Miami Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer: Sean M. Cleary

If you have been injured in a cruise ship accident due to the negligence of someone else, our attorney can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve.

How Do We Help After a Florida Cruise Ship Accident?

We investigate your case and interview passengers and crew members to establish whether the ship operating company or its employees acted negligently.

Sean M. Cleary

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Cruise Ship Accidents

Miami, FL, is home to the Port of Miami, which is known as the cruise capital of the world and has been so for more than two decades. Additionally, Port Everglades, found in Fort Lauderdale, is another popular, large and busy cruise port in Florida. This allows for a considerable amount of boat and ship traffic in the area - millions of people board cruise ships every year - and, in turn, numerous accidents, frequent poisonings, and the possibility of going overboard. A huge part of the incidents reported on cruise ships or ashore are related to crimes. Among these are murders, sexual assaults, criminal batteries, and robberies. According to the Department of Transportation, this year alone there were 46 reported crimes on cruise ships.

Cruise Ships Slip and Fall Accidents

South Florida's famed cruise ships attract numerous visitors from all over the world. It is estimated that 126 million domestic and overseas guests come to Miami, the Florida Keys, and other South Florida tourist locales every year.

Florida's endless sunshine and pristine waters promise you unforgettable recreation, relaxation, and fun. However, sometimes sudden worries can destroy this idyllic picture if you are injured on a cruise ship.

One of the more frequent accidents occurring on cruise ships is the slip-and-fall or the trip-and-fall accident. Slip and falls are the second largest cause of injuries in the U.S. after automobile accidents.

These injuries are especially common aboard cruise ships due to the hazardous environment. Cruise ship operators, such as Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian Cruise Lines are expected to be reasonably safe, but they sometimes neglect their duties, and guests sustain injuries as a result. For example, the crew is required to keep the halls, stairs, or decks dry or provide timely safety warnings, as well as maintain adequate lighting in all staircases and hallways. But the most common types of personal injuries suffered aboard cruise ships occur exactly because of:

  • Slippery floors
  • Insufficient lighting
  • Various unforeseeable obstacles
  • Harsh weather conditions
  • Failure to warn about dangerous conditions
  • Inattention
Cruise Ships Trip and Fall Accidents

So, sometimes cruise ship personnel is unsuccessful in carrying out their duties and passengers slip or trip and fall, sustaining injuries ranging from minor bruises to brain injury, fractures, and paralysis.

Falling can cause catastrophic injuries when it happens from one level to another due to inadequate or poorly maintained railings. Even worse, falling overboard could lead to drowning.

When accidents happen, The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary is there for you in the process of recovering damages from negligent cruise liner companies.

In many of these cases, cruise ship owners can be held responsible for their negligence and compelled to compensate you for your medical expenses, pain, and suffering, time off work, reduced future income and reduction in lifestyle.

Mr. Cleary is among the accomplished Miami injury lawyers specializing in cruise ship slip-and-fall accidents and has been fighting for the rights of injury victims for over 20 years. While treating victims with the utmost respect and compassion, he vigorously pursues the responsible parties - an approach that has helped many people injured in Miami cruise ship accidents. If you’re considering hiring a cruise ship injury attorney in Florida, give us a call. Let’s discuss why hiring an injury lawyer may be beneficial for your case.

Physical/Sexual Assault in Cruise Ships

A vacation spent leisurely enjoying the beauty of the Caribbean aboard a luxury liner is a dream-come-true for many of us. Unfortunately, as cruise ship passengers, we often do not realize that various crimes occur often during cruises, including:

While cruise lines would like us to believe that being sexually or physically assaulted is the victim's fault, often, injuries suffered by passengers are the results of negligence.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act Statistical Compilation provides valuable data about more serious personal injuries that occurred aboard luxurious vessels. Over 12 months, 2 U.S. citizens suffered assault with serious bodily injury while on board cruise ships and 35 others reported sexual assaults.

Passengers traveling alone, as well as crew members, or even officers can become victims of sexual assault. Having conversations with strangers, consuming alcoholic beverages, or only walking alone on the deck during the night can increase the risks of becoming a victim.

Cruise ship owners and operators are required to provide a reasonably secure environment by minimizing foreseeable safety risks. While not expected to predict each and every crime, cruise operators may be held responsible if they neglect to implement all reasonable security measures. Some of the more common examples of such negligence include:

  • Inadequate security personnel aboard a cruise ship
  • Insufficient screening of crew members' backgrounds
  • Lack of security cameras
  • Malfunctioning door locks
  • Inadequate lighting in stairwells and other public areas

Compensation for Sexual or Physical Assault on Cruise Ships

Sean M. Cleary is a tenured complex cruise ship injury attorney in Miami specializing in helping victims obtain just compensation for injuries sustained aboard cruise ships. He has helped accident victims settle or win complex injury cases arising from a variety of incidents, including sexual and physical assault. Mr. Cleary understands that victims of cruise ship sexual molestation require special attention, which is why he treats them with the utmost compassion while pursuing legal action against the parties responsible for their suffering.

In many cases, time is of the essence as cruise ship incidents often involve a shortened statute of limitations. Meaning that people usually have to file their personal injury claims against cruise lines within a year and notify the cruise line typically within six months.

Contact the highly experienced personal injury attorney Sean M. Cleary today for a free evaluation of your case and the determination of the best course of action.

Cruise Ships Contaminated Food

Every year, millions of passengers leave from the Port of Miami aboard luxury cruise ships to spend a couple of days or weeks relaxing, soaking in the beautiful scenery, shopping, partying and sampling a variety of fine foods.

Unfortunately, some passengers are prevented from enjoying their vacations due to outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses and bacteria present in contaminated food.

If your vacation aboard a cruise ship has been cut short due to sickness caused by norovirus, salmonella or some other harmful microorganism found in contaminated food, you could be entitled to compensation.

Cruise Ship Accidents: Norovirus

A potential hazard cruise ship passengers are facing is food poisoning due to the Norovirus or Norwalk Virus outbreak. Noroviruses are a class of viruses that affect the stomach and intestines causing gastroenteritis.

First identified in 1972 in the town of Norwalk, Ohio, the norovirus affects more than 20 million Americans annually. The viruses spread through contaminated water and food and, on cruise ships, through physical contact.

This gastrointestinal virus can be prevalent on cruise ships where the combination of closed spaces, deficient sanitary measures, and a large number of people creates conditions ripe for large-scale outbreaks.

Individuals affected by the norovirus typically experience:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches

Affected passengers are typically quarantined to their cabins to prevent spreading the illness, and they are expected to recover within several days. However, the physical and emotional discomfort experienced by norovirus victims often completely ruins their vacations.

What can you do if a loved has lost their life due to someone else’s negligence? We recognize the prevalence of food poisoning caused sickness on cruise ships and we are dedicated to protecting the rights of passengers. Our law firm extends our condolences for fatal accidents that happen too often on cruise ships.

Salmonella Outbreaks: Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Salmonella is another dangerous bacteria. It works similar to the norovirus in that it is often transmitted through contaminated food and causes a range of gastrointestinal symptoms, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fever

However, sickness caused by salmonella bacteria lasts somewhat longer as its victims usually take a week to recover. Also, if salmonellosis spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream, it can cause death. In the United States, about 600 individuals lose their lives every year due to complications of salmonellosis.

Compensation for Miami Cruise Ship Foodborne Illnesses

So, what can you do if you have been hurt on a cruise ship? You can contact a qualified cruise ship injury lawyer as soon as possible. Due to special laws that apply to cruise ship accidents, in most cases, you have to file your personal injury claim within a year.

Mr. Cleary has over 20 years of injury litigation experience. Most of all, The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary has won multi-million dollars for people injured in accidents, helping them recover compensation for their medical expenses, physical and emotional distress, and other damages. We understand the games that companies play, and we know how to prepare your injury claim.

While grieving and healing are the most important things after losing a loved one, you still have to deal with legal and financial issues. This is why hiring a Miami cruise ship injury attorney may be helpful after a fatal accident. While you and your family take time to cope, we can handle the legal issues by filing a wrongful death claim. Mr. Cleary can help families hold the responsible parties liable, through litigation based on Florida's wrongful death statutes or the Death on the High Seas Act. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case and a determination of the most appropriate plan of action.

Shore Excursions Injuries

While enjoying a cruise ship vacation, you may wish to take part in some of the organized shore excursions. Most cruise lines combine in their vacation packages days at sea with days on ports, during which you are welcome to participate in shore day trips.

While the excitement such trips can provide is evident, you may forget about the potential risks of exploring a tropical island or an exotic country, even with a designated guide.

Shore trips vary greatly depending on the geographical region you are visiting. In Europe, they mostly consist of sightseeing, while on the Caribbean islands, they are usually more active.

Some day trips involve the presence of a guide, while in other cases, a bus might take you to the city center and you are left alone to explore the area. You can, of course, choose to visit the port on your own without paying extra fees for the planned trip, but regardless of the visited area and the type of excursion, you are exposed to the risk of various injuries.

Trip and fall injuries can easily happen while visiting a busy metropolis or just as well while wandering among ancient ruins. If the journey involves more demanding activities, the risk of injuries is certainly higher, including injuries sustained:

  • In snorkeling and diving accidents
  • In tender boat accidents
  • In robberies
  • On rides, due to equipment failure
  • During violent crimes
  • In transport vehicle accidents
  • In hiking and climbing accidents
  • In parasailing accidents
  • In zipline accidents

Legal Liability for Shore Excursion Accidents

When organizing shore trips, cruise lines usually hire independent contractors, and often argue that they are not directly responsible for any claims arising from these trips. Operators are not supervised by cruise lines, and in case they are not adequately trained or act negligently, unaware passengers are exposed to various risks.

However, it is often obvious that tour operators are either joint ventures with the companies or cruise line agents. Cruise ship companies earn large profits from tours and excursions, and often control almost every aspect of the contract-based relationship with the tour company.

As an injured passenger, you need to be aware of the fact that you may still be able to recover damages, even for injuries that occurred during shore trips. According to the law, the cruise line has the responsibility to hire competent contractors for their day trips. If they were careless in selecting the contractors, they could be held legally responsible.

Cruise lines also must warn you about the dangers you might face on shore excursions. Therefore, in case you were robbed in a country with a high criminality rate, and you haven't been warned about the risk, the cruise line can be held responsible.

A cruise ship injury lawyer can establish the cruise ship's jurisdiction over the tour company, uncover contacts between foreign tour companies and the USA to establish Court jurisdiction and pinpoint where the cruise ship line failed to provide your safety and welfare.

How Can The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary Help?

If you have suffered a significant injury during a cruise line shore excursion, our attorney will help you pursue monetary compensation. We have extensive experience handling cruise ship injury cases and know exactly when and how compensation can be awarded. Contact us so we can analyze the circumstances of your case and establish whether you have a valid legal claim or not. Remember: claims brought against cruise lines have short statutes of limitation so you must act quickly to preserve your chances for compensation.

Onboard Activities Accidents

Cruises are becoming one of the most popular types of vacation, as they offer a broad range of activities, combining relaxing or active days onboard, sightseeing in different ports or day trips to exotic locations.

Each year thousands of passengers leave the port of Miami to enjoy a relaxing week aboard a luxurious ship, away from their usual concerns. Unfortunately, when boarding the ship, the last thing they expect is to suffer various injuries that might even endanger their lives.

We know how even a minor injury can ruin your vacation and we believe cruise ship operating companies should be held responsible for not providing a reasonably safe environment for their passengers.

Accidents Resulting from Onboard Activities

Most cruise lines offer packages combining port days and sea days. To avoid passengers getting bored on sea days, the crew organizes a broad range of onboard activities, both for adults and children. On most ships, passengers can choose from some of the following activities:

  • Swimming or participating in pool games
  • Competing in basketball and volleyball tournaments
  • Playing mini-golf
  • Taking dance classes
  • Going to the gym or spa
  • Taking cooking classes
  • Gambling in the casino

Some cruises, like the Royal Caribbean, offer more exotic activities as well, like rock-climbing, onboard surfing, boogie boarding, driving a racecar, ice skating or learning trapeze. Children can also be registered with the onboard kids' club to participate in different age-appropriate activities, like various organized games, contests, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts projects, and dance parties.

Although most of these activities are performed under crew members' supervision and guidance, simply due to their nature, passengers are exposed to the risk of serious injuries, especially as there is a tendency of trying out new types of activities for which they just aren't prepared. It is easy to imagine the accidents unaware passengers can suffer during onboard surfing or in the gym's boxing ring.

The cruise line's effort to provide all these activities is considerable, but alongside these efforts, there must exist the responsibility to ensure passenger safety. If a passenger slips and sustains, for example, a hip dislocation that requires surgery for correction, the cruise line will be responsible for the injury and may have to pay for the damages.

How Can the Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary Help?

What can you do if you sustained serious injuries while participating in any onboard activities? At The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, we have extensive experience in representing cruise ship passengers who sustained various injuries during their vacation.

Do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. You need to act quickly, as cruise lines have short statutes of limitation. Most of them require that notice of a claim to the cruise line is provided within six months following the injury, and legal claims are filed within one year. The laws that apply to cruise ship injuries are different from personal injury laws, so having an experienced maritime attorney on your side is essential when you wish to pursue just compensation.

Cruise Ships Wrongful Death Accidents

Miami is home to many luxury cruise liners and each year thousands of passengers leave the Port of Miami aboard these ships expecting a dream vacation away from their everyday concerns.

Unfortunately, for some, the vacation can turn into a nightmare as accidents, injuries or even wrongful death are just as likely to occur aboard these floating cities as in any other vacation place.

If you are a surviving family member of a passenger or crew member who suffered wrongful death while onboard a cruise ship, our hearts go out to you and your family. However, it's important to know that you have the legal possibility to recover damages.

Cruise Ship Fatal Accident: Types and Causes

The most common types of deadly acts passengers and crew members of cruise ships might suffer include:

Unfortunately, the ship owner's or the employees' failure to provide a relatively safe environment can lead to serious, potentially life-threatening injuries, such as spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries. As an example:

  • A 26-year-old American passenger fell to his death while he was aboard a cruise ship. The exact reason why the man fell from the upper levels down to the lobby level of the cruise ship was not known. However, slip and fall seemed to be the most likely answer.
  • A young female passenger went overboard a cruise ship, probably because of the same reason. Her surviving mother ended up filing a wrongful death claim as the ship's crew failed to initiate an immediate rescue mission.
  • Slip and fall accidents can endanger the life of team members as well. A crewmember of the Carnival Magic cruise ship went overboard while working on the deck due to a slippery floor. Fortunately, the sailor was wearing a lifejacket and was rescued in time.
  • Inappropriate medical assistance can also cause a passenger's wrongful death. That was the case of a passenger of the Carnival Dream. The woman was suffering from critical bowel obstruction, but one of the crew members gave her an enema instead of notifying the ship's medical staff. The failure to provide immediate and appropriate medical assistance led to fatal complications causing her death. Her surviving husband filed a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines.

How Can The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary Help?

Are you or your loved ones protected by Maritime laws if the unthinkable happens and injury occurs on a cruise ship? If a family member was a passenger or crew member who was a fatal victim of a boat accident more than three miles outside the territorial waters of the U.S., and you want to pursue a claim in the U.S., your exclusive remedy is under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA).

Passed by Congress in 1920, DOHSA permits family members to recover damages for fatal accidents caused by negligence or other wrongdoing at sea, such as unseaworthiness, intentional behavior, or product liability. Unlike wrongful death laws in most states, DOHSA only permits recovery for economic losses, like lost wages, financial support, and funeral expenses, but non-monetary damages cannot be recovered.

If you are a surviving family member, you can file a claim against the party who is legally liable for the death of your loved one. However, you must act promptly as all claims brought against cruise ships have a short statute of limitations. The cruise ticket works as a valid contract and typically provides that the cruise line has to be notified about any incidents within six months and any claims must be brought within one year. If you exceed this period, you will lose your rights for compensation.

As a cruise ship passenger, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to read and understand the terms and conditions of the cruise ticket contract. This is given to you before you embark on a voyage and contains the specific terms for filing an injury claim and all the limitations against the cruise line company.

You must read this information attentively and understand it accurately because it is the key to legal rights protection in case things go wrong or take an unforeseen turn. Though these conditions may vary from cruise line to cruise line, two of them are fairly typical.

Most cruise line operating companies require the injured passengers to send a notice of a claim within six months after the injury.

The claim itself must be filed within one year of the accident.

These conditions give a rather small window of legal action to both passengers and lawyers and make it imperative to act and react quickly and efficiently after a cruise ship accident.

Aside from the information related to the time-frame for filing a claim that can be found on the ticket, you should also pay attention to information about limitations regarding the location where valid claims can be filed.

Since most cruise accidents or assaults occur outside of the U.S. jurisdiction, they are governed by a specific “law of the seas” known as Maritime law, also by the law of the country where the cruise ship is registered and the legislation of the state where the ship departed. Maritime law relates to the waters and involves an often complicated combination of United States federal laws, private international laws, and even state laws.

For this reason, typically, cruise ship injury cases are filed in the Eleventh Federal Circuit Southern District Court in Miami or in Brevard County, where most major cruise lines are headquartered, even if the cruise ship is not registered in the U.S.

If you have questions about whether or not you may have a case, do not hesitate to contact Mr. Cleary. To find your way through these various legal systems, you need an experienced maritime attorney, to preserve your chances of recovering just compensation. Having an attorney handling your case who understands how to apply Maritime law to cases involving cruise ship injuries is imperative to obtaining a fair recovery.

Laws that apply to ships at sea, to their passengers and crew are special and different from the legislation of the land. Mr. Cleary is highly familiar with these Maritime laws and has extensive experience handling types of claims connected to them.

All cruise ships have on the back of the ticket a waiver limiting their liability for injuries that occur on-board. While cruise lines may assert that these limited liability waivers are iron-clad, in many cases, they are not valid and enforceable for different reasons.

These provisions cannot waive liability in every situation and the cruise line will be held liable for certain types of injuries sustained by passengers. Sean M. Cleary is an experienced lawyer who is able to evaluate your situation and argue against liability waivers.

Cruise ships are known as “common carriers” since they transport passengers on regular routes at set rates. This means they are held to the highest standard of care when it comes to the safety of their passengers and should be held liable for any injuries that occur due to unsafe conditions or other acts of negligence.

However, cruise ship operators are not strictly liable and passengers who suffer personal injury are required to prove the carrier's negligence. The cruise line may be liable for personal injuries to its passengers if it is proven that the measures meant to protect and keep passengers safe were insufficiently taken or didn't exist.

For a valid legal claim, the following criteria have to be met:

  • The cruise ship was under a duty towards the passenger
  • Crewmembers or the operating company breached their duty
  • The passenger sustained injuries as a result
  • The injuries resulted in financial damages

Under Maritime law, the determination of negligence hinges mainly on whether a reasonably careful ship operator probably would not have known about the hazard that caused your injury. Even the most careful ship operator can't foresee every dangerous condition.

Sean M. Cleary can help your case prevail by finding witnesses, using an expert witness and presenting evidence pointing to the operator's negligence. Sometimes, proving negligence is as simple as proving noncompliance with a given regulation.

The legal demand for proving the carrier's negligence is to be entrusted only to a lawyer with a vast knowledge of Maritime law and extensive experience with cruise ship accidents.

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Common Cruise Injury Questions

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Cruise Ship Accident Injury in Florida? »

Typically, claims need to be filed in the state/location indicated on the back of the ticket. Usually, the passenger’s cruise ticket informs in its fine print that claims and lawsuits for bodily injury must be brought within one year of the accident in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, in Miami-Dade County, Florida. For example, if you are injured on January 1, 2016, you must file a Florida cruise ship accident claim by January 1, 2017.

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What Types of Cruise Ship Accidents Can Be Handled by a Lawyer? »

All incidents that threaten the well-being of cruise ship passengers and crew members can constitute a legal case and can be handled by a lawyer, whether they are due to inattention, failure to warn about dangers etc. If you suffered a serious personal injury onboard a cruise ship, it is recommended that you seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

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Who Is Entitled to Financial Compensation for Personal Injury in a Cruise Ship Accident? »

If the injured party can prove that the cruise line or crew failed to exercise reasonable care, the injured party may be entitled to compensation. Compensation depends on the cause of the incident, prerequisites stated on the ticket or in the contract with the cruise line and the severity of injuries.

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What Infections, Illnesses and Contamination Can Occur on a Cruise? »

The most frequent cruise ship medical conditions are respiratory infections, gastrointestinal diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases, seasickness and slip-and-fall injuries. Most contagious conditions spread through contaminated food and drinks, inadequate sanitation and poor ventilation.

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