The cruise industry has a special set of rules which can be traps for injured passengers. Typically, such rules are spelled-out in the ticket, which is a multi-page form or buried in the cruise brochure.
Here are some of the rules:
Notice of Claim (Six Months). Before filing suit an injured passenger must file a notice of claim with the cruise line within six months of the accident. This is an essential step to recovering damages. If there is no notice of claim, there can be no recovery.
Statute of Limitations (One Year). The lawsuit must be filed within one year of the accident.
Lawsuit Venue. The lawsuit must be brought where the cruise company maintains its principal office. Most cruise lines marketed in the United States have their main offices in south Florida (for example, Carnival, Princess, Holland-America, and Cunard). Therefore, even where the accident occurred while the ship was sailing within New York Harbor and the injured person lives in New York, the lawsuit would have to be brought in a Florida court.
Admiralty Jurisdiction. The ticket may require that the lawsuit be brought in the Federal Court under admiralty jurisdiction. This means that a judge without a jury will decide your case.
The Athens Convention May Be Applicable. This treaty provides that damages can be limited to $70,000 on international cruises. However, if the ships stops at a United States port, the limitation is inapplicable, and the injured party can recover the full amount of damages that he proves.
As with all accidents, hire an attorney quickly upon your return home. Where necessary, we have hired counsel in Florida to assist us.