Cruise Ship Accidents and Injuries Can be Complicated

New Orleans is one of the most popular destinations to embark on a vacation cruise, and it is the sixth largest port in the nation. In 2017, New Orleans serviced 1.15 million cruise passengers, which was a to date record.   We welcomed a 4,000 passenger Norwegian cruise ship in November of 2017, which was the largest passenger cruise ship to arrive in New Orleans ever. 

It is so popular, in fact, that Carnival has just debuted a New Orleans themed cruise ship called “Mardi Gras". This 180,000 ton ship is scheduled to set sail in 2020, and will service 5,000 passengers.  It will have a French-Quarter themed deck lined with bars, a traditional jazz club, and even a roller coaster.

Although the worst thing that happens to most cruisers will be a sunburn or a hangover, there are many instances where a passenger is injured on a cruise ship, sometimes seriously.  These injuries can include food poisoning, sexual assault and rape, battery, a slip and fall accident, injuries while on excursions, or even death or a missing person.  Unfortunately, legal regulations of cruise ships are complex, there is no traditional “law enforcement” on board, safety personnel onboard are limited and medical attention (often contracted out by the cruise line) is scarce.  

Because of the lack of services on the ship, it is most often incumbent on the passenger to take the investigation of their case into their own hands to document what occurred.  If you are injured on a cruise ship, make sure you seek medical attention, report the injury to cruise ship personnel, file a written report with security, collect the information of any witnesses, such as their names, phone numbers, and addresses, try to take photographs and video evidence, and contact an attorney so that they can protect your rights.

While each case is different, typically the ticket that you purchased to go on the cruise will govern what claims you can make, where you need to make them, and the timeline you agreed to make them within.  That is, your ticket may limit the time to bring a suit to just a year or less rather than the three years you may have otherwise had under maritime law.  Additionally many of the tickets require a lawsuit to be filed in Florida.  That’s right, even if you buy your cruise ticket in Arkansas, drive to New Orleans, and go to Mexico without ever getting near Florida, and get injured on your way back to New Orleans, you may have to bring claim in Florida.

If you have been injured on a cruise ship in New Orleans and are in search of a cruise ship lawyer, please give us a call. We are licensed in Louisiana, New York, California, and Florida.  We can handle these claims even if you do not live in Louisiana.

— Megan C. Kiefer is a partner at Kiefer & Kiefer who handles cruise ship injury litigation.

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.  

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