Cruise Injury & Maritime Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
Navigate Florida Maritime Law and Cruise Ship Accident Injuries with Fort Lauderdale Attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey
There’s no doubt about it – maritime law is particularly complex, and many people do not even realize that there are specific laws governing accidents that occur on the water. It’s unfortunate that this area of law is so poorly understood because it affects plenty of Floridians. With 1,197 miles of coastline, 922,597 registered boats and an estimated $12 billion economic contribution from the boating industry in 2019 (and growing)—not even counting the cruise industry, there is no denying the fact that the ocean is essential to many Floridians’ lives.
Maritime law impacts almost all Florida residents in some way–whether they are vacationing on a cruise ship, working on an oil rig or fishing vessel, riding a ferry, or taking a private boat out for a recreational weekend trip, maritime law is an important body of law in the state of Florida. You might be surprised to learn that maritime law (also referred to as admiralty law) doesn’t just apply to the ocean – in some cases, it can extend to accidents and injuries that occur on or around any body of water.
If you have sustained injuries while enjoying the Fort Lauderdale waterways, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico or while on a cruise ship, you need a certified maritime lawyer who you can trust to advocate on your behalf. Our skilled team of maritime lawyers have over 40 years’ worth of experience fighting for clients who have been injured on cruise ships and on the water, and are ready to go to work in your case today.
Determining Whether Maritime Law Applies in Your Florida Injury Case
Our modern maritime legal system can be traced back to 1920, when Congress passed the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a measure designed to protect anyone who works at sea if they are injured during the course of their employment. It allows plaintiffs to bring a personal injury action in federal court in order to collect compensation if their injury was caused by the negligence of their employer.
Today, the Jones Act still protects those who work at sea, but it also extends to many other people who may be injured while on the water. Your case might fall under maritime law if you are a:
- Cruise ship passenger
- Passenger on a crashed airplane
- Ferry passenger
- Yacht guest
- Recreational boater
- Worker on an offshore oil rig
- Commercial fisherman
- Ship worker
- Dock or harbor worker
- Merchant Marine
- Worker on any kind of commercial sea vessel
Fort Lauderdale Cruise Injuries Can Do More than Ruin Your Vacation
Although recent highly publicized cases have drawn more attention to the issue, people usually embark on a cruise excited and looking forward to a relaxing vacation—not worrying that they may suffer some sort of injury while on board the ship. Cruises are supposed to be fun and stress-free – you lounge on deck, enjoy the onboard entertainment, and visit new places. What’s there to worry about?
In early 2013, a Carnival Cruise ship proved that everything that can go wrong will go wrong when an engine room fire shut down its power, propulsion, sewer, and air-conditioning systems and left passengers stranded at sea for four days. Lately, that story has gotten even more outrageous as evidence has emerged that Carnival knew of the fire risk before this ship set sail. The high-profile Carnival incident has led many people to ask just how common cruise accidents are and what kinds of injuries cruise ship guests can suffer, even if their ship doesn’t encounter any major issues.
Unfortunately, cruise ship injuries are much more common than you might think, and significantly more common than the news coverage that the issue receives. That’s because there’s a lot that can go wrong at sea. For example, cruise ship injuries are frequently caused when:
- An undercooked meal causes food poisoning,
- A fire breaks out in the ship’s engine room,
- A guest slips and falls on a wet deck,
- A guest falls down a flight of stairs,
- A child falls into the pool and drowns.
Perhaps the worst part about sustaining injuries while on board a cruise ship is that many cruise ships do not always provide access to high-quality medical care. Some of the most common accidents that occur when a cruise ship is underway include:
- Slip and falls. It’s not unusual for decks on cruise ships to become slick, especially near swimming pools, and if passengers fall and seriously injure themselves, they may not be able to get medical attention until the next port.
- Injuries due to fires. Between 1990 and 2011, there were 79 reported fires on board cruise ships, and studies have shown that several fires occur aboard cruise ships every year. Fires can seriously damage the ship and put passengers at risk, and they can be particularly dangerous for the crew members who have to put the fire out.
- Food poisoning. If food isn’t stored properly on board the cruise ship, or if a refrigeration unit stops working, guests may spend an unfortunate amount of their trip confined to their rooms.
- Infections. When conditions on a cruise ship become unsanitary, as they did on the beleaguered Carnival cruise ship mentioned above, the risks of passengers getting an infection increases significantly.
- Medical malpractice. You don’t have access to a full hospital when you’re on a cruise ship – medical staff and resources are limited, so if you do have to seek medical attention, you might not get the quality of care that you need.
- Wrongful death. Deaths onboard cruise ships are relatively rare, thankfully, but they still happen. For example, in 2010, two passengers aboard a Louis Cruise Lines ship were killed after 26-foot waves that the crew had not anticipated slammed into the vessel.
If you are injured on a cruise ship, a ruined vacation might be the least of your worries. Injuries can have long-lasting effects, especially if you don’t receive proper treatment in a timely manner. Some injuries even prevent people from returning to work or being able to enjoy their lives to the extent they did before the accident.
Skilled Florida Maritime Lawyers Advocate for Your Right to Full Compensation for Cruise Ship Injuries
If you suffer a cruise ship injury or other type of maritime accident, you may feel both angry that those in charge of your vessel let this happen and helpless to do anything about it. You need to know that you’re not powerless in this situation. If your injury was caused by a mechanical error or the negligence of another person, you should be able to receive monetary compensation. At Lawlor, White & Murphey, we handle maritime cases involving:
- Recreational boating accidents,
- Cruise ship injuries and accidents,
- Accidents that occurred navigating inland waterways and the intercoastal waterways,
- Oil rig accidents,
- Cargo ship accidents,
- Fishing boat accidents,
- Shrimp boat accidents,
- River and harbor cruise boats,
- Water taxis,
- Injuries sustained at port or on a dock.
Because maritime law is such a complex topic, you shouldn’t try to file a lawsuit and build your case all on your own. You also shouldn’t just walk into the nearest law office to find an attorney to represent you. Few attorneys have experience in this area of law, and the state of Florida actually requires that lawyers become certified to practice in this field. If you work with an attorney who doesn’t understand this unique branch of the law, you’ll have a difficult time winning your case.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a Certified Florida Maritime Lawyer Today
Lawlor, White and Murphey has over 40 years of experience with maritime litigation – and that can make all the difference for your case. To learn more about what we can do for you, fill out this online contact form to schedule an appointment with one of our certified maritime lawyers. Initial consultations are free, and if you decide to work with us, you won’t have to pay us anything until we recover the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cruise Injuries & Maritime Law
Yes, and the laws that may apply will depend upon the specific facts of your case. For example, if you were injured while working as a dockworker, the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act may apply, and if you were injured while working on an oil rig, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act may apply. Schedule an appointment with our experienced lawyers to determine which body of law may apply in your specific case.
Cruise ships insert a myriad of fine print into their tickets—but you often do not actually even see the fine print, because many cruise ships now simply refer you to a website that outlines the terms and conditions of your cruise. In some cases, cruise lines require that passengers who are injured while on board provide notice of that injury to the cruise line within as little as six months in order to protect your right to recover compensation from the cruise line itself. Further, some cruise ships require that the injury be somehow reported or documented while you are still on board the cruise ship. Because of these restrictions—and the fact that they can vary based on which cruise line was operating your vessel—it is important to contact a certified maritime lawyer with experience handling cruise ship injuries as soon as possible, even if you have yet to even depart the ship.