Common Tourist Ocean Injuries
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Wayne D. Parsons with Wayne Parsons Law Office.
The ocean can be a great place to vacation, but it is important to exercise additional caution whenever you find yourself spending time near or on the water. The ocean can be unpredictable, and aside from the inherent risks associated with water, if a vessel or cruise ship is not prepared and properly maintained at all times, accidents can happen. A specific set of laws apply to injuries that happen in or on the water. Any kind of lawsuit or claim brought forward as a result of injury or another issue is referred to as a maritime or admiralty claim.
Maritime law, also referred to as admiralty law, involves the laws as well as any past cases that concern legal disputes that have originated on what are regarded as navigable waters. Generally, navigable waters are considered any waters used for foreign or interstate commerce within the United States. Cruise line injuries are among the most common tourist injuries, especially among those that occur on the water. If you or a loved one were injured while on a cruise, reach out to a maritime lawyer as soon as possible.
Common injuries sustained by tourists on the ocean:
- Slip and falls
- Trip and falls
- Gangway accidents
- Tender boat accidents (accidents that occur while ferrying passengers to and from land)
- Automatic door accidents
- Drowning accidents
- Pool accidents
- Shore excursion accidents
- Food poisoning
- Unsecured items or cargo accidents
- Broken railings/ladder accidents
- Sexual assault
Seek medical care in the ship’s infirmary.
Large vessels such as cruise lines contain infirmaries in which people can seek immediate treatment for an injury. Regardless of the severity of the injury, it is important to seek medical right away, even if you are still on the water. This ensures that your health is treated as a priority from the get-go, and should also ensure the existence of an official incident record detailing what happened.
Don’t sign anything.
It is important to remember in any situation where you are hurt and someone else might be considered liable, to refrain from signing or agreeing to anything. This can include signing paperwork, giving statements, or engaging in any other kind of affirmation that might waive the negligent party’s liability over the incident.
Report the injury immediately, even if you are still on the water.
It is important to note that in any injury case, the clock starts ticking as soon as the injury is sustained. Every personal injury case has a statute of limitations or window of time in which a person must take legal action or forfeit the right to legal recourse; for most maritime personal injury cases, this window is three years, but due to the long waiting periods often involved in legal proceedings, it is important to begin the process right away.
Even if you are still on the cruise or on the water, it is important to contact the United States Coast Guard to give a detailed report about the incident. In most cases this will result in an investigation of the ship to see if any safety protocols were violated, resulting in the injury. It may also be prudent to report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); if a United States citizen is aboard the ship, the FBI has jurisdiction to come aboard and investigate.
Don’t wait until you are docked.
You do not have to wait until you have returned from your vacation to seek legal help. Maritime lawyers can help begin the investigation and process of filing a claim while you are still on the water. In fact, contacting a lawyer while you are still on the ship may have some unexpected benefits; a maritime lawyer can advise you regarding what kind of evidence to gather aboard the ship in order to prove your injury. In most cases, this involves requesting a copy of your medical records, any incident reports, as well as collecting pictures and witness testimonies from the scene of the injury.
If you or a loved one were injured on an ocean vacation, reach out to a maritime attorney to learn about your options for physical and financial recovery.