Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Discusses Accidents on Boats

As an experienced Tampa Persona Injury Attorney I am often asked about accidents that involve boats.

  • The first thing we like to do with boat accident cases is determine the type of boat on which the accident occurred
  • If the accident happened on a cruise ship there are usually terms on the back of the ticket that got you onto the ship that talk about provisions
  • You’re going to need to prove the negligence

I think the first thing that’s important is to characterize the type of boat on which the accident happened. There are things like cruise ship injuries. For example, you go out on a Carnival Cruise or Holland America Cruise and there’s an injury that’s suffered while you’re one of these commercial cruise lines. What’s important to know with respect to those type of claims is that as part of your ticket that you obtain before going on the ship, there will be certain provisions clearly set forth within your ticket, and these tickets are usually multi-page, and they cover many subjects. If you look through your ticket either before or after an injury, you’ll find out that these tickets provide that generally you have to give written notice of your injury usually within 180 days of the date of the injury setting forth specifically what happened and also your injuries and your treatment.

The other thing that’s important to know is that generally if your claim cannot be resolved amicably, that suit has to be filed in a particular location that is also set forth in the ticket. For example, on a Carnival Cruise line, suit has to be filed in Miami, usually in federal court. For Holland America as an example, suit has to be filed in Seattle in federal court. Even though you may be taking a cruise out of say Tampa, you leave and return to Tampa, your suit actually has to be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

The same rules apply to cruise ship slip and falls, if you will, or trip and falls, and that is you have to prove some negligence, some carelessness on the part of the cruise line. It’s very important when an accident does happen on a cruise ship that first of all, if it’s applicable, take photographs of what caused you to fall. Make a mental note. Get names of witnesses, both individual innocent bystanders who might also be passengers, get the names of any crew members that came to your assistance, that cleaned up anything. Make sure you get their names. As I said, you can even take photographs of these individuals. If you make out a report, try to get a copy of the report.

See an attorney very quickly after you return because you need to get the facts together, the individuals together, witnesses and things like that, and to put together the letter to send to the cruise line. In addition to that, you’ll need that attorney to be able to put together a complaint or associate with an attorney that practices in the particular venue where suit has to be filed so that you can meet that very short statute of limitations. Normally that statute of limitations, at least here in Florida, is four years, but on a cruise ship, the statute of limitations is one year. A lot of people think it’s just a standard slip and fall case and they will not file within the one-year-statute of limitations or they won’t give the 180-day written notice, and that will jeopardize and sometimes block you from filing a claim for a fall on a cruise ship.

With respect to an injury on a small pleasure boat, the first question one has to ask would be is this accident an accident that’s subject to maritime or admiralty jurisdiction? That’s going to first concern itself with whether or not that boat was on a navigable water, a water on which commercial transactions, traffic, interstate commerce can be conducted. If there’s for example a small lake, admiralty and maritime jurisdiction will likely not apply, and that case can be filed in the state court. However, if the accident happens on a navigable water, one capable of interstate commerce, then you’re going to have admiralty or maritime jurisdiction, and you’ll find yourself very likely in federal court.

Again, the same thing applies. You’re going to need to prove the negligence. Sometimes you can prove what’s called the unseaworthiness of the vessel, but you’re going to need to do the same thing. That’s take photographs, make notes, get witnesses’ information, get crew members’ information, get a copy of your report.

Those are some of things about injuries on boats or cruise lines that’s very important to remember, and most importantly, see an attorney promptly after you’ve received any emergency medical condition. Contact an attorney and provide him the information that you’ve obtained.

Have you been injured on a boat?  If so, contact experienced Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Dennis Morgenstern.

 

This educational legal video was brought to you Dennis Morgenstern, an experienced Tampa Personal Injury Attorney.