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Court says cruise lines can now be liable for medical negligence

Visions of an upcoming cruise vacation may include images of waving goodbye to loved ones on the dock, enjoying an adventure while on the trip and even lounging on the deck while afloat in the middle of the ocean. Most people in New Jersey might not imagine that their vacation might also include a serious injury. Until recently, passengers on cruise ships who suffered medical negligence weren't able to seek justice from the cruise line.

In 2011, a man aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise suffered a serious head injury while the ship was in a Bermuda port. Although a nurse did examine him, he was given little medical treatment. It took four full hours before the doctor on board the ship evaluated his injury, and he wasn't airlifted to a hospital in the United States until the following day. A week later, he died from his injury. However, his family was initially left with few legal options.

In 1988, cruise lines were granted immunity in the event that a passenger suffered due to improper or negligent care from on-board staff. However, advancements in technology appeared to make the previous ruling outdated, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The ruling giving cruise lines immunity was overturned, clearing the path for victims of cruise ship negligence and their families to move forward with claims.

Whether it occurs at a doctor's office, hospital or even a cruise ship, medical negligence can cause serious damage to an injured or sick patient or passenger. If that negligence occurred while on a cruise ship, New Jersey victims and their families have the option to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. If successfully navigated, victims may be awarded invaluable compensation for medical bills as well as pain and suffering.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Court ruling reinstates negligence suit against cruise line", Hugo Martin, Nov. 13, 2014

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Alan D. Bell
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Phone: 973-233-4291
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