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Accidents during a Cruise Ship Holiday Tour: The Issue of Jurisdiction

Posted on Apr 20, 2017 by in Cruise Ship | 0 comments

Accidents during a Cruise Ship Holiday Tour: The Issue of Jurisdiction

Shore excursions and other inland itineraries have become additional sources of fun for cruise ship passengers and another major money-making activity for cruise lines that in almost every port of call these are offered. Some of the most common activities held during shore excursions are archaeological explorations, cultural tours, dining on land, shopping, island visits, scuba diving, parasailing, jet skiing, and ziplining.

Anyone who has been on a cruise vacation would be familiar with the different shore excursions offered by cruise lines and, no matter what ship it is, the advertisements regarding shore activities are the same: shore excursions are safe and totally fun.

Totally fun these may be, but only if no untoward incidents occur, such as a passenger falling into the water while transferring from the cruise ship to a tender boat (a smaller vessel which will take them to land), an accident on the tender boat or on land that will injure a passenger, a passenger getting robbed or sexually harassed by the locals, and so forth. It is sad to say, but in some of these land activities, a few passengers have had unfortunate experiences. These are those who have sustained serious injuries even while on the tender boat still, while a few others suffered emotional and/or physical trauma after being abused or attacked by those on land.

The personal injury or tort law allows individuals, who suffer injuries due to the negligence or recklessness of another to file a civil lawsuit in order to claim compensatory damages. However, filing a personal injury claim due to an accident while on a cruise ship holiday tour (this includes shore excursions) is not as simple as filing for the same claim due an accident that occurs on land.

This is because, unlike a car accident lawsuit, a medical malpractice lawsuit or a premises or product liability lawsuit, which an injured victim can file in the state where the accident occurred, the maritime law, which enforces legal concerns affecting the cruise industry, contains unique issues such as jurisdiction, which means the specific court where a lawsuit involving injuries sustained while on a trip may be filed and the time frame within which such lawsuit may be filed (many major cruise lines are usually tried only in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida).

To avoid legal issues, many shore excursion contracts contain clauses that limit or waive an excursion operator’s or cruise line’s liability. The Vucci Law Group, P.A. points out, however, that, regardless of what these clauses say, these can never hinder an injured victim to file a civil lawsuit for the hope of claiming monetary compensation for whatever damages his/her injury may result to. But for better chances of being deemed worthy by the court to receive compensation, it may be advantageous for a victim if he/she were represented by a highly-qualified and experienced maritime lawyer who is familiar with cruise lines’ court tactics and who will be prepared with a strong argument that will uphold the rights and interests of the injured.

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