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Boating, Cruise Ships and Maritime Accidents starstarstarstarstar

Boating and cruise ship accidents occur frequently.  Florida leads the nation in boating injuries, in large part because it is surrounded by water on three sides and has abundant bays, lakes and rivers. Florida has almost one million registered vessels and an estimated 300,000 that are unregistered. In 2017 there were 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries in the country caused by boating. Florida led the country in injuries and deaths.

Boating is a huge part of Florida’s lifestyle. The Fort Lauderdale area has been called the “Venice of America” because of its more than 300 miles of inland waterways. Some call it the Yachting Capital of the World because more than 40,000 yachts call it home. The annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is one of the largest events of its kind in the world. Miami’s International Boat Show is one of the largest in the world and attracts hundreds of thousands each year over President’s Day weekend.

Recreational boating accidents occur too often in Florida waters. They are not limited to just boats: residents and visitors alike are killed and injured as a result of water skiing, jet skiing, and parasailing. Jet skis, known as “personal water craft” are very difficult to maneuver, have tremendous power, and are often the cause of many injuries at the hands of visitors and locals alike.

Florida is the cruise ship capital of the world.  The Port of Miami is home to most of the major cruise lines and their largest ships, many leaving with almost 5,000 passengers at a time. Florida is where most cruise ship accident cases must be brought because of the contract that is a part of almost every cruise ship ticket for passage.

Virtually all boating accidents are preventable. The most common cause of these tragedies is operator inexperience or inattention. 84% of all boating fatalities that occur on boats happen where operators have not completed a boating safety education course. Our boat accident lawyers can help families who have lost loved ones from a boat crash or help recover substantial damages for people hurt while boating in Florida.

Just like with cars, a major cause of boating tragedies is “BUI” – boating under the influence. It is estimated that 30% of all recreational boating deaths are caused by intoxication. And also just like motor vehicle, it is against the law for captains of boats to be under the influence of any intoxicant – drug or alcohol

Cruise Ship Accident Lawyers

Known as the “cruise capital of the world,” the Port of Miami is home to more cruise ships than any other location. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity, Crystal and several other lines port their largest cruise ships in Miami. By contract (called the “ticket for passage” by the cruise line) most cruise lines require that any case against them be brought in Miami. They also require that these cases be brought within one year, a very short statute of limitation (deadline).  You must act quickly to preserve your rights if you have been injured aboard a cruise ship or on a shore excursion while on a cruise.

Cruise ships are not merely large boats, they are virtual floating cities. These maritime hotels, however, often lack fundamental safety policies, protocols, and procedures to protect passengers from harm. They generally fly foreign flags, so they do not have to comply with United States laws. Additionally, antiquated laws and contractual language limiting passenger rights and remedies put travelers in a precarious position and require aggressive litigation.

At Leighton Law we are Miami cruise ship lawyers and boating accident lawyers. Based in Florida, with offices in Miami and Orlando, the firm has obtained substantial recoveries for the victims of boating accidents, including $1,325,000 for the family of a young woman killed by a drunk boater. This young college student’s life was cut short because of BUI – boating under the influence.  This tragedy was followed by a 6 year criminal prosecution of the boater, resulting in his imprisonment. A recent public service video was the subject of our blog, DRUNK BOATING KILLS PEOPLE…and families.

The firm has also represented many cruise ship passengers injured while vacationing. These can involve slips, trips, crew-related injuries and shore excursions.  Many times it involves medical malpractice by the doctors and medical; personnel aboard the ships.  The medical care aboard cruise ships should be carefully examined because of the questionable nature of who the cruise lines hire to provide medical care (for which they charge the passengers).

What You Need To Do If You Are Hurt On A Cruise

It is most important to act quickly if you are injured on a cruise. There is a one year statute of limitations (deadline to file suit) and a 6 month written notice requirement to the cruise line.  We recommend that passengers who suffer any injury do the following:

  • Get names, addresses, emails and phone numbers of all passengers who may be witnesses to what happened or the condition of the ship which caused the injury
  • Take photographs and video of the scene, personnel and injuries
  • Get the names of all crew who were involved including those who came afterward
  • Obtain copies of any documents related to what happened, the medical care as well as the cruise or shore excursion itself
  • Do not provide any written or recorded statement to the cruise line
  • Get medical attention immediately and get copies of all medical records as soon as possible
  • If seriously injured, get to a major medical center in an American city as soon as possible.
  • If this is a life threatening emergency, demand that they return to the closest port or have you air-evacuated by helicopter
  • Find competent, experienced attorneys as soon as possible because of the very short statute of limitations and notice period

Recently Mr. Leighton represented the family of a man who was killed in Miami’s worst boating disaster in history. The catastrophe occurred on July 4, 2014, and took the lives of four people including the impaired boater operating one of the 3 boats involved.  Once again a tragic result from Boating Under the Influence.

Leighton Law has obtained numerous substantial verdicts and settlements against cruise lines on behalf of cruise ship passengers for slips and falls, cruise staff misconduct, on board sexual assaults and shore excursion injuries.

We continue to aggressively litigate cases against the cruise lines, most of which require that suit be brought in Miami, Florida based on the contract between the passenger and cruise line in the ticket for passage.

Please review our representative boating and cruise ship verdicts and settlements.

Disclaimer: The information about past verdicts and settlements of the firm’s cases are based on the unique facts of each case. These amounts reflect the gross recovery in each case (before attorneys fees, expenses and medical costs are deducted).  Although these results were obtained by our firm, they may not indicate the success or value of any other case.  By clicking on Verdicts and Settlements you are acknowledging that each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The information contained here has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar.