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Cruise ship lawsuits are on the rise across the nation

Many New York residents enjoy taking cruises, though there is always the risk of illness or injury while on the ship. In some cases, cruisers have reported receiving substandard care from cruise ship medical staff. Maritime courts have traditionally held that the medical staff is an independent contractor with no direct connection to the cruise line. However, this is no longer the case in maritime court precedent, and it could well be the basis for the increase in the number of lawsuits being filed around the nation.

Understanding maritime law

Maritime law is different from common law in many respects, including in personal injury claims. One aspect is that sea vessels fall under Jones Act governance, but the law that was passed in 1920 only directly applies to merchant marines and commercial vessels carrying freight. This situation was updated by the Passenger Vessel Security Act allowing cruise ship passengers to sue if the injury occurs while the ship is within jurisdictional waters and flying a U.S. flag. This assuredly complicates cases regarding cruise ship injuries to passengers.

Case in point

There is one current example of how the new precedent applies to liability for substandard health care. The Miami area case is now in court where an elderly man went into a coma due to medical inattention and was hospitalized, but the company refused to allow his family to leave until paying their entire bill. This sequence resulted in a maritime injury claim.

While this is just one example of how standing to sue can be awarded in cruise ship injury cases, there are still multiple restrictions for injured passengers. Just as with many other personal injury claims, the defense has significant leverage when denying or negotiating a claim.