Cruise ship accident claims

Thousands of UK holidaymakers indulge and relax on cruise ship holidays every year. It should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but they can easily be ruined by injury or illness.

Whenever you embark on a cruise, the crew, cruise carrier and tour operator have a duty of care to you as a passenger. Unfortunately, they don’t always protect people from the risk of accidents – and cruise ship claims are not uncommon.

Accidents do happen at sea. There are a number of ways that passengers and crew can be injured, but cruise ship accidents at sea often happen while people are getting on or off the vessel. The most common injuries are caused by slips, trips or falling objects. Fortunately, more severe incidents like the Costa Concordia disaster are a rarity.

Sometimes, illness can strike and ruin what was meant to be the holiday of your dreams. With thousands of people in close proximity all sharing the same eating and leisure facilities, outbreaks of illness are not uncommon on cruise liners. Viruses and illnesses can spread quickly and easily throughout the ship.

If an illness outbreak does occur, it’s the carrier’s responsibility to ensure that proper hygiene measures and precautions are put in place to contain it and minimise the risk of illness.

Our experienced cruise ship accident lawyers have successfully taken group actions on behalf of many different passengers who contracted an illness during their cruise.

These can be caused by food poisoning, salmonella, a ‘norovirus’ or other harmful bacteria, leaving sufferers with the following symptoms:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches and fever
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting

If you’ve fallen ill on board a ferry, boat or cruise ship, you may be entitled to claim compensation. The settlement could include the cost of the holiday, any additional costs incurred (e.g. treatment, medication, loss of earnings) and will take into account your pain and suffering.

Having successfully launched claims against a number of well-known tour and cruise operators, our cruise ship accident lawyers are extremely experienced in this field.

Any accident which causes injury, illness or the death of a loved one could mean that you are entitled to compensation. This applies whether you were working on board or on holiday.

What the law says about cruise ship claims

To pursue a cruise ship claim, it is the responsibility of you as a passenger to prove that the incident which gave rise to the injury or illness occurred during the voyage – and was caused by the fault or negligence of the ship’s carrier, crew or agents.

If you are injured or become ill during a cruise, the cruise carrier is liable under the Athens Convention and may have to process any claim against them under the terms of your holiday contract.  It is governed under English law by the Athens Convention 1974, which has been in force in the UK since 1996 (following the Merchant Shipping Act 1995).

The Convention applies to international carriage by sea when:

  • The departure port and the place of destination are different
  • The departure port and destination are the same, but there is also a port of call in a different country

The Athens Convention states that a carrier is liable for any damage or loss suffered by a passenger if the incident which caused it occurred during the course of the journey and was due to the neglect or fault of the carrier.

Because this is a complex area of law, there are other rules which apply. If you are injured because of a vessel’s defect, following an explosion, a collision, shipwreck or capsizing, you will not need to prove fault because strict liability should apply.

If you have an accident whilst on an organised excursion when at a port of call, it is possible to make a claim but they are much more complex and it does depend on the circumstances.

Where will my claim be heard?

When making a compensation claim for personal injury or death under the Athens Convention, the case is usually heard in the country which is most favourable to you. If you live in England, you could pursue a claim in the English courts even if the cruise departed from another country.  However, careful consideration needs to be given to the booking documents and expert legal advice is often required.

How long do I have to make a claim?

The time limits for making a claim can vary depending on the circumstances of each incident and whether the Athens Convention applies. Claims under the Athens Convention must be made within two years from the date you disembarked the ship.

What can I claim for?

Cruise ship accident claims always take into account the cost of your ruined holiday and any expenses you incurred as a result.

If your injury or illness left you unable to work, the claim can include any lost earnings and any expenses for future medical care. Your pain and suffering would also be taken into consideration when settlement is reached.

The cruise ship claims process explained

After getting in touch with us, one of our cruise ship lawyers will discuss your case in detail and try to establish all the facts. They will then advise you about the strength of your claim for compensation.

You are entitled to complain directly to the cruise company, but the amount of damages which can be recovered is often far higher when you have legal representation.

If we think you should pursue a claim, we’ll try to negotiate a settlement with the third party and advise you whether to accept the offer. If necessary, we will issue court proceedings but many cases are settled before it comes to this.

By offering a “no-win, no-fee” (conditional fee) agreement, you can concentrate on your recovery whilst we progress your claim.  Provided that you fully assist us with your claim by providing regular and reliable instructions, we promise to provide the best level of customer service and secure justice for you.

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