In 2019, nearly 30 million people chose to spend their vacation aboard a cruise ship, and the vast majority of them had a fun, relaxing and overall fantastic experience. In fact, a report published by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association shows that 92% of people who vacation at sea will book another cruise while 65% consider cruising to be the best form of vacation. With all of these positive customer experiences, it is little wonder that the demand for cruise vacations has increased more than 20% over the past five years.
Unfortunately, not every passenger is able to enjoy such a positive experience as onboard injuries have steadily climbed over the same period. Injuries, which can arise from slip and falls, assaults, outright collisions or even through the spread of bacteria and viruses can not only ruin a vacation…they can result in physical and financial damages lasting a lifetime.
Of course, cruise passengers do have recourse if they are injured due to the negligence or fault of the cruise operator, but they must act quickly to preserve their rights. The cruise lines are granted broad latitude by the United States Congress and International law to restrict claims in ways that catch many injured passengers unaware.
The most important of these restrictions are the deadlines to provide notice and ultimately file a lawsuit. These restrictions are buried in the fine print of a cruise ticket that most vacationers never read and they include:
- The passenger must provide written notice of a claim including the facts giving rise to the injury within 180 days;
- The passenger must file a lawsuit within 1 year or any claim will be forever barred;
- The passenger must file a lawsuit in a very specific location chosen by the cruise line regardless of where the passenger or the witnesses live (usually this location is in South Florida);
- Most claims must be filed in federal court.
Failure to meet any of these deadlines will result in a claim being denied and any subsequent lawsuit being thrown out of court. Therefore, it is imperative that injured passengers meet with an experienced cruise injury attorney who can help navigate them through these and other, strict rules for bringing a maritime claim.
The law firm of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC has been representing injury victims throughout Florida for more than 95 years.
This blog is by attorney Joshua Ferraro who handles cruise ship claims at the Firm.