Filing a coronavirus lawsuit against a cruise line can be tricky. The cruise lines usually try to protect themselves with a contract that entails liability waivers and strict timelines for any lawsuits. Sometimes, the contract can require you to file a notice of claim within 6 months, and then a lawsuit within a year. These contracts, usually the small print on your ticket, also stipulate where a passenger can sue a cruise line.
Notwithstanding the attempts of cruise lines to limit liability with these contracts, cruise companies are also subject to liability laws, especially if they touch on U.S. ports. Also, the clauses in cruise ship contracts are not always upheld in U.S. courts. Although cruise lines may try to make it difficult for claimants to get justice, if you can prove that negligence of the company or employees led to your injuries, or the death of a loved one, then you may have a case and could receive compensation.
Laws Governing Cruise Ships
Cruise ships, particularly if the incident relating to the lawsuit happened offshore and in international waters, can be bound by international maritime laws rather than U.S. laws. Maritime laws typically protect the owners of the ship rather than the passengers. This can make suing cruise lines somewhat complicated for plaintiffs and can be different from a “normal” land-based personal injury or wrongful death case.
However, there are legal provisions for personal injury and wrongful death at sea, so for example, the Death On The High Seas Act (DOHSA) 46 U.S. Code CHAPTER 303, passed in 1920. This act gives families of those deceased at sea, whether crew or passengers, the right to file suit for compensation even if an accident or incident happened in international waters. A DOHSA claim can lead to plaintiffs receiving compensation for:
- Funeral costs
- Medical costs
- Loss of financial support and benefits
There may be other compensation available to plaintiffs under DOHSA. However, families may be unable to recover any compensation for emotional suffering of the survivors. In other words, compensation under DOHSA is generally tied to monetary benefits such as loss of earnings and reimbursement of medical bills.
In order to have any chance to obtain compensation, you will have to prove that a cruise line’s negligence caused your injuries or the death of your loved one. In the case of coronavirus, the most likely arguments supporting negligence could revolve around failure to keep passengers safe from the virus, failure to administer appropriate medical care, and negligent training of the ship’s personnel regarding coronavirus prevention.
Under 46 U.S. Code § 30905, civil action generally must begin within two years of the cause of action.
Where to File a Coronavirus Lawsuit
While you are considering how you could file a coronavirus lawsuit, bear in mind that cruise lines also try to stipulate where you have to file suit. Typically, the contract you sign when you go on a cruise vacation will name the city in which you have to file a lawsuit. Generally, this is where the company is headquartered. In the case of some major cruise lines impacted by coronavirus, such as Carnival Corporation which owns Princess Cruise Lines, Carnival, Holland America, and others, you will most likely need to file suit in Miami, Florida.
However, if your particular cruise did not touch a U.S. port, for example with a voyage in the Mediterranean, in the worst-case scenario you might have to file suit overseas, depending on what the cruise contract states for your voyage.
Filing suit against a cruise line can be complicated and lengthy, with the cruise lines trying their utmost to protect themselves. If you have suffered considerable health effects or a death in the family from a cruise ship coronavirus infection, your best first step may be to consult with a cruise ship coronavirus lawyer and find out about your options.
Let Us Fight for You
Unfortunately, it can be too easy for a cruise line to hide behind international maritime laws that can be unfavorable for any U.S. based plaintiffs trying to recover compensation for their losses. While it can be a stressful, challenging, and lengthy task to hold a cruise line to account for yourself, a cruise ship coronavirus lawyer can help you with your claim. We can fight for your rights to justice and compensation.
If you or a loved one caught the novel coronavirus on a cruise ship and are now left with medical bills and other costs, you should act as soon as possible in order to file your case well within any statutes of limitation or other restrictions that may apply.
We know the law surrounding cruise ships and do not shy away from holding large and powerful companies to account. We can research your case and gather the evidence needed. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a complimentary assessment of your case: (800) 917-8989.