What Happens in Cruise Ship Arbitration?
When you buy a ticket for a cruise, you agree to various terms and conditions. On most cruise lines, these terms and conditions include consent to binding arbitration. While most cruise passengers never have to worry about what this means, if you’ve been injured on a cruise, your ticket’s arbitration provision could have a significant impact on your legal rights. Cruise ship accident lawyer Keith Brais explains.
What Is Arbitration?
We’ll start by discussing what it means to go to arbitration. Typically, when you get injured in an accident that is someone else’s fault (or a company’s fault), you have the right to sue in court. Personal injury laws allow accident victims to file claims for negligence, and accident victims can take their claims to trial if necessary. As a practical matter, most personal injury claims settle through insurance, but the right to go to court is there in case you need it.
Arbitration is an alternative to going to court. It is generally faster and less expensive than going to court, and, as a result, it is theoretically better for both parties. But, practically speaking, companies like cruise lines often use mandatory arbitration clauses as a form of legal protection. They know that they can more easily manage the costs of arbitration than the costs of litigation, and they can use their ticket agreements to require passengers to attend arbitration hearings in the city where their headquarters are located. This is true even when their passengers live on the other side of the country or the other side of the world.
When Is Arbitration Required?
Cruise lines typically require passengers to submit all injury claims to arbitration. This includes claims involving accidents on the ship, accidents during shore excursions and medical malpractice onboard. Food poisoning incidents, contagious virus outbreaks and even cruise ship rape cases are typically covered under cruise lines’ mandatory arbitration clauses as well.
How Do Cruise Passengers File for Arbitration?
The steps involved in filing for arbitration after a cruise ship accident depend on the specific terms and conditions outlined on a passenger’s ticket. Cruise lines use various arbitration providers, and each provider sets its own rules, requirements and deadlines. The initial deadline to initiate arbitration after a cruise ship accident can be very short, so it is important to discuss your claim with a cruise ship accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What Can You Claim in Cruise Ship Arbitration?
If you have a claim for a cruise ship accident, you can claim the same compensation in arbitration that you would claim in court. Arbitration providers can issue awards for all types of damages, and when you have a claim, it is important to work with your lawyer to ensure that you are seeking all of the damages to which you are legally entitled. In a typical case, this will include seeking damages for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium, companionship and enjoyment of life
The specific damages you can claim—and the amount of damages you can claim—are unique to your individual case. For example, the damages available in a trip-and-fall case involving negligent maintenance will be different from the damages available to a victim of a cruise ship rape that the cruise line could (and should) have prevented. When you hire an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will ensure that he or she is seeking full compensation on your behalf.
What Are the Possible Outcomes of Cruise Ship Arbitration?
The possible outcomes of cruise ship arbitration are also similar to the potential outcomes of going to court. In broad strokes, the arbitration provider can issue a decision that:
- Determines the cruise line is not liable and denies compensation;
- Awards damages, but less than the full amount of compensation sought; or,
- Awards the full compensation sought by the victim.
As a result, while going to arbitration is not the same as going to court, you need to treat your arbitration claim just as seriously as you would treat a case in court. While it is possible to challenge an unfavorable arbitration decision in some cases, there are no guarantees, and you might not get a second chance.
What if I Lose in Cruise Ship Arbitration?
Let’s say you were injured in a cruise ship accident. Following your accident, you file for arbitration and . . . you lose. Despite what happened, the arbitration provider decides that the cruise line isn’t liable. What are your next steps, if any?
Fortunately, if you lose in cruise ship arbitration, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your case is over. Under the Federal Arbitration Act, it is possible to challenge an unfavorable arbitration decision in court in certain circumstances. But, just like going to arbitration, this is not easy, so it is important to have a lawyer on your side who has experience both in arbitration and in court.
Can a Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer Represent Me in Arbitration?
Given the challenges involved in going to arbitration, it is best to have an experienced lawyer on your side from the beginning. You can hire a cruise ship accident lawyer to represent you in arbitration, and you should do so. In fact, the sooner you hire a cruise ship accident lawyer to represent you, the better your chances will be of recovering the financial compensation you deserve.
You can hire a lawyer to handle your cruise ship arbitration claim at no out-of-pocket cost, and, with contingency fee representation, you only pay if you win. You don’t have to wait until you get back to land, and it is best if you contact a lawyer right away.
Discuss Your Claim with Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer Keith Brais for Free
If you need to know more about protecting your legal rights after a cruise ship accident (or any other incident during a cruise), we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your claim with cruise ship accident lawyer Keith Brais in confidence, call 800-499-0551 or tell us how we can reach you online today.