Cruise Ship Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Experienced representation for victims of onboard medical malpractice
Cruise lines are expected and required to provide medical care to passengers. This is due in part to the average age of cruise ship passengers being 50 and older and that most “cruisers” are U.S. citizens and expect medical care to be at the same standard as their country of origin. Cruise ships are isolated, limiting your medical care options to the only onboard medical personnel and infirmary.
However, under Maritime Law, a cruise ship is obligated to re-route its course in order to provide medical care to a sick or injured crew member or passenger if the ship is unable to provide the proper standard of care onboard. When a cruise line fails in this duty of care and you or a loved one suffer further injury or harm, talk to the medical malpractice attorneys at Hickey Law Firm. Founder John H. (Jack) Hickey is double board-certified by The Florida Bar in Civil Trial and Admiralty and Maritime law. Our decades of experience with cruise line injuries and accidents make us the right choice for your claim.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- Is medical malpractice common on cruise ships?
- What accidents on cruise ships typically require medical attention?
- What damages can I recover for my cruise ship medical malpractice case?
- How much time do I have to bring a claim against a cruise line?
- How can a cruise ship medical malpractice attorney help me?
Is medical malpractice common on cruise ships?
Cruise ships sail to countries and island nations with limited and sometimes substandard medical care. Advertising that a cruise ship has a competent medical facility, and then failing to provide the standard of care that patients expect is an egregious form of negligence and fraud. With rare exceptions, the majority of the medical staff is not licensed in the United States, and provided only with basic equipment.
When a passenger becomes sick or injured, a cruise ship’s medical staff is often not equipped to treat the patient's condition — either because of inadequate training or lack of the tools necessary to make a proper diagnosis. Despite advertising that the ship has a medical facility onboard, cruise lines often provide insufficient care and then deny responsibility for medical malpractice.
Some of the most common examples of onboard medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis of illness or injury
- Failure to treat life-threatening conditions including heart attack or stroke with urgency, leading to brain injury or damage, disability, even death
- Prescription for the wrong medication(s)
- Failing to refer the sick or injured passenger to seek treatment at a port with standard or first-class medical facilities
- Failure to provide appropriate follow-up instructions
Our injury attorneys can launch an investigation to determine how and why medical negligence occurred.
What accidents on cruise ships typically require medical attention?
Although you go on a cruise hoping you won’t need medical attention, if you do suffer serious injury, you may face many challenges when on-board services fail to treat you properly. Some of the most common ways passengers suffer injury on cruise ships include:
- Slip and falls. This is one of the most common injuries that can happen on a cruise ship, with large open areas, swimming pools, hot tubs, and dance areas, floors are often wet and slippery.
- Recreational accidents. From swimming to rock walls to spin class, there are dozens of activities taking place on a cruise ship at any given time. However, without proper safety protocol in place, you can end up needing medical attention.
- Food poisoning and allergies. One of the biggest selling points of cruises is their vast food options, some offering unlimited food and drink. It is the cruise line’s duty to ensure all food is prepared and served in a safe manner. Further, when a passenger has known food allergies, the cruise line has a duty to alert them to those allergens.
- Infections. Infections can spread easily among passengers. While there is no way to guarantee you won’t et a cold on a chip, more serious infections may require quarantine protocols. They also require immediate medical attention.
- Assaults. Cruise lines have a duty to protect their passengers from physical and sexual assault. In the event this occurs, you have the right to prompt medical care and the right to file criminal charges. Our attorneys can help with this as well.
These are only a few examples of why you may need to seek medical attention on a cruise. Passengers may also suffer sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, or other traumatic events where they need immediate, professional, and emergency care.
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What damages can I recover for my cruise ship medical malpractice case?
Injuries from medical malpractice are often life-altering. When a medical professional’s negligence causes you harm, you can seek damages for your:
- Lost wages, including the loss of your future earning potential. Many malpractice victims are unable to do the work they once did, if they can work at all. You can seek these damages in a lawsuit.
- Medical expenses, which are often the most substantial part of a claim, can include costs for hospital visits, emergency care, rehabilitation, medications, and more. If you need to be airlifted off the chip, we will seek compensation for that expense as well.
- Pain and suffering, including mental and physical trauma. Your chronic pain, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, and disability are compensable.
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How much time do I have to bring a claim against a cruise line?
Claims must be filed within certain time limits, known as the statute of limitations. For adults victims of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of the injury.
However, there are exceptions. If a minor child or adult who was found legally incompetent is sexually assaulted, or if the claim involves a wrongful death, then the statute of limitations may be up to three years. (46 USC Sec. 30508). Per the statute, if a minor child or adult who is legally “incompetent” is sexually assault, or the claim is for wrongful death, the time limit is extended up to three years.
Hickey Law Firm can help you file this claim. We know how important it is to file in the right time frame.
How can a cruise ship medical malpractice attorney help me?
If a passenger is seriously injured due to medical negligence on a cruise ship, an action against the cruise line is possible but a challenge under the current state of the law. There are very specific laws and regulations about where and how you can file a lawsuit against a cruise line. That is why a specialist in the area is not just a luxury but a necessity. Maritime cruise medical malpractice cases are among the most complicated in this area of law.
The best way to pursue your claim is to contact an attorney with intimate knowledge of cruise ship medical malpractice, such as our own John H. (Jack) Hickey. He’s been on both sides of these claims, having been an attorney for cruise lines and now working to protect and fight on behalf for injured victims of cruise line negligence.
Cruise ship owners are responsible for adequately vetting their medical staff, and the line between employee and independent contractor is further blurred when a cruise ship makes medical personnel wear the same uniform as employees and officers. Many cruise ships also require yearly training and receive revenue from the medical center. When cruise lines list their physicians as independent contractors, you may be able to pursue a claim based on negligent hiring and retention, as Maritime Law requires cruise lines hire medical staff who are qualified and competent in providing the accepted standard of care.
The legal team at Hickey Law Firm can help sort out all relevant issues in this complex area of law to determine all negligent and liable parties in your case.
Talk to our skilled Miami cruise ship medical malpractice attorneys today
The cruise ship injury attorneys at Hickey Law Firm are here to protect you when you suffer harm from onboard medical malpractice. Because Florida is known as the cruise ship capital of the country, our Miami-based law firm has the experience and the resources you need when going up against these powerful companies. We understand this complex area of law and we understand the tactics cruise ship lines employ when trying to avoid liability. Let us help.