How to Sue a Cruise Line

Cruise Ship, Maritime and Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Miami, Florida & Nationwide

Posted: June 25, 2019

Miami Lawyer stands on deck overlooking cruise ship after accidentIt seems that cruise ship vacations are advertised everywhere, flooding our social media and television with images of smiling families, beaches, and fun excursions. Unfortunately, many cruise passengers are disappointed by the reality of these luxury ships and may even end up with illnesses or injury due to the conditions or lack of safety onboard. Severe injury, sickness, and even physical or sexual assault occur on these cruise ships every year. Suing a cruise line for damages from these incidents requires a Maritime attorney and understanding your time limits. 

John H. (Jack) Hickey Was a Lawyer for Cruise Lines, Now a Lawyer for You®

Documenting the Accident and Preserving Evidence

You must report the incident to cruise ship security and employees in the area immediately. You will provide a statement and make sure you ask for a copy. Cruise lines are not obligated to preserve evidence and often refuse to give you a copy of your statement if you don’t ask for it then and there. Take photographs of the scene, collect names and contact information from witnesses and cruise ship personnel, and document as much as possible.

Seek medical treatment onboard and again when you return to make sure all injuries are documented, and you receive the best care possible to recover fully. Rape and sexual assault have to be reported to the FBI, which is sadly left to the victims. It’s unlikely the cruise line will contact the FBI for you. 

Join our Cruise Ship Injury & Assault Facebook Group to receive resources and support from fellow cruise ship injury victims.

Time Limits and Statute of Limitations

Filing your claim right away is absolutely crucial to preserving your lawsuit. The way in which you bring your lawsuit against the cruise lines is outlined in your Passenger Ticket Contract. There are four critical parts of this contract that could cause you to lose your claim if not followed including:

  • The “Venue:” You must file your claim against the cruise ship in the location and court indicated on your ticket. This venue is typically Federal Court in Miami, Florida for major cruise lines such as Carnival, Celebrity, and Norwegian.
  • Timely Notice: Completing the accident report and writing a letter to the cruise line doesn’t count as timely notice. The Passenger Ticket Contract lists the strict time period (often six months or 180 days) in which you must give written notice describing the incident. Some contracts limit this to 30 days.
  • Statute of Limitations: Also outlined in the contract, the statute of limitations typically requires you to file your lawsuit within one year of the cruise ship accident or assault.
  • Does the Athens Convention Apply? The Athens Convention outlines the liability for injuries and other damages that happen to passengers of a seagoing vessel, which caps the amount of compensation you can pursue. This is also noted in the Passenger Ticket Contract but does not apply to any cruise that touches a port in the United States.

A Maritime Attorney with Successful and Extensive Cruise Ship Lawsuit Experience

Another vital part of suing a cruise line is choosing the right attorney. Maritime Law is a specialty legal area. While some lawyers may know the law, they likely don’t know the cruise industry. You need a Miami lawyer who not only understands cruise ship accident claims and Maritime Law but has a strong reputation and successful experience such as our John H. (Jack) Hickey who was a lawyer for cruise lines and now represents injured cruise ship passengers. He understands the way cruise lines work when it comes to cruise ship lawsuits and knows how to build a compelling case.

Contact Our Maritime Attorney in Miami

If you or a loved one has been injured on a cruise ship, please contact the Hickey Law Firm in Miami, Florida today at (305) 371-8000 for a FREE consultation. We serve clients throughout Florida and nationwide.