While many of you may not remember the classic television show “The Love Boat,” it made cruises a popular form of travel for Americans. In fact, more than nine million passengers, including many of our West Georgia neighbors, travel on pleasure cruises departing North American ports each year.

While this number continues to increase significantly every year, the safety for passengers aboard these ships has not kept up. Claims of injuries, assaults by crew members and violent illnesses have become increasingly commonplace.

Due to the enormous publicity surrounding a string of disappearances aboard cruise ships, the cruise line industry has come under heightened scrutiny.

Cruise ships are not merely boats, they are virtual floating cities. However, they operate under different law than the cities will live in back home. Their antiquated laws and contractual language oftentimes limits rights and remedies and can put travelers in a precarious position.

A judge recently stated, the lesson to be learned from over a 100 years of non-evolving case law is this: “Don’t have an accident, don’t get sick, and hope for an uneventful cruise vacation, otherwise you will discover that your rights and remedies as an aggrieved consumer are governed by antiquated legal principles which favor cruise lines to the detriment of cruise passengers.”

Several American courts, realizing the impracticality and injustice resulting from the current state of affairs, have handed down landmark decisions regarding the accountability of cruise ship corporations to their passengers. Making the ability to recover from the negligence involving cruise ships a little more probably than in the past.

Statute of Limitations
Being a practicing GA attorney for 25 years, one of the procedural pitfalls that cause the greatest concern is the statute of limitations. Generally, statutes of limitation provide a reasonable amount of time to investigate a matter and file a claim. For instance, in personal injury cases in Florida, there is a four-year statute of limitations. Medical malpractice and wrongful death are only two years.

For injuries occurring due to negligence associated with a cruise line; however, the contractual provisions typically call for a much more limited time-frame. For injuries or deaths stemming from negligence associated with a cruise ship, typically provides that a passenger must provide notice of a claim to the cruise line within six months and commence a lawsuit within one year. A passenger’s contract with the cruise line is typically contained in the ticket package

What state can I request help in my time of need?
Provisions, contained in the ticket package, dictate where a lawsuit may be filed against the cruise line. It does not matter where the passenger is from or where the cruise departed. Currently, cruise lines have typically limited the location where claims may be brought to a handful of cities where larger ports are located, such as Miami, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

If you need help discovering ways to pursue action against a cruise line, please contact Miller & Wynn. Our locally-based attorneys have decades of experience. We’re excited to announce we’ve established a new partnership with civil litigation attorney Patricia Roy. Please contact Mike Miller or Christopher L. Wynn for a free consultation at 770-942-2720 or visit www.MillerWynnLaw.com.