As we discussed in Part I, here are some new issues in cruise ship accidents:
I. Statue of Limitations
It is imperative that the injured person contact an attorney immediately because there are very short time deadlines, such as
- A one year statute of limitations to file suit; and
- A six month deadline to file a notice of claim with the ship line.
The foregoing provisions are contained within the cruise ticket, and it should be saved for review by the attorney.
II. Forum Selection
The cruise ticket contains a forum selection clause which means that a lawsuit must be brought in a particular jurisdiction. For example, most cruise tickets require that suit be brought in the courts where the cruise line maintains its headquarters.
III. Liability for shipboard Medical Care
All passenger ships have a medical office staffed by a doctor or nurse or both. Generally, the cruise line contracts with a separate company which runs the ship’s “hospital” for a profit. In those instances cruise lines have denied responsibility for medical malpractice on the ground that the negligence was committed by an independent contractor.
Courts have held the shipowner liable under a number of theories, such as negligent hiring and retention of the medical vendor, apparent agency, and joint venture.
IV. Shore Excursions
Typically, shore excursions are conducted by outside vendors, such as tour companies located at the localities visited. Although the shore tours are marketed by the cruise line, generally, the ship will deny liability on the ground that the tour company is an independent contractor and would be solely liable for negligence.
There have been cases where the shipowner has been found liable for the negligent hiring, screening, and retention of the tour operator.
As we have oft-repeated, if you are injured in a cruise accident, please contact a lawyer immediately. Please feel free to call us at 800-581-1434 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.
Mark E. Seitelman, 12/27/11, www.seitelman.com.