Last week, an 8-year-old boy drowned after falling into a pool abroad a Royal Caribbean cruise ship off the coast of New Jersey. The death comes in a string of almost a dozen drowning or near-drowning accidents on cruise ships in the last two years.
Many cruise ships have large public pools and even water parks, but no lifeguards on board. That's because most cruise ships are registered in foreign countries that don't have the same safety standards as the United States. Though the ships are saturated with entertainment options for both children and adults, the dangerous risks associated with those entertainment activities are often done at the risk of the cruise participants.
But while they are out at sea, cruise ships follow a different set of standards altogether: maritime law. Though cruise ship companies try to limit their liability, the companies are still responsible for some types of injuries that result from negligence, incompetence, or willful acts of abuse.
Last fall, a man was awarded $21.5 million dollars in damages for an injury that occurred on a Holland America cruise. In 2011, 61-year-old James Hausman was struck by an automatic sliding glass door on the cruise ship. Doctors aboard the cruise ship noted that Hausman had a chipped tooth, a cut on his face, and a minor concussion, but Hausman continued his scheduled cruise.
When the cruise finished and he got back to shore, Hausman visited another doctor. He was suffering memory loss, seizures, and vertigo. New doctors told Hausman he had a mild traumatic brain injury. Hausman is one of 34 passengers who were injured by automatic doors on Holland America ships between 2008 and 2011.
Hausman's attorney argued that the cruise ship failed to follow recommended settings for the automatic doors, setting them to close more quickly to conserve air conditioning. Holland America continues to insist that Hausman walked into the doors himself, and that the doors were functioning safely. The award includes $16 million in punitive damages against the cruise line
Cruises are also notorious for spreading food-borne illnesses to passengers like norovirus, also known as the stomach flu. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in the first five months of 2016, nine different cruise ships reported incidences of norovirus. These outbreaks can occur when cruise ship operators improperly prepare food, fail to warn passengers about recent outbreaks of the virus, or fail to deep clean the ship after such outbreaks.
Other cruise ship injuries include:
- Overboard falls
- Dock accidents
- On-shore injuries during port stops
- Boat fires
- Falling objects
- Slip and fall accidents
- Physical assaults
- Accidents caused by the negligence of the crew or other passengers
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury on a cruise ship, you need to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. Call our offices today to schedule a free consultation.