24 April 2024

Cruise Ship Accidents – How Gorvins Solicitors Can Help!

Gorvins Solicitors


Gorvins Solicitors
This is the time of year that many people start to think about booking a holiday and Cruises are more popular than ever.
UK Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
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This is the time of year that many people start to think about booking a holiday and Cruises are more popular than ever.

A holiday on a cruise ship should be relaxing, exciting and safe and, for most guests, that is the case. The cruise industry spends millions each year to ensure that their passengers have a wonderful time on the water and at various ports of call. However, accidents on cruise ships can and do happen and can lead to serious injuries that not only ruin the enjoyment of your trip, but may lead to pain and suffering for many weeks, months or even years after you disembark.

Common accidents

There are various types of accidents that can occur on cruise ships which can lead to a claim for personal injuries. The most common types of passenger accidents include:-

  • Falling objects – the movement of the ship and/or the sea conditions can cause problems with falling objects that have not been properly secured.
  • Slips, Trips and Falls – passengers can suffer an accident even before they leave port. Gangway injuries may occur as passengers embark or disembark. Slips and trips are common, in particular tripping up on stairways and near swimming pools. Over-polished decks can become slippery and lead to falls, particularly in wet weather.
  • Faulty Equipment – accidents include mechanical defects with the ship itself as well as any equipment available for passengers to use.
  • Food Poisoning – because of poor hygiene practices aboard ship.

How does the law differ?

The law involved in making an injury claim for an accident on board a ship is different to the law that applies to an accident that occurs at a hotel or a resort. Both Tour Operators and Cruise Lines are bound by the Regulations set out in the Athens Convention 1974 which concerns the carriage of passengers by sea and covers liability of a carrier to a passenger for death and personal injury and for loss and damage to luggage.

The Athens Convention will apply whether you were travelling on a ship, ferry or any other form of seafarer. The Regulations state that operators of sea going vessels owe a duty of care in the carriage of passengers by sea and to passengers getting on and off the boat. Accidents at a hotel or resort are covered by the Package Travel Regulations 1992 and/or the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.

What can you claim for?

The Athens Convention allows you to claim for any injury or loss that happened while you were on the cruise ship. Some examples of injuries and illnesses on a cruise ship that could result in a personal injury claims either by passengers or crew include:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns from hot drink spills
  • Food poisoning
  • Food allergy allergic reaction
  • Concussion injury
  • Soft tissue damage such as strains, sprains and tears
  • Cuts, bruises and lacerations.

In additional to physical injury, you may be entitled to claim compensation for psychological trauma, loss of earnings, damaged clothing/personal effects, mobility aids, private medical costs and the value of care and assistance provided by family members or friends during your period of rehabilitation.

What steps you should take in the event of an accident.

If you have an accident on a cruise ship, it is important to obtain evidence in support of your claim before you disembark as this will help prove your claim. You should take the following steps:-

  • Report the accident to a member of staff straight away and ask for a copy of the Accident Report Form.
  • Obtain details of any witnesses who saw or heard the accident:
  • Seek medical treatment for your injuries from either the onboard doctor or local hospital.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene as soon as possible, preferably before the cause of the accident is removed.
  • Ask for a copy of any camera footage. This should be done quickly as CCTV footage is not usually kept for very long.
  • It is also important to document all of your accident-related expenses and losses, eg medical examinations, x-rays, treatment and prescription medication, traveling expenses etc.

Why is it important to seek legal advice quickly?

Another important difference to remember is that usually you have 3 years from the date of the accident in which to make a personal injury claim. However, when the accident or injury occurs on a boat or ship, the limitation period is only 2 years. Accordingly, the claim must either be settled or proceedings issued before the expiry of the 2 year anniversary of the accident. It is important to note that the discretion to extend time under the Limitation Act 1980 does not apply to the Athens Convention limit. It is therefore important to seek professional advice as soon as possible.

This is a complex area of law. It is therefore important to seek professional advice from a Solicitor as soon as possible if you are looking to pursue a cruise ship claim.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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