If you were a Passenger on a cruise ship and you were injured, your claims will generally be covered by “General Maritime Law.” Many passengers on cruise ships do not realize that their legal rights are severely restricted by their boarding passes or trip tickets. In most instances, you will have to bring your claim within a very short time frame or forever lose your right to make a claim. In some instances, your right to file suit will be limited to just months after the injury and you will also have to bring your legal claims in a court of the cruise ship operator’s jurisdiction of choice. You need to carefully review your ticket/boarding pass, which, most likely, will set forth, in detail, the procedures for bringing legal claims.
For example, the New Jersey Court has held that, as per Federal maritime law, an owner of a sea-going vessel can establish a one-year statute of limitation in its passenger contract. “Generally, contract provisions limiting the time parties may bring suit have been held to be enforceable, if reasonable. Such provisions are accepted by the courts as long as they do not violate public policy.” (citation omitted). In the recent New Jersey case, Winograd v. Carnival Corporation, this holding was affirmed. In Winograd, the plaintiff and her friend disembarked from the ship when it arrived at La Romana, a port city in the Dominican Republic. While walking in the shopping district, the plaintiff and her friend were robbed by men with knives, who stole their passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards, and other personal effects. Nearly two years later, plaintiff filed suit in the Law Division, claiming that she suffered physical and emotional injury as a result of the robbery. The appellate panel affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint based on the one-year statute of limitation set forth in the ticket contract.
This is a perfect example of why it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible when you have suffered an injury on a cruise ship or anywhere for that matter. Lawsuits are time sensitive and, without proper counsel, you could miss the boat on your legal claim.