Injured on the Ocean as a Tourist: Where to File?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of John H. (Jack) Hickey with Hickey Law Firm.
Cruise ship and other tourist injuries are not uncommon. While thankfully many of these injuries can be mitigated and even prevented with proper attention to safety, if someone suffers a significant injury while on the ocean due to the negligence of another party, a maritime injury claim may present an avenue for recovery. While an ocean injury case has many similarities to a personal injury case that occurs on land, there are important differences as well.
Maritime or “admiralty” law governs any disputes or injuries which arise while on navigable waters, and maritime law often involves stricter regulations which can add to the urgency of the claims process. Additionally, the location where a claim needs to be filed is often highly specific and may be difficult to identify without the help of a maritime injury attorney. If you or a loved one were injured on the ocean, reach out to a maritime law attorney to discuss your options for physical and financial recovery.
A maritime injury claim will usually need to be filed in the port city from which the cruise departed.
In the United States, this means that many maritime injury claims need to be filed somewhere in Florida. However, any state connected to a body of navigable water could be subject to this rule. If you are unsure where exactly to file a maritime injury claim, looking at the cruise ship or activity ticket is a good way to find out where you will likely need to file. Reaching out to a maritime law attorney in the area you believe you may need to file is a good way to speed along the process; these attorneys will generally offer free consultations and help direct you to the right attorney if it turns out that you need to file elsewhere.
You do not need to wait until you are docked against to contact a maritime law attorney.
It’s important to remember with any personal injury case that the clock starts ticking when the injury is sustained or should reasonably have been noticed. While the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim can vary from state to state, the statute of limitations for maritime injuries is three years. When you take into account the time it takes to investigate, collect evidence, and file a claim, it’s important to seek legal recourse in a timely manner if that is your decision.
There is a common misconception that passengers aboard a cruise ship or participating in ocean tourism need to wait until they are docked or have returned home to contact an attorney; this is not the case. In fact, a maritime law attorney may be able to advise you in regard to what kind of evidence might be present for you to collect immediately or soon after the injury while still aboard the ship.
Some of the most common injuries sustained by tourists on the ocean include:
- Slip and falls or 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
Depending on the injury, it may be more or less difficult to prove, but it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Even injuries that seem minor at first deserve immediate medical attention; some symptoms may take days or even weeks to become symptomatic, but waiting to seek medical treatment can actually have a negative impact on your case further down the road.
To learn more about maritime injury cases or for help figuring out where to file after an ocean injury, reach out to a maritime law attorney.