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Cruising for a Bruising: legal help for injured ship passengers

Tourism is one of the key economic engines driving the economy of Louisiana. Because of the state's access to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and other bodies of water, many tourists flock to the state to embark on cruises along the river, Lake Pontchartrain or into the Gulf and beyond.

Although passengers on a cruise are looking to relax and unwind, there always remains an element of risk on a ship. The possibility of becoming ill or being injured on a ship cannot be ignored. Should misfortune befall you on a cruise, it can be difficult to determine what the next steps should be.

Passengers on a paid marine excursion are subject to Maritime or Admiralty law, just the same as the captain and crew. Any legal claims a passenger makes for injury, illness or other mishap against a cruise operator are subject to Maritime law.

Common cruise ship injuries and illnesses

Although a cruise ship is designed to be a safe and secure environment, not everything always goes according to plan. Common shipboard incidents include:

  • Slips and falls on wet decks
  • Falling due to heaving seas
  • Illness, either food-borne or air-borne

This, of course, is not a comprehensive list of possible issues a passenger may encounter while onboard.

What to do if you're sick or injured on a pleasure cruise

If your incident occurred without being observed by a crewmember, reporting the incident as soon as possible could strongly benefit any future legal actions. Early notification not only gives the crew a chance to assist, it also helps you in your case later by showing you took the necessary steps onboard.

Documenting the incident and taking note of the location and the conditions at the time could also prove invaluable to your cause at a future time. Any information may be helpful in demonstrating negligence on the part of the crew and/or operator.

When you sign a cruise contract with a cruise ship company, you may have enacted a Forum Selection Clause. This clause allows the ship operator to select a jurisdiction where a lawsuit must be filed. The jurisdiction may not necessarily be the port of embarkation, or any of the ports of call. A statute of limitations also applies to a cruise ship lawsuit under Maritime law.

Maritime Law is not the same as standard personal injury law

While it may seem as if any personal injury lawyer can help after an accident on a cruise ship, this is not necessarily the case. Maritime law requires a specific understanding beyond the scope of typical personal injury claims. This specific branch of law involves cases over navigable waters where negligence may have played a role in injuries or fatalities.

A lawyer who has experience with Maritime law and passenger injury cases in Louisiana may be able to help you make sense of your rights and assist in the pursuit of a lawsuit. No one wants to come home sick or injured after a vacation. If someone else's negligence has turned a dream vacation into a nightmare, the right lawyer may be able to help you win the compensation you deserve.

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