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What is Cruise Ship Liability Law?

What is Cruise Ship Liability Law?

This Shaked Law Firm article covers cruise ship liability. What is liability? Who is at-fault? Personal Injury lawyers must have experience in Maritime Law!

What is cruise ship liability?

Whether traveling by air, land, or sea, it’s not often we stop to think about the possibility of something going wrong while traveling. Accidents can happen anywhere. Sometimes hotels fail to keep guests safe. It’s in these cases that accidents happen due to the negligence of another. These are instances where accidents occur and we are not at-fault. In such cases, when injuries occur, another party is liable.

Accidents which fall under “liability”, are what Personal Injury attorneys know to be more difficult than others due to the high burden of proof necessary. When it comes to cruise ships, one thing is certain: if the lawyer lacks experience in accidents that occur on-board a ship, it can kill a case.

What is cruise ship liability?

The laws surrounding cruise ships are difficult for lawyers who lack experience to fully understand. Litigation can become a complex and expensive after sustaining injuries on-board a cruise. Lawyers with Board Certification will know how to litigate such cases, and whether mediation or trial will be necessary to proceed. When a young lawyer takes on a cruise ship liability claim, the process may become a literal “ship wreck”.

Now, what makes a cruise ship liability claim so complex? Here’s the short answer: cruise ship passengers are told that they must file any accident claims in regards to recovering damages based on the state that’s indicated on the back of their ticket. This is because the cruise ship’s registration is not normally within the United States. This practice is in place due to the safety regulations in countries such as the Bahamas becoming less stringent. This is not a safe practice, but it’s the practice that’s currently in place. As a result, a Personal Injury lawyer must have a great deal of knowledge surrounding Maritime Law.

What is the difference between hotel, airline, and cruise ship liability?

Where hotel and airline liability are fairly concise in requirements for a favorable outcome, cruise ship liability is murkier. This is due to dealing with Maritime Law or “admiralty law”. Common carriers (rail, bus, airline, and cruise ships) must uphold a reasonable duty of care for passengers. There is no exception to this law. In the event of negligence on the part of a cruise ship, maritime law states that the cruise operator will be liable for any passenger injuries resulting from “willful actions”.

For those unfamiliar with this legal terminology, let’s provide a quick analysis of several terms.

The dictionary definitions regarding cruise ship liability are as follows:
  • Willful actions. Referring to acts which are intentional, conscious and directed toward achieving a purpose. Some willful conduct which has wrongful or unfortunate results is considered “hardheaded,” “stubborn” and even “malicious.” Example: “The defendant’s attack on his neighbor was willful.” ¹
  • Maritime law. Also called “admiralty law” or “the law of admiralty,” the laws and regulations, including international agreements and treaties, which exclusively govern activities at sea or in any navigable waters. In the United States, federal courts have jurisdiction over maritime law.²

Florida lays out their state statutes for water vessels and regularly updates with changes to the law.

What is the insurance company’s responsibility toward those traveling on cruise ships?

The best Personal Injury lawyers are familiar with Maritime Law, despite not necessarily using it “often”. You see, while it may not be an area of law required daily, top lawyers familiarize themselves regardless. This is so in the event they need to litigate a cruise ship claim, they’re ready. The best lawyers prepare early and often.

An understanding of Maritime Law helps the lawyer when it comes to taking on the insurance company. Victims who attempt to navigate the legal system alone will find themselves being bullied by the insurance company and ultimately, it may cost them the compensation they rightfully deserved. Insurance companies use deceitful practices to keep victims from seeking compensation pain and suffering. It’s all about their bottom line. The insurance company is not a friend!

Insurance companies want cruise ship accident victims to believe no compensation is available because the ship lacks US registration. Sadly, for many accident victims, this is enough for them to give up. However, this is not true, and the best course of action is to quickly consult with a law firm that understands Maritime Law. Top lawyers want those who sustain injuries on a cruise to know there is compensation available, and not to give up.

What is cruise ship consent?

Those who travel on cruise ships will know that the cruise line’s policies are on the back of the ticket. When purchasing tickets to travel by cruise ship, the passenger is consenting to those policies. There are several “limited liability” waivers that some cruise lines will add in addition to their terms and conditions.

The aforementioned terms may release responsible parties from things such as “mental anguish” and other emotional liability passengers in the event of an accident. However, these terms and conditions in no way releases the cruise line from any physical harm a passenger suffers in the event of negligence due to unsafe practices on-board the ship!

¹ “Legal Dictionary –” Legal Dictionary, 13 March 2020,

² “Legal Dictionary –” Legal Dictionary, 13 March 2020,

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