Since the mid-1980s, cruise ship vacations have increased in popularity with Americans. With the rise in demand and passengers, cruise ships are larger and more luxurious. With that size and luxury arise more and more commonplace accidents and injuries akin to those experienced on land. If you were injured on a cruise ship, you may be wondering what type of cruise ship settlement you can expect and who is responsible. You probably don’t know where to begin to get compensation for your injury. Here, we’ve assembled an easy-to-follow outline to understand cruise ship settlements and what to expect in the process.
Cruise Ship Liability
The Shipping Act of 1984 (46 U.S.C. §1702(6)) defines cruise ships as common carriers. As a common carrier, cruise ships owe their passengers a duty of care. The U.S. Coast Guard also requires Cruise ships that take passengers out of U.S. ports to follow the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which covers matters involving crew training and competency and vessel seaworthiness and maintenance. Under all these laws, a cruise ship’s duty of care is examined under a negligence standard.
Your Ticket Is Your Contract
If you are injured on a cruise ship, look at the back of your ticket for some very important information. Usually the small print will tell you:
- The deadline to provide notice of your injury to the cruise ship,
- The deadline to bring a lawsuit,
- Where you can sue the cruise ship company (i.e., the forum), and
- What laws will control your case.
To sum up these three points, the forum is usually in Florida, California, or Washington State. The notice period is usually six months or less, and the time to bring a lawsuit is within one year of the injury event. You should pay careful attention to the restrictions on your ticket because U.S. courts usually enforce these restrictions. That’s why hiring the top rated serious injury law firm in Boca Raton immediately is so vital.
Types of Damages and Settlement Amounts
Cruise ships are floating cities packed with a wide array of activities, and the types of injuries sustained can be just as varied. As such, it is very difficult to identify an average cruise ship lawsuit settlement. However, by laying out the categories of damages covered and what is taken into account in each of those categories, you can better understand what your case looks like. Settlements for cruise ship injuries usually encompass damages for:
- Medical bills and expenses,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Lost wages.
Each one of these requires expert analysis to accurately determine its value. Note that occasionally punitive damages are added to the settlement calculation. However, situations that qualify for punitive damages are rare and narrow.
Medical Bills and Other Expenses
Medical expenses (past, ongoing, and future) will be part of all cruise ship injury settlements. The calculation should include all reasonable expenses related to treating your injury. Also, keep in mind that you do not have to know about all the medical expenses you might have, but they do have to be reasonably anticipated for you to include them in the calculation. Some appropriate medical expenses are:
- Emergency services,
- Diagnostics and testing,
- Transportation (including to and from the cruise ship),
- Physical therapy, and
Be sure to include follow-up surgeries or additional therapy sessions (physical and mental). Also include other expenses such as specialized medical equipment, prescriptions, etc.
Pain and Suffering
While pain and suffering can be the most difficult calculation, it is also probably the most important in getting a fair settlement from a cruise ship company. Experts are almost always needed to accurately quantify damages for pain and suffering. But to give you an idea, physical pain and suffering often includes consideration of:
- The actual injury,
- Disfigurement, and
This list is not exhaustive, and if you suffer physical pain that does not seem to fit under this list, do not hesitate to tell a trusted professional.
Mental pain and suffering is real and may involve
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Sexual dysfunction,
- Sleep problems, and
- Mood swings.
In addition, because mental pain and suffering is so difficult to quantify, various ancillary factors are often needed to complete the picture. Share all your experiences of emotional pain and suffering with a trusted professional so you can get the help you need.
A cruise line settlement can often include an award for past and future wages that were impacted by your injury. For past wages, a calculation is made between what you were earning before your injury and what you failed to earn while you were injured. The difference is your past wages claim. It gets complicated when calculating future wages (i.e., your loss of earning capacity). To calculate losses for future earning capacity, you will probably need an expert.
What You Can Do Now
Check your cruise ship ticket to look for limitations of your rights. As discussed, these commonly are:
- Deadline to notify the cruise ship of your injury,
- Deadline to file your lawsuit,
- Where the lawsuit must be filed, and
- The law that will govern your case.
In addition, gather together all receipts, bills, invoices, and medical statements related to your injury. Be sure to include receipts for expenses that are not medical, but still related, such as transportation, equipment, first aid supplies, etc. If you’re not sure whether an expense should be included as part of your settlement with the cruise ship, talk to your attorney about it.
Grossman Attorneys at Law has handled cruise ship settlements with all major cruise lines including Carnival Cruise settlements and Princess Cruises settlements. With years of experience, and our personal one-on-one interaction, we can help you quantify your injury into the cruise ship settlement that you deserve. Contact us today.