If you file a lawsuit against a cruise line after contracting COVID-19 on a cruise ship, you can expect that the process and outcome will likely be different from any other personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.
Cruise ships and cruise lines are not always under U.S. jurisdiction. They may be subject to various international maritime laws that might place restrictions on liability and compensation.
In addition, ships can be registered in a foreign country, despite the cruise line headquarters being in the United States. This is the case with Carnival Corporation ships, which has some of its ships registered in Panama and the Bahamas. The laws of the nation under whose flag a cruise ship sails can come into play with any lawsuits.
It is also important to note that you usually must file a lawsuit against a cruise line in the city where it is headquartered. Many major cruise lines—for example, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival Corporation—have their headquarters in Miami, Florida.
All in all, filing a lawsuit against a cruise line is no picnic. You may want to consult with a cruise ship personal injury lawyer who can help you understand your rights.
Potential Cruise Line Lawsuit Compensation
If you contracted COVID-19 on a cruise ship and incurred medical costs and lost wages as a result, or your loved one died from a cruise ship COVID-19 infection, you may be able to recover compensation. You may be able to seek compensation for other incidents of negligence.
Although cruise line companies try to protect themselves from liability by having passengers sign a contract with their ticket purchases, you may still have the right to sue if the cruise line has been negligent. The compensation you could potentially recover can include:
- Present and future medical treatment costs
- Hospitalization costs
- Repatriation and other transportation costs
- Lost wages, both current and future
You could also receive other types of compensation, such as punitive damages.
If the negligent act that caused your loved one’s death on the ship happened within 3 nautical miles of the U.S. coastline, state law generally applies. Because some lawsuits must be filed in Miami, where Florida law may apply. Under § 768.21 of the Florida Statutes, you may be able to claim for mental pain and suffering in addition to any economic damages such as lost wages, lost benefits, and medical bills.
However, if the incident occurred more than 3 nautical miles offshore, the Death on the High Seas Act (46 USC § 30302) typically applies to wrongful death claims. The Act may not allow for compensation for any emotional pain and suffering of survivors.
Cruise Line Negligence
It seems that most major cruise lines were ill-prepared in handling the spread of COVID-19 on their ships. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published warnings for travelers regarding coronavirus on cruise ships as far back as early March, cruise lines were late to react. Ships were still sailing when the CDC issued a no-sail order on March 14.
In some cases, the delayed reaction of cruise lines resulted in ships drifting at sea, unable to dock at any port, with passengers quarantined and COVID-19 spreading almost unabated. Data analysis by the Miami Herald links over 3,000 COVID-19 infections and nearly 80 deaths to cruise ship voyages. The newspaper goes on to mention that the real number is likely even higher.
When filing a lawsuit against a cruise line, expect having to prove with evidence and witnesses that the cruise line’s negligence caused your COVID-19 infection and damages. The elements of proving a cruise ship personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit are generally the same as in any other such suit.
You will need to demonstrate the following:
- The cruise line had a duty of care toward you or your loved one.
- The duty of care was breached.
- This breach caused your injuries or the death of your loved one, as well as the resulting damages.
Having a cruise ship personal injury lawyer help you build a case and possibly even represent you in court could provide peace of mind.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Today for Help
Holding a large cruise ship company to account can be daunting and challenging on your own. Cruise lines typically fight any claims vigorously. You may want help with your COVID-19 or other personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against a cruise line. An attorney can research your case, as well as collect evidence and expert witnesses, if needed.
There may be a time limit set by the contract you signed when purchasing your ticket to pursue your cruise line case. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 794-0444 for a free no-obligation case review with a team member. The sooner you act, the sooner we can get started.