A New York City cruise ship lawyer can tell you that accidents, whether on board or off, are covered under the Shipping Acts, as opposed to specific cruise ship laws. However, receiving compensation after an accident is not as simple as looking up the law and then filing your claim in a courthouse near you. A New York City cruise ship accident lawyer will have a lot of questions to answer before they even prepare the paperwork.
If you want justice after a cruise ship accident, it may mean putting in a considerable degree of effort. In addition to the somewhat murky rules and regulations that govern the water and the ships that use it, there are also a lot of powerful people who don’t want you to sue. The cruise lines often have endless resources at their fingertips, and that includes so-called experts and claim specialists who try to stamp out your complaint before it has the chance to get anywhere.
Where to File Your Personal Injury Claim
A cruise line leaving from New York City will likely not allow you to file a lawsuit in the city. Instead, you may have to take the case to Florida, where the company’s headquarters are based.
Statute of Limitations in New York City
The statute of limitations for cruise ship injuries is often reduced to just 12 months after the injury occurred, which is two years less than the standard statute for personal injury in the city. It’s important not to make assumptions when it comes to how long you have. In some cases, you may only have a few weeks to file.
Before the actual statute of limitations can be determined, you’ll have to confirm where you can file the claim. Again, it’s often the state of Florida, but not always. The location is determined not only by the cruise line but also by the travel contract, as well as where the accident occurred.
Liability for Cruise Ships in New York City
Your cruise ship ticket acts as a contract for your trip, and there is plenty of fine print that attempts to limit the liability of the staff and the vessel. While the Shipping Act of 1984 stipulates that all cruise ships are tasked with carrying passengers and returning them home safely, you may need a New York City cruise ship accident lawyer to have a chance of proving that they were indeed at fault.
Your claim will be dependent upon the following:
- The cruise line: Every cruise line has its own perspective on what they are and are not responsible for. While the law may disagree with certain policies its leaders make, it will be up to you to show what the mistake was and how it resulted in personal injury.
- Liability clauses: The liability clauses will list what the cruise line is and isn’t responsible for. The reality is, though, that there are certain elements of the trip (e.g., the stability of a railing) that a cruise departing from New York City is not allowed to absolve themselves of—despite what the ticket states.
- Location: Certain accidents and injuries will depend on the exact place where the incident occurs—for instance, if it takes place between the concrete platform and the walkway up to the ship in the NYC harbor versus in the middle of open waters.
- Country of origin: Cruise lines will have different headquarters for their operations, and this will impact how you can file the lawsuit.
It’s important to know that you do have rights if you were injured in a cruise ship accident, and this is true regardless of how or where you were injured. However, it may take a while to unravel the details so you can move forward with the legal proceedings.
Questions about liability? Contact Tucker Lawyers at (212) 563-1900.
Vendors and Waivers
Suing can be a complex operation, especially when you consider the language that a cruise ship or one of its vendors might use on their paperwork. For instance, you might think that because you signed a waiver that absolved the company from any responsibility, this means that the company can do whatever it wants.
This is not the case. The law states that the cruise ship is not only responsible for all events while on board, but they’re also responsible for the actions of its contracted vendors. If a staff member acted recklessly or the equipment was faulty, you have the right to sue for personal injury.
Representing Yourself in a Personal Injury Case
While it is possible to represent yourself, it’s not recommended. It’s important to find a maritime lawyer who knows your rights and can accurately investigate the claim to truly build your case. Most people don’t have the time to research the laws and efficiently argue their side of the matter.
Types of Accidents on a New York City Cruise Ship
There are a variety of claims that you can file, but the most common suits tend to include:
- Slip and falls: Gangways collapse, carpets get ripped, steps can be faulty, and decks are often slippery. Whether you fell due to a physical hazard, such as a dangerous staircase, or you didn’t have enough light where you were walking, this could be cause for a lawsuit against the cruise ship if the staff were aware and failed to act.
- Collision or grounding: If the ship hits another object in the water or runs aground during the voyage, the jostling and force of the impact can cause people to become badly injured. In some cases, you may even be asked to flee the ship or else risk further bodily damage. If the accident was due to an operator error, this could be grounds for a suit.
- Assault: Assaults, including sexual assault, are not just limited to cruise ship staff members. If you were assaulted by another guest, the ship is responsible for having a medical staff on board that can conduct an exam and notify the proper authorities. If this is not available to you or if you were assaulted due to a lack of security on board, you may be able to hold the ship liable in a personal injury suit.
- Fires: Fires can do more than burn people. They can cause anything from lung damage due to smoke inhalation, dehydration, or heat stroke. As with our other examples, if the fire occurred due to negligence on the part of the cruise line or an individual employee, the physical damage could be enough to file a suit.
The Value of Your Compensation Package
If you want to know how much your compensation package will be for various damages and how much your legal fees will be, it’s going to be difficult to give you an estimate. Every cruise line lawsuit will be judged by the severity of the injury, the circumstances that surround it, and the cruise line at the other end of the suit. It’s worth noting that some lawyers will work on a contingency basis, which means that they won’t charge you unless they win the case.
Typical Length of a Lawsuit
You may have heard difficult stories about cases that drag on in the courts for years. This does happen, though it’s typically due to either an inexperienced individual representing themselves or an inexperienced legal team handling the case. It’s important to find a legal team that can move the process along so that you’re not stuck wondering where you are in the court queue and how long it will take the cruise line to work out their counter case.
How a cruise line responds to a complaint can vary widely across businesses. Some will leap into action to address the complaint, while others will put it off in hopes the delay slows everything down. Cruise lines know that a personal injury can be difficult to deal with on its own, let alone having to add legal fees and court appearances into the ordeal.
Types of Cruise Ship Lawyers in New York City
Cruise ship accidents fall under the category of personal injury, but it’s critical to find a lawyer who has expertise in the specific type of incident that happened to you. For instance, falling when getting onto a tender (the smaller vessel that ferries passengers from another location) is different from being injured on an offshore excursion with an affiliated tour group.
The investigation process, the nature of the injuries, and the equipment involved will all play a role in how the claim is filed and what compensation the cruise ship accident attorney requests. Negligence can come in the form of failing to mark off a slippery area with an appropriate sign, improper storage of food products, poorly maintained equipment, or insufficient safety items on board (e.g., faulty fire extinguishers or not enough life jackets in certain areas of the ship).
What to Do When Your Injury Occurs on Land
As covered above, the cruise line does have some degree of responsibility if you choose to go on their scheduled tours or excursions. Whether it’s through their team or a preferred vendor, they do share some responsibility for your safety at all times when you’re on land.
Should you choose to do your own activities after departing on a cruise from New York City, the cruise line is still expected to communicate with law enforcement. If the cruise line refuses responsibility for certain activities, they have a duty to tell you about their policies.
Food Poisoning on Board
Food poisoning can be difficult to prove when on board, as the cruise line can argue that there could be any number of reasons for a passenger to become ill after eating something. If you happened to eat at a different vendor while offshore, they could argue that the illness originated while you weren’t on the ship at all.
A judge or arbitrator may need to see samples of the food in question before ruling on the case, and not every cruise line will freeze portions of their food for later disputes. While there are exceptions to every rule, food poisoning suits typically work best if there is a massive outbreak on the ship.
What You Can Do to Prove Your Case
Here’s how you can impact the outcome of your lawsuit:
- Collect information: Everyone involved in the case will want to see proof before deciding what to do. Taking pictures of the accident scene and talking to people around you often provide some of the best evidence that you’ll have of what happened and why. Just make sure to record fellow passengers on your phone. Depending on how badly you were injured, it may not be possible to take photos of the accident scene or interview eyewitnesses when it occurred.
- Research historical information: Even if you were the only one injured on your cruise, that doesn’t mean injuries didn’t occur to the passengers on the previous sailing. If there’s a pattern of negligence across cruise trips, this can help you show that your injury was by no means an isolated incident.
- Hire an expert legal team: If you want to prove your case, especially when you’re trying to recover from your injuries, it will mean getting outside help. The right cruise ship injury lawyers will handle much of the grunt work on their own, and they’ll complete it far faster than someone who is taking on a complex legal system from scratch.
Hire Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers in NYC
The right cruise ship lawyers in NYC will be able to assess your case and give you their expert legal opinion. As you work out everything from your expenses to the odds of winning your case, you can at least straighten out the details before you make your final decision. If you can clearly show that the cruise line played a role in your injury, pursuing a lawsuit may be the only way to get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Tucker Lawyers at (212) 563-1900 to learn more about cruise ship laws in New York City.
Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.
John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]