Can COVID-19 Related Class Action Lawsuits be Filed Against Cruise Lines?

A gloved hand hold a vial labeled “COVID-19 Test” above a photograph of a cruise ship. While the poor decisions made by cruise lines to protect their passengers and crew from the deadly coronavirus may have led to widespread illness and death, those seeking a class-action lawsuit against the cruise lines may have an uphill battle toward justice. This is because of the lengthy and convoluted legal jargon on cruise tickets.

In many ways, cruise tickets resemble legal contracts. They feature a variety of built-in safeguards that protect cruise lines from litigation, including language that prevents passengers from filing class-action lawsuits.

In a recent Bloomberg article discussing the challenges of filing class-action lawsuits against cruise lines, The Hickey Law Firm’s founder, John H. (Jack) Hickey, was quoted as saying, “If you print out one of these tickets, it’s like 20 pages of gobbledygook. Most people have no idea the limitations they’re presented with.”

For example, most ticket contracts limit the ability to select federal courts in legal actions, which are mostly in Florida or Los Angeles, regardless of where the plaintiffs reside. Additionally, the Death on the High Seas Act, enacted in 1920, limits judgments for deaths that occur far from U.S. ports.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cruise industry had mostly avoided large-scale litigation over infectious disease outbreaks on cruise ships. In fact, there were fewer than ten lawsuits filed over norovirus (a gastrointestinal illness) since 2006.

Were Cruise Lines Negligent in Handling Coronavirus Outbreaks?

Some of the most vulnerable individuals during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic were those who worked and vacationed on cruise ships. Many passengers and crew members contracted the virus while trapped onboard ships that were unable to dock. Even now, thousands of crew members remain stranded on cruise ships around the world, some have gotten ill and died; others have survived but are not being paid.

Tragically, reports indicate that many cruise lines failed to adequately protect their passengers and crew from the deadly virus after receiving the first warnings that people were sick. The CDC issued specific guidance for maritime vessels and made it abundantly clear that swift detection and containment measures are critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19.

If a cruise line failed to take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of those aboard their ships, and you contracted COVID-19 as a result of their negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your subsequent damages.

Class-action lawsuits can help move cases faster and often result in larger judgements or settlements. However, if the language in cruise tickets prohibit class-action suits, personal injury lawsuits can still be filed individually or in smaller groups.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Case for Free

The experienced maritime attorneys at the Hickey Law Firm serve clients in and around Miami Florida and nationwide. Our legal team is intimate with the complexities of personal injury law and can determine if negligence may have played a role in your illness.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Hickey Law Firm remains available to assist with your legal matter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We continue to serve our clients and accept new matters through a variety of no-contact options, including:


Phone: (305)371-8000

Text: (844)984-1937