On September 3, a 34-year-old man who fell off a Carnival cruise ship was later rescued by a Disney cruise ship about 30 miles off the coast of Port St. Lucie, Florida. According to a story by InjuryBoard.com, the man was aboard the Carnival Sensation and was treading water for about an hour and a half. The Disney Wonder and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to notification that the man had gone overboard and the man was rescued at about 12:45 a.m.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office determined that the man jumped off the boat from a stateroom balcony, according to MyFoxOrlando. One passenger said that they heard the man arguing with a woman, threatening to jump, shortly before he fell overboard. The Carnival ship stopped, and the crew attempted to send a rescue vessel, but it tipped over. The man was eventually brought back to Port Canaveral. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Injury Board reports that Carnival has had eight people go overboard this year, and 38 since 2000, which is the most of any cruise line, according to Ross Klein, who runs the Cruise Junkie website. Incidents such as this are not uncommon to cruise lines. Last year, ABC News reported on a Florida woman, Jennifer Ellis Seitz, fell over the balcony of the Norwegian Pearl on Christmas night. A week later, an employee of the Carnival Sensation went overboard off the coast of Florida.
An expert also told ABC that in 2008, 16.8 million people took cruises, with 11 million being Americans. The concern is that most of these accidents occur on large commercial ships which carry thousands of people onboard. As ticket prices go down and trips become more popular and more available to younger guests, issues with excessive drinking and lack of supervision and safety become a great concern. However, cruise lines have responded with security cameras and increased training for personnel on board.
Cruising is especially an important issue in Florida, with its many ports in Tampa, Miami, and Canaveral, among others, and availability of cruises from all the major lines such as Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Because all cruise lines are not impervious to accidents, groups such as International Cruise Victims have formed to aid cruise victims by pushing for legislation and providing a forum for discussion and reporting on cruise accidents.
It is important to note that the handling of Cruise Ship Cases is a specialized area of Personal Injury Law. Most personal injury attorneys do not handle these cases on a regular basis and as such are not aware of the specific laws concerning cruise ship negligence cases. For example, in a typical personal Injury or negligence case, pursuant to Florida Stautes an injured party has four years from the date of injury in which to pursue his claim in a court of law. On the other hand, in a Cruise Ship negligence claim, the passenger ticket is viewed as a valid contract and contains a clause which places limits on the time and place of an injured passenger’s claim for injury. Pursuant to contract, an injured passenger has only one year from the date of injury in which to file a claim in a court of law for their injuries and most passenger ticket contracts also mandate that any lawsuit for personal injury must be filed in a specific forum; which is usually Miami Federal Court. Our firm is fully aware of the intricasies of cruise ship cases and has successfully represented numerous clients who have been injured in cruise ship accidents in the Miami Federal Court System.