Cruise Ship Passenger Disappearances & Falling Overboard

Cruise ship passenger disappearances and passengers falling overboard unfortunately occur. Passengers disappear and are lost overboard for a number of reasons for which a cruise line can be held accountable. Having previously represented cruise ship companies for 19 years, the board certified maritime attorneys at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak are in a unique position to help in the event of an accident or crime resulting in a cruise ship passenger disappearance or loss of a loved one overboard. With offices in Miami, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas, the lawyers at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak are here to serve the families left behind and hold a negligent cruise line responsible for a passenger who disappears or is lost overboard. Cruise ship passenger disappearances can occur many different ways including:

  • Inadequate or defective handrails;
  • Intoxication from being over served alcohol in the ship’s bars and lounges;
  • Failing to warn of rough seas;
  • Violent actions of the ship’s crew members or other passengers; and,
  • Failure to perform adequate rescue operations.

The board certified maritime attorneys at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak are experienced with assessing if a cruise line is liable for passengers falling overboard or disappearing.

Q: Is the Cruise Line Liable for Passengers Falling Overboard or Disappearing?
A: Very Possibly.

Cruise lines have been accountable for passengers falling overboard or disappearing in a variety of ways. Below, some of the common ways a cruise line may be held liable are explained.

Inadequate or Defective Handrails

Obviously a passenger could easily fall off a cruise ship if the handrails are of an inadequate height or are defective. In fact, Congress recently passed the Cruise Safety Act of 2010 which requires all cruise ships calling on U.S. Port to have handrails no less than 42 inches above the cabin deck by January 2012. Therefore, if the cruise ship is outfitted with inadequate or defective handrails, the cruise line may be found negligent for a passenger falling overboard or disappearing.

Intoxication

Another cause attributable to passengers falling overboard or disappearing is intoxication. Cruise lines have the duty to not serve their passengers alcohol to the point of intoxication. Should a passenger become intoxicated, the cruise line then has the duty to protect the passenger from his/her (albeit self-imposed) disability. If the cruise line fails to carry its duty, it will be liable for the passenger’s disappearance and/or damages associated with the passenger falling overboard.

Failing to Warn of Rough Conditions

Cruise lines are obligated to warn their passengers of known dangers or dangers for which it should have known. In the context of disappearances or passengers falling overboard, this duty usually arises when the ship is expected to encounter rough seas. Often times at sea, weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly. Nearly all cruise ships are equipped with state of the art weather radar and have access to forecasts and conditions for the areas they are sailing. As such, the “deck officers” know when the ship is about to cruise into rough seas where the passengers (who are enjoying their vacations) do not. Consequently, cruise lines are obligated to warn of approaching storms and the dangers of being near the rails during rough seas. If a cruise line fails to warn of such approaching dangers, it may be held liable for passengers who fall overboard during the storm.

Violent Actions of Crew Members

Passenger disappearance may also be as a result of violent actions of the cruise ship’s crew members. Cruise lines have the absolute to duty to protect their passengers against physical assaults by crew members. As such, should a passenger be pushed overboard by a crew member, the cruise line will be liable even if the crew member had no history of violent behavior.

Violent Actions of Fellow Passengers

Cruise lines may also be responsible for disappearances caused by the violent actions of its passengers. However, unlike the violent actions of their crew members for which the cruise line is strictly liable, a cruise line will only be liable if it could have anticipated the violent activity of the other passenger and could have prevented the injury.

Duty to Perform Adequate Rescue Operations

Once a missing passenger is reported, the cruise line has a duty to perform a reasonable search and rescue operation. Should the cruise line fail to conduct a search and rescue operation or performs such an operation in an inadequate way, it will be liable for the death or further injury of the passenger.

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais, Brais & Rusak have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach our lawyers you may click email the firm, call 1-800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.


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