The Ultimate Guide to Cruise Ship Injury Cases

Since you found our site, we assume that you were injured on a cruise ship. Maybe you’re considering contacting a cruise ship accident lawyer about a possible personal injury claim.

If so, here are a few things you should know about us:

If we sound like a good fit for your case, let’s talk.

If you’re not ready to talk to us yet, we understand. Keep reading for more information about cruise ship accidents and injuries, and then let us know if you have questions.

In this guide to cruise ship injuries, we’ll give you information on these topics:

  • Common Dangers on a Cruise Ship
  • Types of Cruise Ship Injury Claims
  • What to Do After a Cruise Ship Injury
  • Proving Fault (Liability) for a Cruise Ship Injury
  • What Laws Apply to Cruise Ship Injuries?
  • Limitations on Suing Cruise Lines
  • Types of Compensation Available in Cruise Ship Injury Cases

After you’ve read all about cruise ship injuries, you can decide if you’d like to proceed with a case.

We’re willing to give you an honest legal opinion on your options when you contact our cruise ship accident lawyer for a free consultation.

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Common Dangers on a Cruise Ship

Many people envision cruise ships as floating paradises of fun and relaxation.

Sometimes that’s true.

Other times, cruise ships can turn into nightmares for unsuspecting guests due to unsafe conditions.

Common dangers on cruise ships include these problems:

  • Mechanical malfunction of the ship,
  • Safety issues due to improper ship maintenance,
  • Improperly trained crew members,
  • Incompetent medical professionals,
  • Intoxicated passengers who pose a safety threat,
  • Lack of security personnel,
  • Lack of warnings on dangerous ship amenities,
  • Contaminated food,
  • Navigational errors due to the crew’s mistake, and
  • Dangerous ports of call or shore excursions

When a cruise ship presents unsafe conditions that cause passengers harm, the ship’s owners must take responsibility for passenger injuries.

Passengers may receive compensation for the harm they suffered while aboard a ship.

Cruise ship passengers who have been injured on a cruise should contact an experienced cruise ship attorney for legal advice. 

Types of Cruise Ship Injury Claims

Passengers may experience wide-ranging injuries on cruise ships due to unsafe conditions. Here are some common cruise ship injury claims.

Food poisoning and Norovirus

While the elaborate buffets set out by cruise ships offer indulgence, these foods can also become contaminated.

If norovirus, E. coli, or salmonella invades a cruise ship buffet, it can impact the entire ship.

From 2008 to 2010, over 100,000 people were affected by acute gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships.

With norovirus, if one passenger is infected from food, that passenger can infect many others through contact. The spread of norovirus can debilitate a ship and send passengers to the hospital.

Mechanical Problems

A cruise ship is a high-tech model of transportation plus a floating hotel all in one.

Such huge functional ambitions mean that the ship maintains a delicate mechanical balancing act.

Of course, mechanical problems sometimes cause cruise ship accidents and delays. Passengers may be stranded for days at sea, encountering improper sanitation and lack of electricity.

A cruise ship may not compensate passengers adequately for the inconvenience and challenge of being stranded at sea.

Cruise ship owners have a responsibility to maintain the ship mechanics to provide smooth travel.

If the ship fails to function properly due to mechanical problems, cruise ship owners should compensate passengers.

Slip and Fall Hazards

Even though a cruise ship is usually somewhat stable, it can still be difficult to walk around a moving boat.

When cruise ships present slip and fall hazards, passengers may be injured.

Since boats endure constant exposure to the elements of the sea, such as saltwater, corrosion of ship surfaces results, this can lead to dangers on deck.

Other slip and fall hazards include inadequate dim lighting, slippery walkways from sea spray or drink spills, and loose floorboards.

Cruise ships have a responsibility to protect passengers from slippery or dangerous walkways.

A cruise ship lawyer can make the ship pay if you’ve suffered an injury due to a slip and fall.


Though taking a cruise should be a relaxing experience, not all passengers have laid back personalities.

Due to alcohol intoxication or violent personalities, some passengers may assault other passengers.

Sexual assault, including rape, is the most common crime on cruise ships. Nearly 100 passengers were sexually assaulted on cruise ships in 2018.

No passenger should suffer an assault on a vacation.

A cruise ship should provide adequate lighting and security to prevent passenger assaults.

When a cruise ship fails to provide safety measures to prevent crime, a cruise ship accident lawyer can help.

Medical Malpractice

When a cruise ship embarks out to sea, it should carry medical personnel to care for injured or sick passengers. Many cruise ships have urgent care centers on board to treat common illnesses affecting passengers.

However, these medical professionals may not provide adequate care.

Recently, a law was reversed that granted cruise ship medical workers immunity.

Now, a cruise ship injury lawyer can sue cruise ships that employ negligent medical professionals.

Dangerous Ports and Shore Excursions

A cruise often offers passengers the opportunity to debark into exotic tropical locations for exciting shore excursions.

The cruise ship has a duty to warn passengers of known dangers in these shore excursions.

Ship employees might fail to inform passengers of known dangers, such as robbery, assault, or risky excursions. If passengers are injured onshore, the cruise ship could be liable.


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What to Do After a Cruise Ship Injury

You may feel particularly vulnerable if you’re injured on a cruise ship. After all, you may be thousands of miles from home with no easy way to seek emergency medical care. If you’re injured on a cruise ship, take steps to hold the ship’s owners responsible.

Get Medical Help

Of course, if you suffer a serious injury, your first priority should be to get medical help. If you are in a state of mind to note witness names and contact numbers or take photos, do so.

However, if your injuries require immediate attention, seek medical help first.

Make sure to keep copies of all medical records related to your injury.

Report Your Injury

Immediately report your injury to shipping personnel by filing an accident report.

This report will serve as a record of your injury and notify the ship crew about the unsafe condition.

By reporting your injury, you could save others from suffering similar harm. Be sure to complete all required paperwork and make sure that crew members transfer injury forms to their supervisor.

Taking these steps helps document the conditions surrounding your personal injury claim.

Document Accident Conditions

Compile evidence that you can use against the negligent cruise ship.

This means obtaining names and numbers of witnesses to the accident, taking photos of the scene, and filing accident paperwork.

Documentation of your injuries also includes all medical paperwork or purchases (such as medicine or crutches) related to your injury.

Hire a Cruise Ship Lawyer

Cruise ships, owned by huge corporations, are backed by powerful corporate lawyers.

You need someone on your side who will explain maritime law to you and advocate for your rights.

A cruise ship attorney can help you in this intimidating process.

The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against a cruise ship is often six months. This means that you have to act fast when filing a lawsuit against a cruise ship. A cruise ship accident lawyer can help you complete the required paperwork and get your lawsuit filed on time.

Proving Fault (Liability) for a Cruise Ship Injury

If you sue a cruise ship for an injury sustained on board, you have to prove the cruise ship was negligent. This means that the cruise ship’s action or inaction was responsible for your injury. You have to show the following elements of negligence for a successful personal injury case:

  • The cruise ship owed you a duty of care,
  • The cruise owners or employees failed to act with reasonable care,
  • You suffered harm on the cruise ship, and
  • The cruise ship’s lack of care caused you to suffer harm

Cruise ships have a duty to provide a safe environment for guests, and harm onboard usually comes through unintentional negligence. For instance, a cruise ship pool might be too shallow for diving. However, the cruise ship may fail to put up a sign warning guest not to dive. If a guest sustains a neck injury while diving in the unmarked shallow pool, the cruise ship may be considered negligent.

However, a cruise line is not always negligent when you suffer harm. If a worker is a contractor, not an employee, the cruise line might not be responsible for the worker’s actions. Similarly, the cruise line may not be liable for harm suffered on shore excursions. The limitations on cruise ship liability spelled out in the contract you signed may impact a finding of negligence. Look on your cruise contract for the following details:

  • What is the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim?
  • Did you sign any disclaimers that absolve the cruise ship of liability?
  • Are you obligated to alert the cruise line if you get injured or plan to sue?

Even if you signed a waiver freeing the cruise ship from liability, a knowledgeable cruise ship accident lawyer may be able to help. Determining negligence varies by case, so it’s important to consult an experienced cruise ship attorney.

What Laws Apply to Cruise Ship Injuries?

Laws governing cruise ship cases seem complex because injuries often occur on international waters or when the ship is docked in foreign nations. However, cruise ships owe their guests safe transportation.

An injured passenger may sue many different entities associated with a cruise ship. For instance, a passenger may sue the shipowner, the charter company, the operating company, or the ticket sales company. Each of these entities might fall under different legal authorities.

Cruise ships may be registered under the flag of a foreign nation. That nation imposes safety inspection requirements on the ship.

Laws that Apply to Ships in US Ports

In addition to national laws where a ship is registered, passengers may be able to sue under US law. If a cruise departs from a US port, state law, US federal law, and international treaties may apply. Here are other laws that may apply to ships departing from a US port.

  • If a ship is outside the jurisdiction of any country, a US national may be able to sue under 18 U.S. Code Section 7 maritime law.
  • Florida gives law enforcement maritime jurisdiction when the victim of a cruise ship injury is a Florida resident.
  • Ships from United States ports must meet regulations of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). This international regulation governs crew requirements, fire safety, lifesaving safety equipment, navigation safety, and environmental protections.
  • Ships registered in the US must comply with Coast Guard regulations for licensed crew members.
  • Cruise ship employees may sue their employer for personal injury under the Jones Act.
  • Cruise ships departing from US ports are considered common carriers under the Shipping Act of 1984. Common carriers owe passengers a duty of care that includes protecting passengers from harm and transporting passengers safely.

A ship’s duty of care includes the duty to search for a missing person. Upon receiving a report of a missing person, the ship must make a reasonable effort to search and rescue. If a search does not find the missing person, the ship must return to the location where the person was last seen.

Limitations on Suing Cruise Lines

An injured passenger must abide by the legal terms on the cruise ship contract. The cruise ship ticket may contain a forum selection clause, which indicates in which court a passenger must file suit. Find this forum selection clause on the back of your cruise ship ticket.

The ticket also may specify the passenger’s duty to inform the cruise ship of an injury within a limited timeframe. Maritime law usually imposes a statute of limitations of three years for personal injury cases. However, the cruise ship may define a shorter statute of limitations on the contract printed on the cruise ticket.

If you’ve lost your cruise ticket, an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer can help you find the details you need.

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Types of Compensation Available in Cruise Ship

Injury Cases

Passengers injured due to cruise ships’ negligence should receive payment for the harm they suffered. This compensation comes in the form of economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages include medical costs and lost wages. For passengers injured on cruise ships, additional costs, such as emergency medical travel, might apply. Any concretely calculated expenses related to your injury fall in this category.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more abstract to calculate. These emotional damages resulting from your injury include things like pain and suffering and loss of companionship. For instance, if you developed a fear of heights due to a fall on a cruise ship, this might be a non-economic damage.

Jones Act Maintenance and Cure

Injured cruise ship employees may be able to sue their employer under the Jones Act. This law specifies that injured employees are entitled to maintenance and cure, or living expenses and medical care. The employer must provide maintenance and cure until the employee ceases medical treatment or returns to work.

Consult a Maritime Lawyer About Your Cruise Ship Injury

If you suffered an injury on a cruise ship, you need legal advice. Our experienced cruise ship accident lawyer will face off with the biggest cruise companies to fight for you.

We’ll help you identify the cruise ship’s negligence and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case and explain the law that applies to your injury.

If we take your case, you’ll owe us nothing until we win. We’ll fight to get you a maximum settlement or jury award. If you’re ready to make a cruise line pay for its harm to you, call our cruise ship attorneys today.