Cruise ships are not immune to the same accidents and injuries that can occur in other vehicles — and, really, in any place around the world. People can slip and fall on a staircase, just as they can slip and fall on a cruise ship. People can get injured in a car crash, just as they can get injured if their cruise ship crashes. The operator of a boat or a car could act negligently, just as the captain of a cruise ship could act in a dangerous or negligent manner.
How do these situations get resolved? With the help of maritime law, which governs incidents that happen at sea. One of the pillars of maritime law is that cruise ship operators must exercise reasonable care to ensure that their passengers are safe. If they fail to do this, they can be held liable for their negligence.
If a cruise ship accident affects you, the exact location of the ship when the accident happened doesn’t necessarily matter for jurisdiction purposes. Instead, you should look at the back of your ticket where you will see which state holds jurisdiction over the cruise ship should an accident or injuries occur.
Speaking of the ticket, it is a legal contract. Most people don’t know that, and understandably so. You wouldn’t think that the fine print on the back of any ticket somehow obliges you to contractual responsibility. But it does, and in the case of cruise ship accidents, the back of your ticket could hold some crucial information.Many tickets require written notice of an injury claim within 6 months, and nearly all cruise lines require suit to be filed in the court they designate within 1 year. Many states have 2-4 years within which to file suit. If you wait more than 1 year, you will be out of luck.
Source: FindLaw, “Cruise Ship Accidents and Liability,” Accessed Nov. 7, 2017