Whether it’s for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, spending time on a cruise ship is supposed to be a way to escape your troubles. To relax, enjoy yourself and leave your cares behind you on land. Unfortunately, some people get exactly the opposite and suffer injuries while aboard ship, caused by the very people who were supposed to provide an enjoyable experience.
A brief look at negligence
Cruise lines have a duty to treat their passengers with a reasonable degree of care. They must operate their ships and take actions in a way which would be prudent under the circumstances. The standard they must live up to is an objective one that will change from situation to situation, but it never goes away. If the cruise line acts in a manner below their legal duty, and a passenger is injured in the process, they are considered negligent and can be held liable for the passenger’s injuries.
The statute of limitations
Frequently, a passenger must file a personal injury lawsuit against the cruise line in order to obtain the compensation they’re owed. However, there is a time limit to do so, called the statute of limitations. As a general matter, 46 U.S. Code 30106 sets the statute of limitations at three years. This means the passenger must file the personal injury claim within three years or lose the right entirely.
There’s more to it, though. When a passenger buys a ticket for a cruise, that ticket contains a lot of legal language they likely won’t read. One clause the ticket will almost certainly contain is a provision shortening the statute of limitations – often to as little as a year or less. It may also contain independent notice requirements not mandated by federal law, as well as restrictions on where the lawsuit can be filed. Because of these complexities, if you’ve been injured while on a cruise, it’s imperative that you seek professional assistance quickly. There may not be a lot of time to decide what to do, where to do it or when.