ship accident, seeking the counsel of a maritime attorney is recommended.

Common Carrier Negligence

A cruise ship is a type of common carrier, or a vessel, that is used for transporting people or goods. Common carriers are obligated to exercise a high degree of care in transportation of passengers. In a claim against a cruise ship, liability for injuries that a person has incurred is based on the cruise ship’s negligence. This means that a victim must prove that the cruise ship operator failed to act with reasonable care and that this failure was the direct cause of the victim’s injuries.

For example, failing to maintain the cruise ship in a reasonably safe condition—like failing to repair a broken handrail—is an example of negligence. If the lack of safe conditions or the presence of a dangerous condition leads to an accident, then the cruise ship will be held liable if the operator knew of the condition but failed to correct it in a reasonable amount of time.

Application of Maritime Law

Maritime law refers to a unique set of laws that govern the relationship between sea vessels and those injured on those vessels. Because cruise ship accidents almost always occur while the vessel is at sea and because many cruise ships are not registered in the United States, a civil action for a cruise ship injury must be pursued under maritime law. Under maritime law, if the cruise ship’s operator knew or should have know about an unsafe condition, the carrier will be held liable for resulting injuries. A cruise ship’s operator may also be held liable for negligent acts of the cruise ship’s employees.

In a civil action under maritime law, damages for noneconomic and economic damages are available. However, punitive damages are usually precluded. In the event that the injured person is a cruise ship employee, then the Jones Act will be applied.

Statute of Limitations for Cruise Ship Injury Claims

While most personal injury claims in Texas must be filed within two years’ time, claims for cruise ship injuries usually have a unique statute of limitations. Typically, a cruise ship ticket or/and cruise contract contains specifics about the amount of time an individual has to bring forth a civil action. Often times this is one year, although it may be as short as six months.

Consult with a Maritime Attorney Today

The skilled Houston maritime attorneys at Forrest & Kolodny, LLP have experience in cruise ship litigation and maritime law. Because cruise ship claims are often extremely complex, hiring a maritime attorney for legal representation can be instrumental in recovering your full damages amount. To schedule a free consultation with our lawyers today, call us now at 713-532-4474.

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