A personal injury can inflict pain, frustration and uncertainty. As someone suffering from an injury, you and your family will have many questions.
- Can I sue?
- Is another person or company at fault?
- Can I be compensated for my injury?
- Can I get help with hospital and medical bills?
The list of questions is endless. Importantly, your lawyer will have questions for you as well.
These questions help determine the best way to help you. Remember, each cruise injury or accident claim is unique based on the details surrounding the accident.
Some inquiries will result in passengers being able to sue for compensation for their injuries. Other inquiries will not.
The following questions will help you determine whether or not you have a valid claim against the cruise line.
1) Date of the injury / accident?
This is important as most cruise lines will dictate when injury claims must be made — generally, cruise lines will need to have claims filed within six months of the accident.
*Each cruise line has different requirements for claims filed and lawsuits filed. Looking at the ticket contract that you signed with the cruise line will reveal this information.
Yes. It’s written in ‘lawyer language’ — that’s because the cruise line’s ticket contract was written by the cruise line’s lawyers to protect the cruise line — not to protect you.
Remember — cruise lines are in the business of making money. Battling the lawsuits and injury claims of hurt passengers does not help the financial bottom line. The goal of the cruise lines is to minimize lawsuits by making it difficult to file legal claims without the help of experienced cruise ship injury lawyers.
Often, the ticket contract can be boiled down to this:
Written Notice of claim: Must be received within 185 days of injury or death, etc.
Lawsuit: Must be filed within 1 year from injury or death, etc.
2) On which Cruise Line were you traveling?
A simple question, but each cruise line also dictates where litigation must occur. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines states that lawsuits will take place in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami, Florida.
Again — ‘where litigation takes place’ is unique to each and every cruise line. Many do take place in Florida, but some cruise lines will dictate that Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles are the locations.
If you don’t live in a place convenient to those locations, you may be required to travel. Again, the cruise line is making it difficult to follow through on your claim — and — forcing you to incur travel costs.
3) How did the injury occur?
You’ll want to be very specific with the details surrounding your accident.
The attorney you speak with will likely ask more questions to better clarify details if needed. Details make a case.
Details can also help your attorney to ask better questions that might uncover reasons for the accident.
Was it sheer negligence on the part of the crew? A simple ‘no-fault’ accident?
It can also help your attorney build a quick timeline of the incident.
4) Where on the cruise ship were you when the accident happened?
Accidents happen throughout the ship… and off the ship as well… on shore excursions and on tenders that carry you from ship to shore.
Knowing where the accident occurred may give your attorney more insight as to why the injury happened.
Accidents aboard a tender generally have different reasons than do injuries sustained inside your cabin bathroom, hallways, stairwells or ship restaurants.
In Nov. 2015, a jury in Seattle awarded an Illinois man $21 million dollars for a head injury he sustained due to faulty motion sensor sliding doors that were not working properly.
After investigating, the passenger’s attorney found that issues with these sliding doors in the exact location had previously injured other passengers.
5) Why do you believe your injury was the fault of, or was caused by, the cruise line or the crew?
This is important. Sometimes, accidents are just accidents and are not the fault of the cruise line or its crew.
This is where the lawyer you speak with can help you determine if you have a valid claim for suing the cruise line for help with your injuries.
6) Were there any witnesses? Would you be able to contact them?
Witnesses can potentially offer insight and information that will support your claims.
Often, they see and hear things that an injured passenger may not — for an injured passenger, there can be a great deal of confusion during an accident.
These witness may have a clearer of what happened and can be a great resource.
7) Do you have any photos of the accident, your injury or the scene of the accident?
Like witnesses, photos also can offer more details than just relying on your memory of the event.
Perhaps you were able to photograph torn carpet on stairs, a broken handrail, water on a restaurant floor, etc.
Timing is important here too. It’s not unheard of for areas to be cleaned up or fixed or re-arranged soon after an accident so that it makes it harder to determine what may have led to the injury in the first place.
8) Did you file an injury or medical report with the cruise line?
This documentation is important and may help to establish and/or clarify details. Your attorney can request those reports as part of your claim.
9) Have you seen a doctor since you returned home after your cruise?
Your attorney will want to know if you’ve seen a doctor after your injury.
They’ll also want to eventually know details — when did you visit, what was your evaluations, what further treatments were scheduled, etc.
Again, it will help to determine a timeline of doctor visits and associated costs.
10) What kind of medical costs have you incurred in dealing with your injuries (doctor visits, hospital care, surgery, rehabilitation, medications, etc.)?
It’s also important to keep the details of follow-up visits and any costs associated with treatments.
Ask for copies of paperwork and billing from any medical service provider you visit after your accident.
11) Have you missed time at work? What is the amount of salary or earnings lost by missing work?
Many injuries force passengers to miss work or impact their earnings if self-employed.
You’ll want to keep track of lost days or lost opportunities as this can impact the amount that you may be compensated.
Without the injury, you would have been back to work. With the injury, you’ll need to replace lost income… and potentially, future income as well.
To contact a Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer about an injury you suffered while on a cruise, follow the link.