Things to Know Before You Go – And What to Do If Things Go Wrong

Cruise Safety Tips from a Certified Specialist in Maritime Law

Things to Know Before You Go – And What to Do If Things Go WrongCruises can be great. But there are things to know before you go. Here are some helpful hints.

First, you can learn from others. There are a massive number of people going on cruises. And that number increases every year. Over 20 million people took to the seas for ocean cruises in 2022 alone. And those numbers are expected to rise this year.

Second, know that Hickey Law Firm knows about cruises: cruise lines, cruise ship law, cruise ship and cruise line operations, cruise ship crewmembers, cruise passengers, cruise ship medical care, and cruise ship excursions. We know about the good things about cruises and we know about the injuries and incidents which occur on the cruise ships and the cruises. We know about the medical malpractice in the medical care on the ships, the rapes and sexual assaults on the ships, the injuries on the ships from all things including slips and falls and trips and falls, and injuries off of the ship including injuries on excursions. How do we know? The leader of the firm, John H. (Jack) Hickey, represented the major cruise lines for the first 17 years of his career. Now and for the last 25 years most of the work of Hickey Law Firm has been to represent injured passengers in claims against the cruise lines. Hickey has been interviewed on TV by almost every major network and cable news outlet. Hickey publishes papers and gives talks to lawyers across the country on a regular basis. In 2023 alone, as of August, Hickey has spoken to national lawyer groups twice, has published a paper on cruise ship passenger claims, and will speak to lawyers across the country on an aspect of maritime claims in Federal Court in a webinar.

Third, get travel insurance. Make sure that the travel insurance that you buy covers not just the cost of cancellation of the trip, the airfare, hotel, and cruise, but also medical expenses for medical care when you are outside the country. One of the most important aspects of this care is the air ambulance to get you or your loved one back to civilization for medical care. Why? Because you may be at sea and probably will be in a remote location without first world medical care. The ship has an infirmary with a nurse and physician but the facilities and the capabilities are limited. For example, if you or someone in your party has a stroke, they will need a CT scan to determine what type of stroke (ischemic, a clotted vessel, or hemorrhagic, a burst blood vessel) before any medication is administered. Cruise ships do not have CT machines onboard. And with stroke or heart attack, time is of the essence. Every minute matters and every second counts. So an air ambulance may be critical. And air ambulances are expensive.

Fourth, take your medicines with you. The cruise ship infirmary is not outfitted to be a full blown and stocked pharmacy. They may not have and they may not want to sell or dispense to you any of the medications you are on.

Finally, prepare yourself and your family. If injured, get back ASAP. If you need significant or emergency medical care, plan to get back to the U.S. as quickly as possible. If you are physically able, get an air ambulance back to a medical facility in the U.S. This is where the trip insurance comes in. Most people want to stay on the cruise so as not to disappoint others. Don’t. Get off and get back.

Many people want to get all the way back home even though they should go to a medical facility in the port closest to the ship. Resist that temptation of going all the way home if getting back home to your city adds more precious time until you get real, quality medical care. Go to the closest high quality trauma center or other medical center.

Top things to do if injured on the cruise

  1. Stay calm. Get help from the infirmary and from your family.
  2. Take photos of the area. Better yet, have your travel companion take them. Take photos from floor level showing the water or condensation on the floor if it is a slip and fall. Take photos of the cameras in the area. Take photos of the signs which were in the general area but not where they should have been. You cannot rely on the cruise line to give you their photos. Usually, they are not required to give you their photos and usually they will not be required to give you the video of what happened until after you file a lawsuit and after the cruise line lawyer takes your deposition.
  3. Get the full names and all contact information (email address, cell phone, street address) of every other passenger who was in the area and saw the condition of the floor. It does not matter much that they did not see you fall or get injured. You can testify about your injuries. What matters is if they saw the condition of the floor before or immediately after you fell, or noticed the loose handrail, or saw something out of place.
  4. Get medical attention onboard right away. Tell the nurses and physicians onboard everything that hurts or was injured. They should write down everything. Make sure they do. If they leave anything out, the cruise line will say that you are making it up later on.  Then demand a copy of your records to take with you to the next facility and for your own records.
  5. When completing the Passenger Injury Statement, list everything that the cruise line did wrong. Think of what probably happened and list it. Think of all of the things the cruise line could have done to prevent this but did not. In a slip and fall for example, they could have inspected more, put signs in correct area, blocked off the wet area, posted a crewmember at the wet area until another crewmember came and dried up the area. Then take a photo of the statement before you hand it back to the onboard physician or safety officer.
  6. Don’t blame yourself. That is what they want. They even ask on the statement form, “What could you have done to prevent this?” Don’t fall for that. How about what the cruise line could have done to have prevented the incident? They are in the cruise business.
  7. Call a lawyer who specializes in claims against cruise lines. Don’t just call a lawyer who advertises or who says online that they handle these claims. This is a highly specialized area of the law. Read the lawyers’ website. Do they really specialize in Maritime Law? Do they really specialize in claims against cruise lines? Did the lawyer ever represent cruise lines? Is the lawyer Board Certified in Admiralty & Maritime Law by The Florida Bar? Does the lawyer regularly write articles on and lecture other lawyers on cruise ship law and issues? Is the lawyer’s main office located in Miami, Florida where most cruise passengers have to file suit and the birthplace of modern cruising? If any of the answers to those questions is no or is in doubt, don’t hire them. Call a specialist.

Maritime law is complicated. Not everyone practices in this area of law. We do. You will work with a Certified Specialist when you work with Hickey Law. And the consultation is free: you pay nothing – ever – unless we win your case. So you don’t have to worry about money. All you have to do is focus on getting well.

At Hickey Law Firm, we listen, we care, and we fight for you. When you suffer life-changing injuries, you need Hickey Law Firm. Call us or fill out our contact form. We help cruise ship injury victims all over the country. It doesn’t matter where you live. We want to help.