When Cruises Go Wrong: Who is to Blame?


New York Couples, families, and individuals go on vacations all year round in an attempt to escape the hustle and bustle of their busy work lives. One of the most common choices in vacation destinations recently have been cruises. Although many cruise lines offer a relaxing get-away from the fast paced reality, and paradise seems all around, accidents still happen. But an critical question is emerging: can passengers hold cruise owners and operators responsible for personal injury?

The simple answer is that it depends on the type of injury and the cause of the injury. You can only sue the cruise owner or operator if the personal injury is as a result of negligence or wrongdoing on their part.

There is greater scrutiny of the cruise ship industry ever since the January 2012 Italian cruise ship disaster. The tragedy exposed the limited protection offered to cruise ship passengers when they lose loved ones or suffer personal injury.

If the personal injury was caused by failure to observe the standardized cruise ship regulations, you can sue a cruise ship owner or operator. In your lawsuit, you must demonstrate the failure to abide by regulations. As an example, cruise ships owners and operators are required to put measures in place to ensure there are no slip-and-fall accidents. These measures include ensuring that the right type of flooring is used and that the floor is clean and everything is in its place.

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) provide that a cruise ship owner is required to have sufficient lifeboats in place and that the cruise ship is subdivided into compartments that are water-tight so that the vessel remains stable and afloat once the hull of the ship is damaged. If lifeboats are not sufficient or the compartments are not watertight, leading to fatality when the ship sinks, you could sue the cruise ship owner for wrongdoing.

According to the International Safety Management Code, the captain of the cruise ship needs to be qualified for the job. You could sue the cruise ship owner for failure to hire an expert if improper operation of the vessel leads to the accident that is responsible for the personal injury.

Similarly, you may also sue a cruise ship owner or operator if there is an accident and you can prove that it is caused by insufficient lighting or by inadequate measures to prevent passengers from falling overboard. 

The possibilities are extensive and the law is complex, for this reason it is crucial to hire an experienced personal injury attorney if you or a loved one were injured on a cruise ship.