Going on a cruise can be an exciting adventure, whether you are going for the first time or the tenth. However, this excitement can quickly turn into fear, frustration, and confusion if you or a loved one gets injured on the ship. You may never have planned on what to do if you get injured on the ship. The first thing to do is to find an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer who can guide you and explain your legal rights. Then, you must gather as much evidence as possible and also decide whether you want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the cruise line or not. If you do decide to file a lawsuit, listed below are some of the things you must do:
Report the Accident and Injury
Cruise ships usually operate under the International Maritime Organization rules. Every cruise ship must develop safety management systems that include accident investigations and reporting. They should have a proper procedure in place that can be followed in case a passenger is injured. If you get injured on a cruise ship, you may have to go to the medical office. You can fill out the accident report there to trigger an investigation automatically. If you cannot go to the medical office, you must go to the Purser’s desk and report the accident.
Understand Your Rights, Especially if You Have Signed an Assumption of Risk Form
Cruise ships have a wide range of activities to make the entire experience entertaining and adventurous for guests. These activities can include waterslides, ziplines, ice skating, or wall climbing. Like many adventurous activities, these activities can also lead to injuries. That is why cruise ships will ask passengers to sign an “Assumption of Risk” form. This form releases them from any liability in case of an injury. If you have already signed such a form, and get injured, then an experienced maritime injury attorney can determine how much of an impact the form will have on your injury claim.
Get Treated for Your Injuries
Typically, cruise ships have one doctor and a few nurses on board. They also have limited pharmaceuticals to treat minor conditions. Some major cruise ships may have medical centers that provide in-patient care for people who get seriously injured or ill and may require constant medical attention. So, when you get injured, ensure you visit the doctor on board and get yourself treated.
Be Careful of Who You Speak To and What You Say
It is not just the cruise line that will contribute to the accident report. The employees on the ship will also investigate the accident, including the medical staff. Avoid statements like “It was my own fault” or “It is nothing serious”. These statements can be used against you in case you decide to take action against the cruise line.
Be Careful What You Submit in Writing
Most cruise companies ask guests who are injured on the ship to provide a written statement. They may even ask you to make the statement in your handwriting for their records. You can refuse to provide the statement if you are in pain or not feeling well. Don’t let your travel companion make the statement for you, even if they witnessed your accident. If the cruise line keeps insisting, provide a brief statement. Describe how you are feeling and why you believe the cruise line is responsible for your injuries.
Be Involved in the Investigation
Cruise line employees will think of their protection along with yours when investigating your accident. They begin with the assumption that you may sue them for your injuries. They will try to gather as much evidence as possible to use in their defense. Keep this fact in mind when you provide statements. Ensure they don’t misrepresent your statements and make it look like they were not responsible for your injuries.
Conduct Your Own Investigation
Cruise ships have thousands of passengers, and most areas have people at any given point in time. If you were in your cabin during the accident, then you may not have witnesses. But, if you got injured in one of the common areas, then one of the passengers could have seen the accident. Note down the names and contact numbers of anyone who could be witnesses to what happened to you. Even though crew members may hesitate to help, collect their information as well. Take photos of your injuries and the accident site. You must gather as much information as possible during the remainder of the cruise. You won’t be able to collect evidence once you leave the ship, and this can affect your case in the future.
Don’t Wait to Report Incidents, Assaults, or Accidents
Report any sort of accident, assault, or incident immediately. All types of crimes can occur on a cruise ship. Don’t ignore any incident. Speak to the crew and insist they follow the standard procedures to investigate the incident. Ensure you report, document, and investigate the accident. Don’t assume that the cruise ship’s crew will report your accident to the authorities. If you got injured when in port, then report the accident to the local authorities. Reach out to the FBI and the local police department. If you don’t report your accident, it can lead to jurisdictional issues and negatively impact your case.
Speak to a Maritime Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, irrespective of the cause and severity of your injury, speak to a maritime personal injury lawyer. Lawyers like Aronfeld Trial Lawyers will listen to your case carefully, go through all the evidence, and do their best to get you the best possible outcome.
Maritime law is extremely complex. Your case can quickly turn around without the right guidance. Never assume anything about the case based on your personal analysis. Speaking to an experienced attorney can be beneficial for you. You can get your case reviewed, understand your legal rights, and work with the attorney to get the best possible outcome.