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Accident Law Blog | Cruise Ship Accidents | Los Angeles Cruise Ship Personal Injury

Six Year Old Drowns on Carnival Cruise

Cruise shipAccording to a statement from Carnival Cruise Lines, a six-year-old boy drowned on the last day of a four-day Caribbean cruise at one of the ship’s pools, while with his family. These pool injury cases are typical of the cases we take at Ehline Law Firm, so I felt obligated to shed some light on the potential claims possible by the surviving family.

The Facts:

Have You Seen The Video Footage?

KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

After arriving at a port in Miami, the Miami-Dade Police Department identified the boy as Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Florida. According to Miami-Dade investigators, Hunter was swimming with his ten-year-old brother when the incident occurred. Passengers around the pool immediately pulled him out and began CPR.

Police have said that foul play is not suspected, but the six-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. Victory ship passenger Shaina Shaw stated that she along with several other passengers helped in pulling the boy out of the pool. Shaw said the boy had been playing with his mother, father and older brother in the shallow end of the pool.

No Guards at the Pool? What?

Another passenger identified as Deshaun Christian said people were listening to music and dancing when the incident occurred. Christian said that it was frightening and people were trying to help the child. The Carnival Cruise ship Victory left from the Port of Miami on Thursday and returned to port on Monday.

Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman Joyce Oliva stated the cruise line company does not have lifeguards on duty at the pools aboard their vessels. She said that adults must accompany children under 13 when swimming in the ship’s pools.

What is The Law?

Here, the case will be handled under international admiralty-maritime law, treaty, and contract. Typically one would retain a cruise ship attorney in Florida when suing Carnival to learn all the nuances and time restrictions. Suffice it to say; a cruise ship lawsuit is an animal all its own.

  • If you want to sue a cruise line, you have to look at the passage contract
  • Typically a passenger or the survivor would have no more than six months to send a written claim to the Cruise Line Corporation listed in the passage contract.
  • Once that is done, you may be able to bring a lawsuit in either Federal or State court.
  • If you sue in California, it would be pursued under ordinary negligence principles.

Assuming that was the case here, the Christian family would argue that a reasonable cruise line would have additional security to enforce swimming pool safety. This should be the case regardless of whether they ply passengers, including parents, with alcohol until they can’t walk.

Also, there were distractions like loud music and dancing near the pool. Since children were present, the cruise lines should have had lifeguard type protection in any event. Additionally, cruise ships are common carriers under customary California negligence law.

Heightened Duty of Care?

This rule means that cruise ships and their controllers are subject to a heightened duty of care beyond just the standard, the regular duty of care an average person would be submitted to. For example, a school teacher is in a superior position to a child and would have a “special duty” of care not to molest a child. A lawyer has a special duty of attention not to reveal client secrets and so on.

That being the case, the cruise ship had a special duty of care akin to strict liability, meaning that the cruise ship would have no defenses available and the case would be about damages.

Damages for Death?

The surviving family members will base their damages claims upon the financial resources the child would have contributed to them, and the loss of love, affection and everything else that comes with losing someone in such a tragic way. But DOSHA offers cruise lines even further protection from responsibility for their misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance.

In fact, if a child is killed, since they are not a wage earner, the parents are severely limited in their recovery. This is because they may not even be able to claim damages. The problem is that most parents are clueless as to these laws before they board. Would you let your child on a cruise if you knew about this scandalous nonsense? The bottom line is that a cruise line can attract children to a nuisance like an unsecured pool, and escape paying.

But Ehline has successfully argued that a cruise line cannot submit to state law, and then hide behind treaties and maritime law. So the risks for both sides can come into play, instead of all the cards. Ehline would argue that the cruise lines submitted to California law, that DOSHA was a law passed in the ’20s to apply to fisherman, and that should not apply here. How the judge rules are usually based upon who makes the best argument.

DOSHA Claims.

As for adults, the problem is that if the court rules for the cruise lines, the unwary victim does not recover pain, suffering, grief, or mourning if the decedent passed away outside of the territorial waters of the U.S. DOSHA provides only limited financial damages, such as lost wages.

When the cruise lines choose the jurisdiction and venue, they must submit to the rules of the case. That is why a lawyer who gets this stuff is so critical to moving the case forward favorably.

The stories I hear from victims of cruise ship injuries are utterly wretched, and I look forward to lobbying in DC for more cruise ship legislation. Cruise lines create a party-like environment of intoxication on a moving ship that rocks back and forth. People who are wasted get thrown about all the time!

Life Jackets.

This family could certainly argue that the children should have been given life jackets and that lifeguards should have been provided. The cruise line may counter that the parents are responsible for failing to supervise, but again, the last duty of care was with the cruise ship. I would fight hard for this family.

  • Sexual Attacks

For years, women and even children have been sexually assaulted onboard cruise ships but often the cruise industry has failed to report the crime and in fact, actively assisted in covering up assaults by cruise ship employees.

Often the FBI is not informed, or when told, may not consider these to be substantive cases. So that leaves it to attorneys like me to see that justice gets served. If you want to learn more about cruise ship passenger’s rights, contact Ehline Law Firm and Support the Strengthened Cruise Ship Bill of Rights.

Citations:

Formal Safety and Cruise Ship Drowning:
Facts About Life Jackets and Personal Floatation Devices: http://www.pfdma.org/local/downloads/documents/pfdmabrochure.pdf

 

Recent Court Case and Cruise Ship Liability Problems for Passengers

Cruise ship on the blue ocean.
Is cruise ship going aground?

Surprisingly cruise ships and the cruise ship companies have been exempt from certain types of negligence like those that occur in hospital settings resulting in patients or their families being entitled to recover compensation.

The compensation is generally for medical expenses and pain and suffering. But cruise ship companies have been an exception for medical malpractice lawsuits. A recent decision by the Florida 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may change the way cruise ship lawsuits are decided.

What Is the Court’s Ruling?

The Florida 11th Court of Appeals ruled that the exemption for medical malpractice lawsuits was outdated involving cruise ships. The case involved an 82-year-old-year-old man, a New York resident that fell and stuck his head in Bermuda in 2011 while on a Royal Caribbean cruise. The nurse attending the man aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship told the man to rest.

The family of the man claims the nurse did not suggest the man have a diagnostic scan done. And it took hours before the ship’s doctor saw the man. During that period his condition became worse. The lawsuit states the man had internal bleeding in the skull by the time the doctor saw him and succumbed to the head injury.

The Royal Caribbean medical staff wore the same uniforms as other ship employees, and the medical staff was advertised as craft employees, and in promotional material, they were paid a tribute.


What the New Court Ruling Could Mean

If the decision of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals is upheld, then it is possible for plaintiff’s alleging malpractice occurred on cruise ships to have their cases heard in court in the state of Florida (Read more.) In a statement by a Royal Caribbean representative, they claim the rules that have applied in the past should be upheld.

They disagree with the new ruling by the Court of Appeals. This rule is based on the factor that the cruise line offers vacations. A vacation is not primarily to provide health care for passengers so they argue.

Common Defense Used in Medical Cases

Defense in medical malpractice lawsuits occurring aboard cruise ships has commonly been rendered not the best in rulings by courts. In other words, the medical care provided to passengers on a boat is different than the scope of attention to be paid on land. Meaning, according to this type of ruling, passengers should not expect to receive the same standard of care onboard a luxury liner as they do from their private physicians.

What About the Missing Passengers?

While health care onboard cruise ships is a concern and the new ruling by the Court of Appeals could make a difference in how future cases are looked at by courts, another problem that has grown from this, is the incidence of missing passengers.

These are passengers and crew members that have fallen overboard ships, since as early as 2000. According to CruiseJunkie.com, there have been:

  • 244 passengers and crew that have fallen overboard; and,
  • Approximately 20 passengers annually that have gone missing from the ships.

What Do The Cruise Ship Lawyers have to Say?

Our attorneys believe that no matter where doctors and nurses are employed they do have the duty to provide the best care possible for patients, even on cruise ships. Contact the maritime law firm here, or call toll free at (213) 596-9642 to learn what your legal options are and the best way to proceed.

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Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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