While on a cruise ship shore excursion sold by Celebrity Cruises, Inc., a passenger fractured his pelvis and right elbow when the Segway vehicle he was operating collided with a picnic bench or stool that was fixed or nailed to the ground on the boardwalk at Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Caribbean Segway Tours operated this tour. The tour operator had a prior history of negligence in selection of the location of a Segway tour as well as in the operation of a substantially similar tour.
A little more than a year after the horrific Costa Concordia disaster, which took the lives of over 30 people, Costa is yet again in the news with another calamity. On January 17, 2013, a crewmember died in an apparent fall inside a ventilation shaft aboard the Costa Serena. Although not as extensive as the Costa Concordia disaster, anytime an incident aboard these cruise vessels involves the death of a passenger or crewmember it is equally as tragic.
Many people have seen the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) Kevin Sheehan on the 20/20 program talking about how much alcohol a cruise line has to sell on each voyage in order to make a profit. Alcohol sales are an important part of a cruise line's bottom line. But what is the responsibility of the cruise line to an intoxicated passenger who is overserved alcohol on a cruise?
The wreck of the Costa Concordia brings into sharp focus the inherent unsafe practices of modern cruise ship companies. It may shock some to learn that a mega-liner like the Costa Concordia or any of the ships operated by NCL, RCCL, Celebrity, Carnival, MSC, SilverSea and so forth have very few actual sailors on board. Lifeboats are captained by employees with other jobs on the ship, such as waiters or assistant engineers.
The very recent wreck of the Costa Concordia tragically demonstrates the risk that passengers take when boarding one of the mega-liners so popular today. Because U.S. laws are so favorable to large corporations like cruise lines, many safety laws and regulations simply do not apply to the cruise lines and those that do cannot be enforced, except in certain limited circumstances.
Some of my prospective clients are fearful of going forward with their cases against NCL, RCCL, Celebrity or Carnival because they are afraid of taking on such a big, multi-billion dollar corporation with their "teams" of lawyers and unlimited war chests. There are several reasons why these fears are unfounded and should never prevent anyone from going ahead with a lawsuit.
The ticket passengers purchase contains many important provisions which are binding on passengers. The ticket is a maritime contract and the admiralty courts will not hesitate to enforce its provisions in regard to claims brought by passengers against the cruise line. The ticket contract contains numerous provisions which may be materially different from laws that are familiar to passengers or their non-maritime lawyers at home. Failing to familiarize oneself with these provisions can lead to a loss of important rights.
Over the years, my firm has handled numerous cases of passengers being injured while taking a shower or leaving the shower. People should not have to stand on a moving, wet platform while showering. Usually, showers do not have adequate hand holds for persons who are showering. Add to this is the further problem of the age of the cruising public. Many passengers are elderly, who may have balance problems to begin with, from the various maladies that beset folks in old age. The safety of these elderly passengers require consideration by the cruise lines.
When you have a legal problem, an experienced lawyer can be of great assistance and look out for your rights. Florida's legal system can be confusing and intimidating, with a unique set of rules and a language of its own. An attorney who understands the law and the process can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.