The Death on the High Seas Act – Lazarus and Lazarus Law Firm

Fort Lauderdale Maritime Law AttorneyIt sounds like something out of a swashbuckler novel involving pirates. The “Death on the High Seas” Act is a United States admiralty law enacted by the United States Congress. It was originally intended to permit “recovery of damages against a shipowner by a spouse, child or dependent family member of a seaman killed in international waters” in wrongful death cases “caused by negligence or unseaworthiness.” It also applies to cases arising out of airline disasters over the high seas that occur beyond the 12-nautical miles of U.S. territorial waters.

The problem is that it sometimes has a reverse effect, limiting damages paid to survivors because they often cannot obtain judgments for non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) when a cruise passenger dies in international waters.

A recent case involves a married couple from Nebraska who went on a river cruise originating in Peru. A fire in their room broke out and they were killed by smoke inhalation. Even though the boat was new there was evidence of faulty wiring that may have caused the fire. One of the couple’s daughters, obviously upset, said “There’s no place else in the world that you can kill somebody and really have no consequence, other than international waters.”

International maritime law has been a primary focus area for our law firm since it’s beginning over 20 years ago. With our offices in Fort Lauderdale, we see many people every year who have been injured or have incurred damages as a result of going on cruise ships operating out of Port Everglades, one of the busiest cruise ports in the world.

Sometimes incidents happen on the ship at sea, sometimes while berthed at the port, and sometimes people are injured while on excursions away from the boat in foreign countries. Each incident is different, and each one will likely involve dealing with different jurisdictions and different laws, perhaps even the “Death on the High Seas” Act. We have seen it all.

If you or someone you know has suffered some type of injury or loss while on a cruise or while engaged in a cruise ship excursion, we would be happy to share our expertise and offer legal advice. Calling us at 954-356-0006 is the first step, and thank you.

cruise ship accident attorney

Cruise Ships are Getting Smart, Hiring Lifeguards – Fort Lauderdale Cruise Ship Accident Attorney

fort lauderdale cruise ship accident attorneyBased in the Fort Lauderdale area we decided many years ago to provide assistance to people who have had harmful incidents with cruise ships and cruise lines. It is an interesting and challenging area of law for several reasons, including the reality that often incidents occur outside the jurisdiction of U.S. laws.

One of the most perplexing areas of concern for us over the years has been the accidents, injuries, and deaths that occur in and around swimming pools on board cruise ships. Cruise lines have traditionally opted to not provide lifeguards to patrol the pools, and pointed to statistics they believe back-up their decision. They have compared the number of accidents on ships to the number of land-based pools and decided that because, according to their numbers are fewer, there was no need for lifeguards. It has always been bewildering to us how they could reach that conclusion because even one preventable accident is too many.

Read more “Cruise Ships are Getting Smart, Hiring Lifeguards – Fort Lauderdale Cruise Ship Accident Attorney”

Overseas Health and Accident Insurance for Cruise Passengers

Two important things to think about whenever you travel overseas are (1) local laws and (2) insurance coverage.

Foreign laws are quite different than U.S. laws and anyone traveling abroad would be wise to study them, especially criminal laws. For example, with marijuana regulation lightening up in America, one might think that the rest of the world is going the same way.

That’s not entirely accurate.

For example, if you are going to Thailand, you may want to know that in Thailand, possession of category one drugs for the purpose of sale carries the death penalty!

People going on a cruise often think that the cruise company will have all bases covered should anything happen, like an illness, accident, or a minor legal issue. That, too would be an incorrect assumption. If you’re on board the ship and have a health issue, most ships have doctors and a medical facility. At a port-of-call you might be on your own.

On a recent B&O Cruise several passengers were injured while off-ship on the island of Vanuatu when their bus struck another vehicle. The report said “of the 12 tourists injured in the accident, 10 of them were seriously injured enough to warrant air ambulance evacuations to Brisbane. Several of the tourists involved in the crash suffered head injuries and multiple fractures.” Brisbane is 1200 miles from Vanuatu, which is quite disconcerting.

So, what can you do to make sure you are covered for any mishaps, accidents, or emergencies that might happen while far from home on a cruise? It might be a good idea to look into some quality insurance coverage.

There are three types of insurance related to international travel:

  • Travel Insurance insures your financial investment in your trip. Typically it covers such things as the cost of your lost baggage and cancelled flights, but it may or may not cover costs of medical attention you might need while abroad.
  • Travel Medical Insurance covers the cost of various levels of overseas medical treatment.
  • Medical Evacuation Services provides air ambulance, medical evacuation or medical escort service coverage for overseas travelers.

Before you buy new coverage, check your own insurance. Some policies will cover you abroad, some will not. The U.S. State Department has a link to a page on their website that offers a list of companies that will provide coverages. Blue Cross offers travel health insurance here.

As you can see, this is all a very complex area to understand. When someone is injured or is the victim of a crime while on a cruise away from the U.S. it’s always a complicated issue.

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been dealing with victims of negligence by cruise line companies, foreign medical personnel, hotels, and other transportation providers for over 20 years. We are one of the most highly regarded firms in the area of maritime law and we deal with U.S. and foreign law enforcement as well as insurance companies to make sure our clients are protected. Please reach out to us by calling 954-356-0006 and ask to speak with Gary or Arleen Lazarus.

Cruise Ship Alcohol

Pre-Paid Alcohol Plans + Moving Cruise Ship = Injuries

Plans Encourage More Drinking

There’s something about traveling that brings out the desire to drink in certain individuals. Some people sit down in their seat on an airliner and the first thing they look for is the beverage cart. Many commuter trains used to have bar cars, but most have been eliminated. The Metro North line in New York and Connecticut was apparently the last and they ended in 2014.

Cruise lines have taken the concept of travel-drinking to a new high with all-you-can-drink plans for passengers who don’t want to take the chance they might not get enough booze on their voyage. Carnival Cruise Lines offers a plan called CHEERS! and their website says “The cost to purchase CHEERS! prior to your cruise is $49.95 USD per person, per day plus 15% gratuity.”

Cruise Ship AlcoholSome people feel that it is irresponsible to offer these types of drinking plans to people who are obviously going to be in an unfamiliar setting on a moving vessel. The cruise lines have no idea if they are selling these plans to responsible, experienced drinkers or people who have very bad reactions to alcohol. Everyone is different.

Common sense tells most people that excessive alcohol consumption reduces a person’s ability to control balance and motor skills. If common sense isn’t doing it, there is also plenty of medical evidence. According to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol affects every single organ in the human body. After even just one drink, you might notice the effects of alcohol on your mind and ability to perceive your environment. This is the result of the alcohol being absorbed rapidly into your blood stream.

Each instance involving a passenger injured while imbibing in alcohol on cruise ship will involve several questions. Was the passenger indeed drunk? Was the passenger over-served? Was there negligence on the part of the ship involving dangerous conditions?  Some people might think, “If I get drunk and fall on a cruise ship, it’s not my fault,” and that may or may not be true. The responsibility for injuries incurred on a cruise ship is often a murky area, as there may be negligence by the passenger or by the ship. As with most things pertaining to the law, it’s complicated.

People go on cruises to have fun, there is no doubt about that. People also are injured, sometimes severely on cruise ships. When accidents happen, someone has to conduct a thorough investigation about the facts and circumstances that may have contributed to the incident. Many personal injury attorneys will claim to be qualified to handle a cruise ship injury but very few are actually experienced and have sufficient knowledge of the cruise industry to properly represent a victim.

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been representing the victims of cruise ship negligence for over 20 years. We are familiar with the tactics used by cruise line corporations, and we know how to get results for our clients. Please reach out to us by calling 954-356-0006 and ask to speak with Gary or Arleen Lazarus. All communication with our office is strictly confidential.

Cruise Ship Accidents Leave Many Without Recourse

“Moving Hotels” Can be Dangerous

Cruises are supposed to be fun, and they almost always are. But the illusion that many people experience once they step foot on a ship is that they can completely let their normal sense of caution fly out the porthole and let loose for 5-7 days. That’s not entirely accurate.

A Google search of cruise ship accidents will reveal on-board pool drownings, slips and falls, and recently there was a tragic case of a woman who slipped off the Queen Elizabeth and was crushed to death by a tender boat. That horrific incident occurred in Cambodia where the investigative capabilities of police and other authorities are suspect at best.

Another unfortunate passenger suffered a slip and fall which resulted in a head injury. After visiting and being examined by the ship’s medical staff she was pronounced to be fine, only to later slip into a coma and die.

Have fun but Keep Your Natural Sense of Caution

Americans planning to go on a cruise for their vacation should go on the cruise. They just need to understand that like our bodies, caution needs to be exercised.

USCG“The Week” editor Lauren Hansen wrote a column titled “7 Reasons to never ever ever vacation on a cruise ship” and she outlines 7 particularly ghastly (and rare) incidents which drove her to reach her personal decision to never go on a cruise. The incidents were: Adrift and Powerless – Pirates! – Run Aground and Capsized – Flu Outbreak – Going Missing – Crime – and Collisions.

These types of incidents almost never occur, but when they do happen on a cruise ship, people need to be aware they are likely to be in international waters or in a foreign country where the rules are different. The laws, customs, and your rights are not the same when you’re out of the boundaries of the United States of America.

Specialized Area of Law

Who knows what to do when bad things do happen on board a cruise ship? Attorneys who specialize in Maritime Law and Cruise Ship Liability.

For over 20 years the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has dedicated a substantial segment of their Fort Lauderdale law practice to representing the victims of cruise line negligence and malpractice. South Florida is home to two of the busiest cruise-ship ports, the Port of Miami and Port Everglades.

If you or anyone you know has experienced an accident or was the victim of any injury while on board a cruise ship – or while on an excursion away from their ship, the best course of action is to seek advice from an expert.

Calling 954-356-0006 will connect you with the caring staff at Lazarus and Lazarus, who will hear your story and then connect you with Gary and Arleen Lazarus. All communications are completely confidential.

Cruise Ship Negligence

Is Your Safety Assured on a Crowded Cruise Ship?

If you have visited the beach near Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a Sunday afternoon-evening, you have probably noticed the steady stream of cruise ships as they parade out to sea. One-after-another they go, destined for cruise journeys ranging from a few nights to a few weeks.

There are More Ships and Passengers Sailing from South Florida than Anywhere Else on Earth

When you consider the amount of food, liquor, and other supplies on board each ship it is staggering to imagine what a boom it is for the local economy. The Sun-Sentinel recently reported that a single day record for passengers leaving and arriving at Port Everglades in one day was set on December 20, 2015: 53,485!

South Florida is part of the Caribbean/Bahamas region, and you can see that no other area comes close in terms of market share:

  • Caribbean/Bahamas 3%
  • Mediterranean 9%
  • Europe w/o Med 8%
  • Asia 6%
  • Australia/New Zealand/S. Pac 1%
  • Alaska 4%
  • South America 4%
  • Other Programs 5%

Going on a cruise is usually a wonderful experience, with more sun, fun, and food than most people could ever hope to experience on dry land. But there are issues regarding safety and liability which must be known about before setting Cruise Ship Negligenceout into international waters.

I recall a friend telling me that when he enlisted the U.S. Navy he was informed immediately after being sworn in “You are now under the authority of the Uniform Code of Military Justice” and my friend said he was a bit concerned because he felt he had waived his rights under the U.S. Constitution and was now “doomed!” In a way, he had waived those rights.

Similarly, any traveler who embarks on a cruise ship is playing under a new set of rules. Maritime Law is not like U.S. Law, and incidents occurring on board a vessel at sea are not covered by the same rights and privileges a U.S. citizen can count on here at home.

For example, if an accident occurs as a result of negligence by a cruise line company or an employee of a cruise line it will not be easy to document and pursue compensation for injuries including medical expenses, pain and suffering.

Some of the calamities discussed in a New York Times article about cruise ship on-board events include: adrift at sea, running aground, fires, viruses, overflowing toilets, and finally, sinking. Not exactly sun and fun stuff.

Cruise ships operate under the stress of what’s known as a rigid financial bottom line. They must transport as many passengers as possible in a very competitive market, keeping the fares low and the quality as high as they can. Sometimes corners are cut, and passengers suffer the consequences.

Only a handful of attorneys have dedicated their practice to include the complex area of Maritime Law, and in Fort Lauderdale one such firm is Lazarus and Lazarus. For over 20 years Gary and Arleen Lazarus have represented passengers who suffered losses and/or injuries due to the negligence of cruise ship companies. You may reach the firm by calling 954-356-0006 and asking for a free initial consultation. All information exchanged with the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus is completely confidential.

Excursions from Cruise Ships can be Hazardous to your Health

Passengers who travel on cruise ships may believe that they are covered under the cruise line’s liability insurance from the moment they step foot on the boat until the time they disembark. That may not be entirely accurate.

Recently there have been several very tragic incidents involving injuries and deaths to passengers during “excursions” away from the ship.

A woman from Minnesota was killed while traveling by bus on the island of Jamaica. The victim was returning from an excursion to swim with dolphins back to the Royal Caribbean ship she had booked for her vacation when the bus she was riding in crashed.

A young boy from Italy was also killed in a vehicle crash while on an excursion from the MSC ship Orchestra.

Cruise_Ship_AccidentAnother passenger, from the Carnival ship Glory died on an excursion while visiting St. Kitts. In this incident, witnesses said the passenger was swimming or diving and experienced distress. An ambulance took over 20 minutes to arrive and the medics were unable to revive the victim, according to witnesses. The excursion may have been booked through the cruise line, but it is not completely clear if that was the case.

Cruise Ship Accidents

People tend to make reasonable assumptions that when they book their trip with a cruise line and spend a very substantial amount of time on board the ship, the cruise line will look after their safety for the entirety of the trip. Sadly, this is not true.

Cruise lines balance safety and security with maximizing profits and cutting costs. A special report by CNN said “You can’t find a cheaper vacation than spending a week on one of these “fun ships.” But the vacation comes with a hidden price. The cruise lines are working their crew members for excessively long hours and paying them extremely low wages.”

Injuries and deaths that happen on cruise ships and on excursions away from cruise ships are far too commonplace to be tolerated, and the law is murky about who may be responsible if there is any negligence or malpractice involved. Some passengers may believe the U.S. government will protect them, but according to a special notice from the Federal Maritime Commission, “It is important to know that the Commission has no authority over: passenger line vessel operations, safety issues, amenities on board vessels, or fare levels.”

So, what is a passenger to do if he or she is injured on a ship or during an excursion away from a ship, but during a scheduled cruise? The same thing every American has the right to do under the 7th Amendment, which is to pursue justice through the court.

Specialized Attorneys

Because of the special and complex nature of laws as they pertain to vessels at sea, there are very few attorneys who understand and practice cruise ship accident and negligence law. The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has been representing the victims of cruise ship accidents for over 20 years, and they are exceptionally qualified to consult on any related issue. Gary and Arleen Lazarus can be reached by calling 954-356-0006 – they will meet and discuss your concerns in complete confidence.

Cruise Ship Crime Statistics and Crime Prevention

We live in an era of instant information. With a simple click we can instantly find a recipe for apple pie or learn Babe Ruth’s lifetime batting average. (It was .342)
In certain instances, like finding information about the cruise ship business, it is difficult to obtain accurate data. The global nature of their ownership and the fact that they operate in international waters makes it difficult.

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has long been the leading legal resource in Florida for people who suffer injuries or loss due to negligence, or are victims of crimes committed aboard a cruise ship. Attorneys at Lazarus and Lazarus are experts in maritime & international law and have the experience to protect the rights of victims and seek compensation for damages in this complex legal arena.

Everyone knows the best medicine is preventive medicine, and that concept of prevention should pertain to crime as well. The website crimedoctor.com has prepared a common sense guide to Cruise Ship Security, and the main topics include:

• Beware of Your Luggage • Cabin Security • Stay in Public Areas • Have a Family Security Plan • Laws May Not Protect You

This is an excellent reference to read and follow if you are going on a cruise – the full text is here. Crime Doctor

Crime statistics for cruise ships are gathered by our own Coast Guard, and are as accurate as possible.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010 prescribes security and safety requirements for most cruise ships that embark and disembark in the United States. The Act mandates that reports of criminal activity be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Per the Act, the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for posting via internet portal cruise line reporting statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

U.S. Coast Guard crime reports are available here. US Coast Guard

Five sexual assault cases are quite disturbing, and note that only thefts over $10,000 are reported, so it seems reasonable to assume that many small thefts occur. Vigilance and common sense apply when preventing theft of personal property.

Overall, cruise ships are great places to take a vacation and we never intend to frighten people away from enjoying trips at sea. We are concerned about traveler safety, and this is why we are proud to be a resource for information that will keep passengers safe. Cruise ship owners and operators must make every effort to insure their vessels are safe.

Near-Drowning Raises Cruise Ship Safety Concerns

A tragic near-drowning incident this past weekend aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has left a 4-year-old boy in critical condition at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida hospital. While the event is still being investigated, it is important to note that most cruise ships do not have lifeguards on duty and that personal safety on a cruise ship is not guaranteed.

Unfortunately, this tragedy follows other drowning and near-drowning incidents which have occurred on cruise ships in recent years.

News reports are @ the Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald.

People on vacation at sea are understandably relaxed and looking forward to having fun. It is reasonable and proper for passengers to assume that a large cruise liner owned by a multi-billion-dollar corporation would place passenger safety above everything else, but that is not always the case. Media reports concerning accidents, crimes committed by passengers and crew, medical malpractice by ship medical staff, food poisoning, and illnesses caused by germs & viruses aboard cruise ships are common.

Forbes magazine reported in April, 2014 on 8 separate virus outbreaks aboard cruise ships in just 3 months. Market Watch published a list of “10 Things Cruise Lines Won’t Tell You” that may interest future cruise passengers. While we do not intend to frighten people who are considering a trip on a cruise ship, we are concerned about passenger rights and the major cruise line corporation’s commitment to and responsibility for safety.

Laws governing responsibility for incidents that occur at sea are complex and ever-changing, so there are not many lawyers who are experts in this area. International law, maritime law, U.S. laws, and local laws can combine to create a hodgepodge of different jurisdictions that would confuse almost anyone. The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has reserved and maintains a special part of their practice to represent and protect the rights of victims who suffer injury, harm, or death aboard cruise ships.

Passengers have a reasonable expectation to be safe when traveling on cruise ships. If you or someone you know has been injured or harmed in any way while on a cruise, it is important to understand that victims have rights. The attorneys at Lazarus and Lazarus have been handling these cases for many years, and they are available to listen to your story and take appropriate action when you contact them at 954-356-0006.

Critical Court Decision Says Cruise Lines Open to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

A wise man once said “Assumptions are dangerous things to make.”

We assume a lot. When we take a trip aboard a multi-million dollar cruise ship for example, we assume we are safe from accidents and that we would receive exceptional medical care should we become ill. That is not entirely accurate.

Maritime medical malpractice have languished in limbo for many years, with victims grasping for ways to sue negligent physicians and other healthcare professionals employed on cruise ships. But a decision on Monday, November 10, 2014 by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 11th Circuit in Atlanta says cruise lines should not be immune from lawsuits alleging medical malpractice. See the decision here: USCourts.gov

Cruise lines have enjoyed immunity from many types of negligent actions for years, and this decision is truly historic. Because most laws affecting negligence are state statutes, they only pertain to events which occur within the boundaries of the state.

One of the key portions of the decision, written by Justice Stanley Marcus, states, in part:
“…..we now confront state of the art cruise ships that house thousands of people and operate as floating cities, complete with well-stocked modern infirmaries and urgent care centers. In place of truly independent doctors and nurses, we must now acknowledge that medical professionals routinely work for corporate masters. And whereas ships historically went ‘off the grid’ when they set sail, modern technology enables distant ships to communicate instantaneously with the mainland in meaningful ways.”

Negligence, injuries, liability, accidents, or medical malpractice occurring at sea or on foreign soil are unique, and a victim should seek the advice of an expert attorney in the area of cruise ship negligence.

Cruise Ship Negligence and Medical Malpractice are two areas of special focus for the Law Office of Lazarus and Lazarus. Gary and Arleen Lazarus have been guarding the rights of victims of sickness and injuries sustained on cruise ships for over 20 years. Their experience in south Florida and their knowledge of maritime and malpractice law has gained them sterling reputations in the area of cruise ship negligence.

A phone call to 954-356-0006 will put you in touch with attorneys Gary and Arleen, and their caring, experienced staff. They will be happy to listen to your story and recommend the best course of action for your specific situation.