COVID Pandemic Sees Lawsuits Against Cruise Lines at Tip of Iceberg
Losing a family member is always a moment of sadness and often trauma, but when the family member passes away on vacation it is more so. Every year, there are about 200 deaths on cruise ships. Some of those passengers may have died of natural causes. People who take cruises tend to be older and the cruises can go on for months.
However the COVID-19 pandemic has seen cruise lines particularly hard hit by lawsuits following the pandemic, with some cruises faced lengthy quarantines at sea, and cruise ship operations were suspended from all US ports of call.
Observers have indicated that the lawsuits and class actions taken to date against cruise lines, airlines, insurance companies and both federal and state governments are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to future litigation.
“This early litigation is really, from our vantage point, the tip of the iceberg. The level of litigation could really go into so many different directions,” Harold Kim, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, told USA Today in a recent report.
But of course COVID-19 is not the only reason attributed to cruise line deaths.
Many of the people who die on cruises pass away because of the negligence of the cruise line and some of them have been aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), who have faced a number of lawsuits including investor lawsuits.
In March a shareholder in NCLfiled a stock drop securities class action in the Southern District of Florida, which challenged statements made by NCL on and after February 20, 2020, in which the company allegedly minimized the likely impact of the coronavirus outbreak on NCL’s operations and omitted information regarding allegedly deceptive sales practices that were undertaken after the pandemic broke.
As the Washington Post recently reported, the spate of recent lawsuits against the travel industry has helped passengers facing the wide variety of legal issues they face when travelling and sustaining injury or worse.
How a Cruise Line Can be Responsible for Wrongful Death
Any business has a Duty of Care to its customers. Duty of Care means that each individual has an obligation to take other people’s well-being under consideration. A cruise line may have neglected its duty of care if someone drowned in their swimming pool, ate food from the ship’s kitchen that killed them, or slipped and fell on the deck.
The range of potential injuries and fatalities as a result of negligence is considerable and has also contributed to the surge of lawsuits against cruise lines, just as their popularity – pre-COVID – had surged.
Deaths from Passengers Falling Overboard
Although it does happen, very few passengers fall overboard due to the negligence of the cruise line. when cruise ships are built, every precaution is taken to ensure that people who are supposed to be on the boat stay on board, and those who are not, will not be able to climb aboard. People who fall overboard tend to be engaging in horseplay. Several people a year also commit suicide by throwing themself into the ocean.
There are, however, workers who die or are injured in the line of duty. They may fall overboard if they are asked to perform work that is unsafe.
COVID’s effect on Cruise Ship Wrongful Death Cases
The Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the cruise industry. People have acquired the illness on cruise ships and some have lost their lives because of it. Certainly, their immediate family members could sue the line for wrongful death.
There were several cruise ships that stranded crew members at sea. Not only did some of these workers die from COVID, but several also committed suicide because they had no idea when they were coming back and the company refused to pay for charter flights to get them home safely.
What to do if Your Loved One Was Killed Aboard a Ship
Maritime laws can be somewhat confusing when it comes to personal injury. If you have lost a loved one to a shipboard accident you must hire an attorney in the state out of which the cruise line does business. If you were to file a claim against Norwegian Cruise Lines, you would have to find a lawyer in Miami, Florida because that is where they operate from.
Normally one would have two years to file a wrongful death suit in the Sunshine State, but you may have less time if the accident took place aboard a cruise ship. There are often provisions included in a ticket limiting the number of months a person or their family has to file a suit for personal injury or wrongful death.
The most important thing you need to do when you want to sue a company for wrongful death is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. You can learn more about common Norwegian lawsuits here from Florida-based legal specialists operating in the travel business.
Lipcon Margulies Alsina & Winkleman are maritime accident legal specialists based in Florida. Details about the firm may be seen here.
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