According to a recent news report, federal authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of a fatal sightseeing plane crash that happened during a cruise shore excursion last August. The accident happened in the Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness near Ketchikan, Alaska, and it resulted in the death of the pilot as well as five passengers who had arrived onboard a Holland America Line cruise ship. As Miami cruise ship accident attorney Keith Brais explains, while this accident was particularly tragic, these types of accidents are not uncommon, and families of victims will be entitled to financial compensation in many cases.

When Cruise Shore Excursions Lead to Injuries and Deaths

Investigators still haven’t pinpointed the cause of the fatal sightseeing plane crash in Alaska last August. Reports indicate that the pilot was highly experienced, but also suggest that conditions may have been a factor—with visibility being extremely limited due to low clouds. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it hopes to complete its investigation by mid-summer 2022.

The opportunity to go on shore excursions is a major draw for many cruise ship passengers. Whether sightseeing in Alaska or swimming with sea turtles in the Caribbean, shore excursions offer unique experiences and often create lifelong memories.

But, shore excursions can also be dangerous. Flying in small planes, swimming in open water, bungee jumping, ziplining, riding jet skis and other common shore excursion activities all present risks for serious or fatal injuries. As a result, shore excursion accidents are not uncommon, and many cruise passengers and family members find themselves in need of experienced legal representation.

Determining Fault and Liability in Shore Excursion Accidents

When an accident happens during a shore excursion, determining fault is the first step toward recovering just compensation for your (or your family’s) losses. Even if a governmental authority such as the NTSB or U.S. Coast Guard conducts an investigation, it will be important to engage a Miami cruise ship accident attorney to independently investigate the accident as well.

In most cases, three parties will potentially be at fault for a serious or fatal accident during a shore excursion. These are:

  • The Employee Who Conducts the Excursion – Oftentimes, employees will ignore safety risks or make other mistakes that lead to shore excursion accidents.
  • The Shore Excursion Company – Shore excursion companies may hire inexperienced employees, fail to provide adequate training or supervision, or supply employees and customers with unsafe equipment.
  • The Cruise Line – If a cruise line fails to perform adequate due diligence before recommending a shore excursion to passengers, the cruise line could be deemed at fault in the event of an accident.

Once your Miami cruise ship accident attorney determines who (or what company) was at fault for your injuries or your loved one’s death, then your attorney can determine what company is liable. In most cases, victims of shore excursion accidents and their families will have claims against the shore excursion company, the cruise line or both.

Shore excursion companies can be held liable for their own negligence as well as the negligence of their employees. So, for example, if it is ultimately determined that the pilot in the fatal sightseeing accident in Alaska made a careless mistake by flying into low cloud cover, the victims’ families may have claims against the tour company. Likewise, if the tour company scheduled the flight despite dangerous conditions, or if the plane’s navigation equipment was not functioning properly due to inadequate maintenance, these could give rise to claims against the tour company as well.

Generally speaking, cruise lines are not liable for shore excursion companies’ negligence. The relationship between cruise lines and shore excursion companies is different from the relationship between employers and their employees. However, cruise lines can be held liable for their own negligence—such as recommending a shore excursion company with a poor safety record or failing to conduct adequate research as noted above.

Pursuing a Claim for a Serious or Fatal Shore Excursion Accident

Pursuing a claim for a serious or fatal shore excursion accident presents some unique challenges. One challenge in many cases (though not in the case of the fatal sightseeing plane accident in Alaska) involves pursuing a claim against a foreign company in a foreign country. Different countries have different laws, and many shore excursion companies in remote areas are small outfits that don’t have much (if any) insurance coverage. In these scenarios, it can be especially important to work toward establishing liability on the part of the cruise line.

Investigating shore excursion accidents can prove difficult in many cases as well. The more time that passes, the more difficult conducting an investigation can become. However, one major exception to this is investigating a cruise line for inadequate due diligence. Generally speaking, it should be possible to obtain the cruise line’s records (or prove the lack thereof) even well after an accident occurs. Additionally, if a shore excursion accident happens to involve a defective product, then all parties involved may have an interest in proving that the product’s manufacturer is liable for the accident.

While these may be challenges, these are challenges that an experienced Miami cruise ship accident attorney will be able to overcome in many cases. As a result, regardless of the circumstances involved, anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a shore excursion accident should speak with an attorney about their legal rights as soon as possible. The financial and non-financial costs of these accidents can be devastating, and filing a successful claim can be essential for moving on.

Request a Free Consultation with a Miami Cruise Ship Accident Attorney

If you need to know more about filing a claim for a serious or fatal accident during a cruise shore excursion, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Brais Law Firm. Call 800-499-0551 or contact us online to request an appointment with a Miami cruise ship accident attorney today.

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