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Cruise Ship Accidents and Injuries
Passengers departing from cruise ship docked at a port
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Modern cruise ships are almost like floating cities, carrying upwards of 3,000 passengers, plus crew. Most of them feature dining facilities, dance clubs, swimming pools, bars, and fitness centers, while others have amenities like go-kart tracks, ropes courses, and skydiving. All of this requires a tremendous amount of upkeep and is provided to guests on a platform that is constantly moving. As a result, cruise ships can present a number of hazards for both passengers and employees. 

Unfortunately, pursuing a claim against the cruise line can be quite difficult if you have been injured. Just like any corporate entity, cruise lines have legal departments and outside lawyers who work to defend them against claims. As a result, cruise lines typically deny responsibility for claims or attempt to pay as little as possible. You need an attorney to help you navigate the claim process and get the compensation you need to pay your medical bills and other losses. 

Common Accidents That Can Occur on a Cruise 

With so many people and so many amenities, almost anything can go wrong while onboard a cruise ship. While many of these accidents result in only minor inconveniences, some can result in serious injuries that can require surgery and hospitalization. Some of the most common accidents that can occur on cruise ships that result in injury are as follows: 

Cruise lines have a legal duty to ensure that the ship is safe for passengers and others. Failure to address known hazards, make timely repairs, or conduct routine safety inspections can trigger liability in the event of an accident. Here are some examples of hazardous conditions that can easily lead to a slip and fall accident on a cruise ship: 

  • Loose or missing handrails
  • Torn or wrinkled carpeting
  • Broken flooring
  • Poor lighting
  • Tripping hazards
  • Wet or slippery floors

These conditions can be especially dangerous on a ship that is moving while at sea. Missing or loose handrails, for example, can result in serious injury. 


Most people worry about falling overboard and drowning in the ocean. While this may happen on occasion, onboard swimming pools and hot tubs present a more immediate hazard, particularly for children. Even if the victim is rescued before death, the accident can result in severe brain damage and other injuries


With everyone living in such close proximity, illnesses can spread rapidly throughout the passengers on a cruise ship and can result in serious, life-threatening illnesses and other complications. These illnesses can be especially dangerous for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. 

In addition to communicable diseases, food-borne illnesses are also a risk on cruise ships. Failure to follow food-safety guidelines can result in food poisoning and other illnesses that can be very serious.

Medical Malpractice

If you become ill while onboard the ship, your only option for treatment is the ship’s infirmary. While you may not expect the same level of care as you would receive in a hospital, you are entitled to receive adequate medical treatment. Unfortunately, medical treatment on cruise ships is often negligent in the following ways: 

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Refusal to provide treatment
  • Failure to monitor patients
  • Failure to provide proper medical care resulting in infection or other complications

The Challenges of Cruise Ship Accident Cases

Cruise ship accidents typically happen while the ship is at sea, which means that your case may not be subject to United States law as it would in other injury cases. Instead, many of these issues are governed by maritime law, which is a unique area of the law. To successfully make a claim, you will need to work with a cruise ship accident attorney who has experience in navigating the complex legal issues that apply to your case. 

In addition, most cruises limit the period of time that you may bring a claim against them for your injuries. This is often limited to one year. Furthermore, they may limit the jurisdiction in which you can pursue your claim. Many cruise lines that operate in the United States require that all claims be brought in Miami, Florida. 

If you have been injured while on a cruise, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and other losses. To successfully pursue your claim, you need an experienced cruise ship accident attorney who understands how the law will apply to your case and how to navigate the challenges inherent in these types of claims. 

Steps You Should Take if You Are Injured While on a Cruise

If you were injured in an accident while onboard a cruise ship, the first thing you should do is report your accident and injuries to the crew. Then you should seek medical treatment from the onboard medical staff. From there, you should take the following steps: 

  • Document the scene of the accidents with photographs from multiple angles.
  • Keep extensive notes concerning the date, time, and location of your accident, the nature and extent of your injuries, and any other pertinent details such as any crew members you spoke to.  
  • Request a copy of the accident report that was prepared by the ship’s crew

Contact a Cruise Ship Accident Attorney Today 

Once you have returned from your cruise, you should see your doctor for a thorough medical exam. If you have suffered a serious injury, you should then consider contacting an experienced cruise ship accident attorney who can review your case, determine whether you have a claim, and explain your options. Call Martin & Jones for a free, no obligation consultation at 800-662-1234.

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The law firm you choose makes a difference. If you are the victim of an accident or an illness that someone else caused, the North Carolina personal injury law firm of Martin & Jones has the depth of experience, skills and sensitivity to make your road to recovery as smooth as possible. Whether you have experience with the legal system or have never hired a medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer before, our attorneys and staff will do our best to answer your questions, provide clear advice and prepare you and your family for what to expect. If you would like more information or to meet with one of our attorneys, please fill out the form below or call us at 800.662.1234.