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Can California Residents File Injury Claims for Accidents Occurring on International Cruises?

February 23, 2024

Is it Possible to Seek Compensation if You’ve Been Hurt During an International Cruise?

When someone books a vacation on a cruise ship, they generally don’t consider the possibility that they could get hurt. Unfortunately, while cruise ships are supposed to be safe for all passengers, they still present many potential hazards that could result in serious injuries. Cruise ships are large vessels with many moving parts, and errors or oversights can lead to severe harm. From trips and falls on slippery decks to falling overboard due to unsafe railings, hundreds of people are injured or die on international cruises every year.

You have legal rights if you are a California resident injured on a cruise ship due to negligence. You may be able to file a claim for an injury occurring on an international cruise and recover compensation for your losses. However, the legal process is complicated by the interplay of maritime law, international laws and treaties, and specific contractual terms of each cruise line. Skilled legal representation from a cruise ship accident lawyer is vital to navigating these complexities and pursuing compensation effectively.

What Makes Personal Injury Claims Resulting From International Cruise Accidents Different From Other Types of Personal Injury Cases?

International cruise ship cases are complex due to the application of maritime law once the ship is beyond a certain distance from a US shore, typically about 12 nautical miles. Maritime law introduces jurisdictional challenges and different legal standards compared to land-based personal injury claims. It’s key to seek legal advice from attorneys who understand maritime law and have experience with cruise ship accidents to ensure you get the most accurate guidance and information possible.

Cruise tickets often contain contractual terms that can affect the ability to file a lawsuit, including specifying restrictions and stipulations regarding when and where an injured passenger can take legal action. However, many people do not carefully read their contract prior to signing and may be surprised to discover these limitations after they’ve experienced an accident during their vacation. For example, many cruise lines require all claims to be filed in specific locations regardless of where the passenger resides or where the ship left port. This rule can add increased challenges and costs to your case if the allowed jurisdiction is far from your home.

What is the Statute of Limitations on Filing a Personal Injury Claim For a Cruise Ship Accident?

In addition to the challenges listed above, there may be shortened time frames for notifying the cruise line of an injury and filing a lawsuit, making prompt legal consultation essential. The statute of limitations for filing a cruise ship injury claim in California, and generally in most states, is typically one year from the date of the incident. This deadline is often stipulated in the fine print of the cruise ticket contract.

However, cruise ship companies generally require a written notice of your intent to file a claim to be made within six months of the injury. This deadline can approach rapidly when you are attempting to return home and recover from a frightening accident. Your lawyer can delve into the details of your contract to determine the exact time frame for filing and ensure you meet all requirements to maintain your right to seek compensation.

What Should You Do if You or a Loved One Have Been Injured on a Cruise?

Cruise lines have a duty to adhere to all applicable safety laws, including the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010. The operator of the cruise and its employees must take reasonable steps to ensure passenger safety. If they fail to uphold their duty through negligence or intentionally harmful acts, they may be liable for the damages incurred by an injured passenger.

However, accidents can happen quickly, and crucial evidence for your claim may be difficult to collect after the ship has returned to port and witnesses have gone home. By taking the following steps, you can improve the likelihood of building a solid case:

  • Report the incident and get medical care: As soon as the accident occurs, notify the cruise ship authorities. This action will initiate an official incident record, which can be crucial for your claim. Seek an evaluation by the onboard medical staff, even if you believe you only suffered minor injuries. Knowing the extent of your injuries is vital to getting timely treatment and protecting your well-being.
  • Gather evidence: Important proof of the conditions that led to your accident can disappear quickly on a cruise ship. Collect as much evidence as possible, including photographs of the accident scene, witness statements and contact information, medical reports, and other relevant documentation.
  • Understand your contract: If possible, review the terms and conditions of your cruise ticket. It often contains important information about where and when you can file a lawsuit, as well as any deadlines for notifying the cruise line of an injury.
  • Consult a lawyer: Due to the complexities of maritime law and the specific terms of cruise ship contracts, it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer experienced in this area. They can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and advocate on your behalf.

Can You File a Claim if You Were Employed By the Cruise Line?

Passengers aren’t the only individuals who can be harmed by dangerous conditions or negligence on an international cruise; crew members can also experience accidents and injuries. These claims must be handled differently than passenger injuries because cruise ship employees may be covered by the Jones Act or other maritime laws. The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, regulates the US maritime industry and outlines the compensation available to seamen injured on the job. Due to the complexity of these claims compared to typical workers’ compensation or personal injury cases, it is recommended that plaintiffs speak to a knowledgeable cruise ship crew member accident lawyer to learn about their legal rights.

How Can Our Firm Assist You?

Our skilled lawyers at the Law Offices of Preston Easley can help you navigate the specific legal challenges of an international cruise claim, including jurisdictional issues and the application of maritime law. If you or a loved one have experienced losses due to your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and physical or mental anguish, we can help pursue full compensation on your behalf. However, prompt action is vital to ensure you meet all notification and filing deadlines set by the cruise line. Don’t hesitate to contact our office today at 310-773-5207 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

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Preston Easley is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He served five years of active duty as a Naval officer — three years as a deck officer on a fast frigate and two years as a patrol boat skipper. Mr. Easley also served aboard a tank landing ship in the reserves.




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Preston Easley is an experienced lawyer with considerable expertise in handling federal and state personal injury cases. He will aggressively seek the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. Attorney Easley represents victims of serious and fatal accidents involving cars, trucks, construction projects and maritime work.

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